Staying Productive in These Surreal Times
By James Testa
The current worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has devastated our industry and you are feeling the pain. These are tough times but also present us with a unique opportunity we probably never thought we would have: time on our hands. Whether you are enduring a self-imposed quarantine, under a stay-at-home order or just idle from the lack of work, there are productive things we all can do to get the most from this highly unanticipated vacation. Except for the first item, these are in no particular order.
Stay and be Healthy.
During this time, it is critical that we do all we can do to improve and stay healthy. If you have been working a sleep-deprived schedule, getting rest and getting back into a regular sleep pattern is very important to your overall health. So is getting back into a routine of eating healthy and getting exercise. Social distancing is also critical to all of us. To paraphrase Emily Landon, the chief infectious disease epidemiologist at University of Chicago Medicine in Chicago, as reported in The Washington Post, the more we can work to make the pandemic feel like a nonevent, the better off we will all be.
Catch Up on Reading.
Whether it is catching up on TheatreArtLife articles, reading trade magazines or just a good book or two, reading helps keep our minds active and give us an opportunity to find insights and explore various perspectives on topics in which you are interested.
Engage in Online Training.
Several organizations and manufacturers are opening up their online training catalogs for free. These include USITT, AVIXA, disguise and QCS as well as others. These are a great way to brush up on old skills, learn new techniques or explore technologies in which you have an interest but did not have the time. Plus, its FREE!
In his book, Outliers, Malcom Gladwell theorizes that to become really proficient at any skill it takes 10,000 hours of practice. No matter what you do, there is always room for improvement. These times give us a unique opportunity to practice in a non-judgmental environment to sharpen our skills.
Research New Trends.
What are the emerging trends in your industry or profession? Take time to identify them, explore them, become conversant and form an opinion. Not only will this add new depth to your knowledge, but it will help you get ahead of others, allowing you to create extra value in your work. It may also start you in a direction you had not previously contemplated.
Join a Forum or Virtual Co-working Space.
Few of us really enjoy working alone or listening to only the thoughts in our heads. Joining forums or virtual co-working spaces allows us the opportunity to connect and converse with others. They can also provide a periodic break or distraction from other mentally intense activities. Seth Godin, an author, blogger and speaker on various aspects of marketing and leadership (among other things) has created a virtual co-working space where people can virtually sit with each other and, when in need of a break, engage in conversation (see this link for more information).
Alternatively, you could set up your own video conference meeting room and invite friends and colleagues to join. They can drop in and out as their time permits creating an ongoing opportunity to connect, check in and converse. Zoom has become a very popular medium for this and they offer a free option (with limitations). Lifesize, another video conferencing technology is offering a less restrictive subscription free for the next six months.
Here’s to making the best of these surreal times. I am now off to take a walk with my wife.