When significant events happen to you, you can usually remember the exact date of the event and, often, where you were when it happened. 

Do you remember the date COVID-19 and the financial crisis it precipitated changed “life as you knew it” to “life as it is now”? 

For me, it was March 12th.  

So if you’re counting, that was ten weeks ago. That’s how long we’ve been in quarantine in NYC. During this ten-week period, my schedule has been full with coaching clients and multiple virtual events every single week. Mind you, I am NOT complaining. I am incredibly grateful, especially when I consider how quickly the speaking arm of my business changed…on March 12th. 

Given what my schedule has been in the midst of our lockdown, when people talk about having all this newfound time, I’m like, “huh, how?!” Because I feel like I’m working harder and longer hours now than I was before coronavirus. Not to mention time feels like it is whizzing by even when I wonder about the day of the week. 

For others, on the other hand, not only are the days and weeks bleeding into each other, time is dragging by as well. 

Turns out this isn’t unusual. 

According to Dr. Adrian Bardon, the author of “A Brief History of the Philosophy of Time,” we each experience time differently. So it is not uncommon that my perception of time is different from others. He also says the days tend to feel longer when there’s an unexpected interruption to our usual routines.

Let’s Talk About Time

How does time feel for you right now? Is it flying by or dragging? Is your schedule just as full (or maybe even fuller)? 

I don’t ask you these questions in search of the “right” answers because, well, there aren’t any. Truth is…

We are all going through this experience as best we can – with our own stresses, degrees of anxiety and distractions

But what sparked today’s theme is a combination of a question posed by my college intern, Annie, coupled with my recent bafflement with time perception.

I’ve been having a hard time understanding how some people now have “all the time in the world.” Especially if working from home is new to them, along with (potentially) home-schooling for the first time, and cooking most every meal at home. So, this is my source of curiosity. 

For Annie, her curiosity was related to how does one maintain the motivation to get things done in quarantine. When presumably you have “all the time in the world” to do so.

I’ll spare you the Google and podcast rabbit hole I traveled down to try to understand the dichotomy that sparked our respective curiosities. 🙂 But, if you know me, you know I love mind-maps and exploring intersections. 

The Role of Emotions

To some degree, this crisis has interrupted aspects of your relationships – be it with time, money, work, and the people in your life. With this interruption to life as you knew it, also likely comes a bit of an identity crisis – even if slight. No wonder this is an extremely emotional time right now?! 

And according to time philosophers, your emotions play a key role in whether you experience time as speeding up or slowing down

Even more so if you became ill or lost a loved one. If the former, I hope you are feeling better. If the latter, I extend my condolences. 

Adjust…And Adjust Some More 

So, how are you experiencing time?  How is it affecting your motivation?

I am not one of those people who romanticizes being busy. But as I shared above, my schedule has been full these last ten weeks. Did I tell you how grateful I am for this?! 

Like everyone, I’ve been shifting. And to be clear, not everything I did to adjust to the shifts I needed to make in my business and life were intentional. However, as I reflect on these weeks, there are four things I did, very broadly, that stand out. I share them below (in no particular order) in case they may help you:

Reset your routine

I have been working from home for years, so there wasn’t much I needed to adjust to on that front. But going to the grocery store became a project in its own right. Not only did I need to reset my shopping routine, I also needed to reset my expectations. This meant no longer grocery shopping during the week when I had coaching calls and virtual events, since I never knew if shopping would be a 1-, 2- or 3-hour ordeal. 

In other words, I needed to create new habits.

Focus on fewer goals + tasks

An oft-suggested productivity hack is proving to be quite useful: slimming down the number of goals I focus on each day and tasks I aim to complete. Some days, it’s just one thing; other days it’s no more than three. 

My big picture goals haven’t changed, and my to-do list didn’t magically become smaller. But these days I’m allocating my time, energy and attention differently. I’m even managing the deadlines I have – either self-imposed or driven by my clients – differently. 

Ask for support

I am really fortunate to have both an informal and formal support network. These are people I can go to when I need help brainstorming, when I need a second opinion, or simply need to vent. Embedded in these networks is a sense of belonging and remembering that I’m not going through this alone. What is also cool are the new collaborations that have emerged, which were not on the horizon pre-coronavirus.  

Share and spread good news + results

There is no shortage of sad and bad news to be consumed. In fact, I talked about the importance of sharing good news and results here. 

In addition, though, I happen to think sharing and hearing good news can go a long way toward replenishing any motivation that’s been zapped. Whether it regards motivation that is outwardly driven (praise, money, social recognition) or inwardly driven (personally gratifying).  

Ultimately, nothing I’ve just shared herein is earth shatteringly new. They may even seem obvious. But like you and everyone else, I was “responding” in the moment – sometimes a dazed moment. Often recognizing what I’d done or how I responded only in a moment of reflection.

For understandable reasons, COVID-19 is a crisis that has fundamentally changed us all. But it is not our first collective crisis, nor will it be the last. 

And like all crises, this one is affecting how we move through time, as well as our energy and motivation to get things done.

Look, there’s no one way to go through this or any crisis. And, I suspect we may need to continue to recalibrate as the reverberations of this continue to unfold. In the process, if you find yourself experiencing time differently from those around you; if you find yourself with “all the time in the world,” but feeling unmotivated, come back to this post and choose to do one thing. It may be the thing that helps you move the needle.

Whatever that one thing is, it will be enough.

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