Is It Even Possible to Focus on Anything Right Now?

I want to acknowledge the strange times we’re in. Lives around the globe has fundamentally changed since March when World Health Organization (WHO) announced COVID-19, a pneumonia-like disease attacking respiratory organs, a pandemic.

Like everywhere else in the world here in Toronto, we’ve been under lock-down since mid March. Everyday routines are thrown out of the window and joggling remote work with homeschooling, child care and house chores while receiving a constant torrent of bad news has become our new reality. If you are like me, one detrimental result is that it’s harder than ever to find the focus to be productive.

To find answers, I I experimented with different approaches and also came across excellent articles in Harvard Business Review and WHO. Here are 3 actionable takeaways from what works for me. Hopefully you find them valuable too:

Restrict your news intake

Yes, it’s important to be informed about what’s happening so you can form a plan and yes it is also normal to feel sad, stressed, confused, scared or angry about all the changes. However following the news and social media excessively quickly turns our thoughts darker and create anxiety about the worst case scenario. What is proven to be an effective tactic is to minimize watching, reading or listening to news. Get your updates at specific times during the day, once or twice from a trusted source (which is not social media!). When I started feeling drained, hopeless and depressed about all the bad news I decided to completely avoid Facebook, Twitter and Slack. I figured that big news will seep through to m e through family and friends so I blocked off all my regular sources of news for some time to make sure I can cope.

Create a new routine

In addition to complete disruption of your normal schedule if you have kids unless you are an experienced teacher you are now charting unknown territory of homeschooling!! Consider creating new routines for your kids and build your work day around those routine! I learned from my daughter’s teacher to build variety into her schedule so she does a daily mix of reading, math, art and physical activity. Since she’s in grade 2 there are a few activities that she can do unsupervised while she needs assistance with others. Here is a snapshot of activities from each category and I mix and match them to come up with a daily schedule.

Be patient with yourself

Take care of yourself at this time. Eat healthy, sleep, exercise and be in touch with your loved ones and friends. I call my friends and have a good conversation, these days no body is going anywhere so take advantage of that! Also find opportunities to look at positive and hopeful stories, my favorite. Some Good News on youTube is an awesome one to check out!

Finally recognize your limitations and adapt based on the situation. Show yourself the same compassion you would show someone else in your situation!

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