April 15, 2020

3 Positives about Forced Downtime


How you can take this down time to catch up on your business’s “homework.”

Over the last several weeks, nearly everyone has had to make adjustments on how they live their lives. With Covid-19 sweeping across the globe, it has been a struggle to keep up with the changing demands of our recent environment. Businesses across the country have had to make changes to the way they run their day-to-day operations and people’s patterns have been forced to change – instead of going out on Friday nights, they are staying in. Work trips and vacations alike have had to be put on hold. Watching the news for a short five minutes can leave one anxiety ridden. Yet, in the midst of all of the change and uncertainty, there are positives that can come out of being forced to slow down and reflect. In a time when it can be tempting to sit around and fret, finding positive and productive activities can help provide the certainty we are all craving during these turbulent times.

As a business owner, I often find myself with a lot of loose ends and it can be hard to find the time to tidy them up when I am trying to manage my day-to-day business operations. If nothing else, this forced period of down time can be helpful for catching up on your business’s, “homework.” Below are 3 ways you can use this down time to catch up on and strengthen the fundamentals of your business.

  1. Strengthen your relationships: Now is the time to communicate frequently and effectively with your customers, colleagues, and community. You do not have to be on social media to do this, though it certainly helps when you are trying to connect with your community.
    • Let your customers know that you are there for them. By simply checking in, you can strengthen your customer relations. If you have been putting off e-mails to your customers, now is an excellent time to catch up and reach out. Want to make it more personal? Pick up the phone or ask for a video chat over coffee. I never used to activate the video feature on my remote meetings – now I do so that I can connect better with the person I am chatting with and even though I do not always look my absolute best, I find that does not really matter. What matters is the human connection especially during these self-isolating times.
    • During this time, everyone is experiencing some levels of stress and/or anxiety. Let your colleagues and co-workers know that you are there for them as well. Additionally, as most of us are having to work remotely, keeping the lines of communication open with everyone is helpful for all of us. Not only will staying in touch with your colleagues and co-workers help keep the lines of communication open for your business, it will also strengthen personal relationships and offer support for everyone as we navigate this uncertain period of time.
    • It is a great time to also let your community know that your business is there for them. What you can do for your community will obviously depend on your business type. That being said, we can all help each other out and spread positivity. Now is also a good time to keep the small businesses in your community supported. While we cannot go to a restaurant and sit down and eat, many restaurants offer takeout and delivery. Look around at your community and see how you can help.
  2. Review your goals and your financials: With the extra downtime we are all currently experiencing, taking the time to sit down and look at your goals and financials is a great way to make sure that both your business and personal goals are on track.
    • Are the goals you set at the beginning of the year still attainable with today’s landscape? How do you need to adjust them? What is your revised plan? When asking yourself these questions, take it one step at a time. It can sometimes seem overwhelming to look at your finances. Remember that taking one step forward is better than not moving at all.
    • Look at your financials year-to-date and re-visit the budget you hopefully set for yourself this year. How is your business being impacted and what can you do to save money or come up with new innovative ways to keep your bottom line from falling apart?
  3. Use the extra time to organize: Regardless of whether you are able to work remotely during this time or not, having an organized office space (and home) can do wonders for boosting productivity and positivity.
    • If you are able to work from home during this time period, you will want to make sure that your home office space is organized. There is nothing more discouraging or discombobulating than trying to work from a messy office. While some of us may have been working from home before the Covid-19 situation, if you are new to working from home, you will want to make sure that you set up an area in your home that is a positive, friendly environment to work from. Try to set up your home office not only in an area that inspires you, but also someplace away from distractions.
    • If the nature of your job does not allow you to work from home (or even if it does), working on your home project list can also leave you feeling positive and productive. Although not business related, tackling the home projects on your list can do wonders for your mental health.
    • With the extra time, you may also want to consider starting a workout routine such as yoga, or stress-reducing habits like meditation. Additionally, you could also consider learning about that subject you’ve been interested in for years but have never had the time to pursue (i.e. astrology or philosophy).

For me, taking control over what I can is very helpful when most everything is out of my control. I also cannot emphasize enough to be kind and gentle with yourself, always, but especially now. We tend to be our biggest critic and now is not the time to do that. Push yourself to keep taking steps forward because that will help your mindset stay positive which in turn helps your immune system and your overall well-being but be understanding with yourself if you have a day that you just cannot show up and need to rest.

Despite the fact that this a stressful time in which we are all forced to stay at home, there are plenty of positives that can be taken away from this forced downtime.