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How to Make the Most of this Nationwide Timeout

Although the game of life feels like it’s been put on hold, there are things we can be doing to make the most of our time.

Most everyone in our industry finds themselves in a new work environment—that is, the “home office.” In my case, that’s the kitchen table—maybe not the most formal of work settings, but it does allow me to multitask, be productive, and feel safe and comfortable.

And, admittedly, I’m growing accustomed to every day being “Casual Friday.”

Like many of you, I’m adapting to a different schedule—one that exchanges commuting, meetings, dining out and occasional travel for more time devoted to exercising, cooking, reading and even catching up on the latest Netflix shows.

All while taking care of business in a unique way—a secluded 9-to-5 world that at first felt remote and distant but has proven to be an effective new normal, at least for now.

Essentially a fresh mindset has taken hold, one where I have come to accept what is—that is, living in and adapting to a real-life sci-fi movie called COVID-19.

It is this acceptance that allows me to make choices about how I spend my days, how I deal with uncertainty and fear, and whether I see this time at home as a punishment or an opportunity to reflect, refocus and regroup. It’s a frame of mind rooted in presence and balance between staying in the moment, while also keeping an eye toward a better future. 

Opening Day Has Been Delayed

I started writing this on what would have been professional baseball’s opening day—and I know that because my husband and sons are diehard Yankees fans.

But this year, all of Major League Baseball—and their devoted fans—found spring training cut short and opening day delayed indefinitely.

The truth of the matter is, so much of the game of life has been delayed as well.

In a lot of ways, we are all like professional baseball players. While they’ve been sidelined for the foreseeable future, the players are surely using this timeout productively, not allowing their bodies and minds to weaken. Instead they are focused on staying in peak condition, perfecting their skills, strength and endurance—and using this time to ensure they are “game ready” in anticipation of what will be a new opening day.

And that’s exactly what we all need to be doing now: readying ourselves for when our world is once again “open for business.”

Ten Things to Do While Waiting for “Opening Day”

Whether you are an employee advisor or independent business owner, there are things you can be doing to ensure you stay game ready during what is a “nationwide timeout.” Here are 10 you may find helpful.

1. Strengthening relationships

First and foremost, at a time when social distancing is the rule, communicating authentically and often has become even more important. Regular check-ins with staff, clients, friends and family by phone, FaceTime, email, text or even a traditional letter or card sent by mail goes a long way to nurturing a relationship and, in most cases, making it stronger.

2. Finding creative ways to add value

Gratuitously sharing your knowledge or skills allows you to help others—and with so many ways to disseminate information, it’s easy to do. Consider starting a blog or video series, or contributing content on social media.

3. Looking at your team from a new perspective

There are many who rise to the occasion when there’s a crisis, while others get “stuck” trying to adjust to the disruption. Are those on your team using this time to be creative and self-motivated? Are they able to rise above and maintain a positive outlook? No doubt, these are times that will try the best of us, but those able to turn this crisis into an “opportunity” are the ones who will be your most valuable players in the post-COVID-19 world.

4. Looking at your firm from a new perspective

Now more than ever, advisors have the opportunity to evaluate their firms through a new lens. Are they responsive to your requests? Is the technology working as expected, and in particular, are remote capabilities up to par? Are they providing you with information that’s valuable to you and your clients? And, ultimately, is what they are doing “enough”—and will it be once the dust has settled?

5. Testing your leadership skills

Every leader is being confronted with the ultimate test of not only their abilities but also the level of trust they have developed among their team. As you guide staff forward, do so with respect and honesty, lead with creativity, assurance and positivity, and inspire them to recognize the better future that lies ahead.

6. Determining if you are self-sufficient enough

Now is a time where the proverbial rubber meets the road, revealing any potential inadequacies in your ability to function as a “stand-alone” business. Do you have the infrastructure in place to continue moving forward efficiently and profitably? If you are an independent business owner, or considering independence, use this experience to identify any gaps that may exist and whether you have the ability to fill them on your own or could benefit from finding the right partner to help do so.

7. Making your business weatherproof

While things may be “quieter” than usual for some of us, it’s the perfect time to review all of the systems that run in the background—including technology, operations and marketing. For example, your staff can make sure all client information is up-to-date. Your ops team can use this time to investigate new options for web conferencing and phone services. The tech people can be upgrading your website infrastructure and reviewing security. And your marketing team can be revisiting the marketing plan and creating new content and messaging.

8. Considering ways to improve yourself

Have you always wanted to write a book but never felt you had the time? Maybe you considered taking an online course? Or there was that “meditation class for beginners” app your friend sent to you. … We’re all at a point where we can “reinvent” not only our day but also ourselves. Take this time to try something new.

9. Strengthening your true work-life balance

For many of us, the concept of work-life balance has taken on a whole new dimension. Those who are unaccustomed to working at home or having family around 24/7 may find the ability to focus on work quite challenging, let alone the ability to distance yourself from it. Find ways to create some separation both from the perspectives of time and space—and be sure you and your family respect those boundaries.

10. Staying in the present while keeping a positive outlook toward the future

It’s extremely hard not to let your mind wander into the “what ifs”—particularly when scary news and social media are such pervasive parts of our lives. But keeping a mindset that is centered on staying in the moment has helped me to focus on what I can do to make a positive impact now, while influencing the potential for a better tomorrow.

While this “nationwide time-out” has put much of the game of life on hold, there are still things we can be doing to make the most of it. So take this time to flex your leadership, communication and creative muscles, keep a positive mindset, and set your sights on preparing for what will be the country’s new opening day.

Mindy Diamond is president and CEO of Diamond Consultants in Morristown, N.J., a nationally recognized boutique search and consulting firm in the financial services industry.

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