cbSullivan Consulting, LLC

Tips & Ideas to Stay Productive Amidst COVID-19

Mar 12, 2020 | by Cindy Sullivan

Many of us are, or will be, impacted by schedule disruptions related to COVID-19.  Cancellations and the move toward "social distancing" means we will likely be spending much more time at home in the coming days.  With this change in normal routine, it's easy to feel lost and fearful amidst the chaos. 

To combat the negativity and to help us state in a mindset that is positive and productive, I've compiled some ideas on productive ways you can utilize this time.  Try some of these in the coming days or see what ideas of your own this list inspires!

  • Identify at least ONE WAY you can support others during this time.  Focusing our attention outward not only minimizes our own stress but builds community and compassion for one another.  Could you run an errand for someone, trade off childcare with a friend or neighbor, or share/trade supplies to minimize shopping trips?  Maybe reach out to those who are shut in or have fewer friends and family close by.
  • Set up an "official" workspace if you don't already have a dedicated work area.  If you need to work remotely for a while, having a designated space can be helpful when you need to sit down and stay focused.  Also consider dressing just as you would to head to the office.  Sticking to the same routine where possible can help keep your head in the game if working from home isn't a frequent occurrence.
  • Practice self care!  Drink water, take a walk, prepare a healthy lunch
  • Catch up on filing & administrative tasks.
  • Expand your education and industry knowledge.  Take an online class for Continuing Education credit or read an industry periodical or book.
  • Declutter your desktop.  Whether the desktop on your computer or your physical workspace, taking a few minutes to organize is something often overlooked but feels really good once done!  Get rid of icons or docs that no longer need to take up visual space on your laptop.  Minimize the clutter that accumulates on our desks over time. 
  • Write a letter.  We may not be as physically close to one another in the coming weeks but that needn't stop us from connecting.  Plus, how cool is it to get an actual letter in our mailbox these days!
  • Purge email!  I have never met anyone that didn't have some email cleanup on their list.  It's like laundry - it's never finished!!
  • Pull together your docs for tax filing.  Even if they extend the deadline, wouldn't it feel good to just get this over with??
  • Reach out to a client or contact you haven't spoken with in a while.  Use this time to make those connections we've been meaning to make.
  • Organize and clean our one desk or file drawer.
  • Take time to unsubscribe from email and newsletters you don't want.  You can also sign up with and use a service that rolls these together and gives you an easy unsubscribe option.  For paper junk mail, try the PaperKarma app.  Just scan the mailing label and it does the work to unsubscribe you.  Genius!
  • Kids out of school?  Have them try on next season's clothes to see what no longer fits from last year.  Make a list of items they need. 
  • Start a "Preparedness List".  Use this time to document what you have learned - - What work items do you need to have on hand so you can function easily outside the office?  What home supplies will you aim to have in larger supply?
  • Look ahead at your calendar for the next several weeks.  Can any meetings be set up to take place over Zoom or Skype vs. in person?  Have conferences or meetings been canceled?  Remember to cancel hotel reservations, car rental, and flights.  Can you consolidate trips or errands out of the house so minimize crowds
  • Make a connection with someone on Social Media or LinkedIn.  Comment on posts or reach out with a personalized message to colleagues.  Use this time to network online.
  • Write!  Plan and write blog posts for the coming weeks. 
  • Menu-planning.  Take time to see what is on hand and predetermine meals for the days ahead.  Make a game of seeing how many dinners you can make with supplies you already have.  Make a shopping list so you can make one trip to the store.
  • Organize photos and upload to the cloud.
  • Clean out the car
  • Set up a free zoom account or use FaceTime to connect with someone who may be feeling isolated during this season of "social distancing". 
  • Wipe down areas with frequent contact:  car steering wheel, phone, door handles, keyboards, faucets, etc.
  • Get outside!  Fresh air and vitamin D have a big impact.  Even if only for 5-10 minutes at a time, try to get outside and see the sky. 
  • Use a timer.  Work to stay focused for set intervals (20-30 minutes).  Shut out email, news and social media while you work on projects and tasks.  The Pomodoro Technique uses this approach with 5 minutes "off" then kicking off another 25-minute "pomodoro".  For larger projects, I use up to 45-minutes but if focus is a challenge, even starting at 10 minutes can be effective for getting small tasks done or beginning work on something larger.  Kids often react well to the use of a timer too.  Give them an assignment or let them play a game or watch TV till they hear the timer, then they can move on to the next item or know that you will be finished with something you need to complete.
  • Take the first (or next) steps on a project you've been wanting to complete.  Don't focus on finishing that big task, instead work to begin the task.  You may even accomplish more than you thought you would once you take the hardest step - - getting started.
  • Identify one thing you will do with family or others who are with you.  It can be a real challenge trying to be productive while away from your normal work zone or with kids at home for days on end.  If you all have something to look forward to that you'll do together, you can allow yourself time to focus on things that have to get done while knowing that you'll be using this time to build relationships, not just hide from a virus.  Play a game that's been gathering dust, cook a meal or recipe together, watch a funny movie, or simply instigate a discussion.  

Cindy B Sullivan provides consulting, coaching, and training in the areas of Time Management and Productivity.  Take her 6 Pillars of Effective Time Management assessment (see link on the right side of this page) to find out where you can work to hone your time management skills.  Free phone consultations are available.  Email: or call 615-406-5436 today to schedule!