Hacks for staying socially connected and physically on track

Obviously, the hardest part of this entire “social distancing” requirement is that we cannot spend physical time with our family, friends and coworkers. Sure, we can wave at our neighbors on neighborhood walks, but what about those friends who we used to get coffee with, or in my case, see at the multitude of industry conferences and meetings?

I’ve decided to attack this challenge the same way I do my normal work stuff. I’m going to plan my day in advance and make a list of everything I want to do—in this case, who I want to connect with.

How about this?

  1. Make a list of all the friends you normally keep in touch with.
  2. Make a separate list of your family members who you want to touch base with.
  3. Get out your daily calendar (or use the task list in Outlook on your computer) and block out time each day for touch-base calls. Block out this time on your calendar a week at a time vs. each day.
  4. Text or email each of your friends and family and slot them into times that work for both of you. Try blocks of 15 minutes or 30 minutes. Be sure to give yourself breaks between calls.
  5. I’ve found that for me two calls a day is optimal (mostly because I am working from home during the day).
  6. Get a feel for how often you want to touch base with people. With my two daughters, I check in daily. Sometimes the calls are 5 minutes, sometimes 30 minutes. For friends, the calls may be once a week, and for others twice a month.
  7. Make a check-mark on your lists (above) to indicate when you’ve completed each call.
  8. Consider sending the person a quick text after your call to show your gratitude to them. Emojis are a great way to express your feelings. Or, go old school, and pen a handwritten note. (Good use for all that stationary you’ve had sitting in your desk drawer!)
  9. And be ready to throw out the plan when you need to! Sometimes I just need to call my sister Jackie and have a good laugh. Connecting with others has done wonders to get me through this crazy time.

And what about exercising? I keep seeing photos of friends on Facebook and Instagram who are baking and cooking up a storm. I’m a bit worried to see what happens after a few months of this—will all of us have gained unwanted weight? (I use a fitness app to track my weight a couple of times a week. This keeps me honest.)

I’ve really become diligent about tracking my steps each day and writing down what kind of physical activity I’m doing daily, including how long I spend exercising. Working from home, it’s super easy to stay seated at my desk all day and not find time for exercise. So, each day I fill my Month-at-a-Glance calendar with:

  1. Number of steps each day
  2. Type and length of exercise completed
  3. Books I’ve completed
  4. Number of handwritten notes I’ve sent
  5. Hours of sleep each night

I have also heard about some of the family dance challenges on social media and that seems like a great way to keep you moving along with your quarantine-mates!

I know it might sound a little crazy to be tracking so many things and planning out my personal phone calls to friends and family, but I’ve found that I am getting so much more done by taking an organized approach to each day. And that’s exactly what I’ve learned from time management experts: Those who approach their personal lives with the same discipline and focus that they do in planning their work day, get the most done and feel the most personal satisfaction.

It’s so easy during this time of “work from home” to let the hours of the day ebb and flow, and all of the sudden another day has passed. Try some of these hacks and see how much more accomplished and positive you feel at end of each day!

Karen