As I write this post, we are three weeks into a lockdown designed to slow down the coronavirus outbreak, a crisis on a scale most of us have never seen in our lifetime.
It’s fair to say this crisis is going to change the way people and businesses work for the long-term, the world seems a gloomy place right now.
But there are positives.
Lockdown is already having a positive impact on my life and how I operate in my role as Insurance Practice Lead for Software Solved.
Pre-lockdown I was used to working from home a couple of days a week with the rest of my time split between travelling to Exeter where our office is based (usually a 4 hour trip) or London, the main location for most of my clients.
My working week was hectic.
Thankfully it’s still hectic, but the extra hours I have spare at each end of the day as a result of being in lock-down have enabled me to find time for new positive habits that will enrich my life, the time I spend with my family and maybe even the mark I make on the world.
Here are the 9 new habits I am forming, hopefully by the end of lockdown these will be ever present habits in my routine.
- Spend more time with the kids
- Develop my personal brand
- Write a blog
- Use a whiteboard
- Use LinkedIn more strategically
- Use Video for client and internal meetings
- Meditate Daily
- Write a daily journal
- Read more books
If you have time to read on, here is the detail of what I’m doing differently.
9 new habits I am forming during lock down
1.Spend more time with the kids
I guess I’m no different to most busy professionals, the long hours can affect family time during the week. Family time has usually been restricted to the weekend.
Each morning I now quiz each of my three girls on what their day is going to look like and if they are prepared for their home schooling, checking in at lunchtime and as they finish their allotted study time.
This is something I normally enquire about at the end of the day.
As I have replaced commuting time with a couple of extra hours work early in the morning, I can now make sure I finish work no later 6pm than and do something together as a family.
Obviously, we are restricted to what we can do on lock-down but that may include going for a walk along the canal by our house or going outside to play simple games together followed by winding down with a meal and family movie.
Weekends are now strictly family time, unless there is an emergency or tight deadline on something. Weekend working no longer being the norm.
I really hope this is one of the habits I can maintain.
2.Develop my personal brand
I’ve changed career direction in the last 12 months with a move to a consultancy and innovation type role which I absolutely love but this does mean that not all of my contacts understand what I do.
Personal branding was something I’d always wanted to develop but didn’t have the time.
If I’m being honest it has been a recent challenge trying to explain everything I do in a concise way, especially given I have had such a varied background.
This is something I found out when trying to explain what I do to a specialist personal branding consultant and it really got me thinking.
So, I have spent some time on this and developed a concise overview.
I also lead an exciting new InsurTech called SurveyorTech with a mission to accelerate the insurance markets move to digital surveys using affordable and familiar technology.
Personal Branding is no longer a nice to have, moving forward I shall spend time on this each week for the benefit of my sales, marketing, networking and positioning of my future career development.
3. Write a blog
As a result of reviewing my personal brand I have decided to write the blog you are reading now as a medium to share what I’m up to and showcase my thoughts and skills.
In doing so I have developed a new skill.
Whilst I don’t want to be a web designer I am pleased to have learned how to do it (if you are interested, I used a combination of WordPress and Elementor).
I plan to write a post of some form every week, writing a few hundred words a day to ensure this happens.
The topic of my blog is ‘Winning in a Digital World’ so content will be insurance sector related, covering all of my sales, marketing, insights and innovation skills.
4. Use a whiteboard
My desk is what I would call organised chaos. My wife calls it a mess.
So, in a bid to reduce Post-it Notes, task lists, reminders on slips of paper and frequency of being told off by the wife I have installed a whiteboard to track the key things I need to do and focus on each week.
The result is I have a happier wife and my desk is a lot easier to work from.
This is a habit I have to stick to.
5. Use LinkedIn more strategically
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a novice LinkedIn user however I probably wasn’t using LinkedIn to its full potential.
My Social Selling Index was slightly above average, probably low 60’s and I used it to keep in touch with people I had met and share the odd post.
I am now using it to proactively build new relevant connections, not selling to them (I find that really annoying when people use LinkedIn to sell to me).
I will take the time to develop a relationship with my connections, overtime earning the permission to take the conversation offline.
I now designate time each day to build my network and I record the results on my whiteboard i.e. new connections that week so I can track results.
I’m also sharing more content that is more relevant, interesting and educational to my network, mostly third-party content initially but over time there will be some of my own.
My social selling index now fluctuates between 79-81 out of 100 and puts me in the top 1% for both the insurance industry and my network.
If you’d like to understand your Social Selling Index score, you can view this at https://www.linkedin.com/sales/ssi where you will see your score broken down by:
- establishing your professional brand
- finding the right people
- engaging with insights; and
- building relationships.
This is useful as it helps you quickly identify where you need improve.
6. Use Video for Client and Internal Meetings
Like most people I am using video more for client meetings and I now always ensure that my webcam is on to make the meeting feel more personal, particularly where I haven’t met the attendees before.
Some of the meetings I have hosted would have always been a face to face meeting before lockdown, however the video meetings were not any less effective.
I feel using video for external meetings could quite easily become a long-term habit.
A number of people I have spoken to recently would change the “lets catch up for a coffee in London” habit to a meeting from home or virtual coffee meeting.
Video meetings are a great way for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and expenses – although nothing beats a face to face meeting but those can be saved for meetings that truly warrant the time and expense.
I have used meeting software for internal meetings for years, initially Skype for Business and now Microsoft Teams (which is fantastic).
Most people tended to use Teams with video turned off (me included) but I have started to switch video on in every meeting I am in.
For one, it ensures I keep my office tidy…
But also, I think it is beneficial to my colleagues and also its easier to have fun on the call.
I have a few colleagues who wear crazy hats or bunny ears on an internal video call (this isn’t a habit I’m adopting though) and its great fun.
Moving forward, if I’m using video call, my web cam will always be on, irrespective of how long I have gone without a haircut.
7. Meditate Daily
Meditation isn’t new to me and I have found it very useful to start my day well, unclutter my mind for 10 minutes during the day or unwind at night to position myself for a restful sleep.
It has been something I do inconsistently, even though I pay for a Headspace subscription (if you haven’t tried this there is a free account that includes a useful 10-day program).
I now meditate at the start of each day without fail for 20 mins. I also meditate for 20 mins at the end of the day to clear my mind.
If I need it, 10 minutes of my lunch break includes a meditation to rest and de-clutter my mind.
I feel a lot better for it, less self-doubt and stress that is a natural by product of lockdown.
8. Write a daily journal
I’m used to working remotely, I have done this for over a decade, but I have to admit I do struggle with this when it is 100% of my week.
I work in a role that requires me to network, sell and meet clients.
The combination of not doing this face to face and having the same level of activity as before lock-down can have a negative effect on your mental well-being.
I often have had the voice in my head say things like “I wonder whether my colleagues know how hard I’m working” type thoughts – “I know I’m working flat out but do they?”.
I know I’m not alone in this.
Its also natural for sales numbers to not quite look the same as they did before lock-down so its easy to beat yourself up, particularly if you are competitive like me.
I have started to write a one-page journal and it is one of the best habits I am forming and it doesn’t take long to do
At the end of each day I record how long I’ve meditated for, my sales and marketing activity, how much exercise I have done and then importantly 3 things I am grateful for.
The compound effect is that by the end of the month I have achieved a lot, even by only doing a small number of positive activities each day.
The plan is not to beat myself up when other things, like internal meetings get in the way. I just plan to do more the next day.
This is a habit that I will 100% stick to.
9. Read more books
I probably have most business Audible books that are worth listening to on my iPhone.
I used to listen to at least a couple of books each month by incorporating Audible into my regular commute.
I still bought books occasionally and have a reasonable library in my office.
I have decided to put my Audible description on hold during lockdown as I now have time to read, which is far more absorbing.
I’ve bought several great books recently (still with a business focus) and have been reading a chapter a day.
I find the content and ideas are sticking far more than listening.
This will be a challenge to maintain but I still feel I can maintain one good physical book a month, even when I switch Audible back on.
I hope you found this post useful.
What new habits are you forming during this historic time?