It feels like the movie "Groundhog Day". Every day is the same. No real vacation for months, no parties, no spontaneous meetings, no shopping trips to the electronics store, no Saturday afternoon at the hardware store. Everyday life only takes place at home. Here, you're either running from one web meeting to the next or you're on reduced hours but still working overtime.

Freelancers, on the other hand, are waiting for reliable new orders or promised aid money. Colleagues and customers are only vaguely remembered, and you hardly recognize them with their newly grown long hair in web meetings. Now you can decide: Anger outburst or courage outburst?

There’s no question about it: even if there are individual small rays of hope, the endlessly ongoing Corona pandemic is a burden for everyone in its own way. So how do I manage to keep myself motivated even in difficult times and make the best of the current situation? This question is particularly relevant for those whose livelihoods are threatened by the lockdown, or who are at least currently living with financial losses and great uncertainty. But those who have management responsibilities for a team are also in demand as crisis managers in such times. Burying your head in the sand and resigning does not help anyone. What’s needed now are strategies that look ahead and give people courage.

Let’s start on a small scale: Many people find it difficult to get up in the morning. What day is it today? Why bother changing out of your lounge outfit into jeans and a shirt? Only your family will see anyway – and they’ve already gotten used to the sight. What’s on the agenda today? Oh yes, nothing, nothing special. Just more of the same. No movie in the evening, no after-work hangout with friends. So, what is there to look forward to? But is this understandable lethargy really the only formula for survival in difficult times? Or should we finally get creative? Why wait for new guidelines – why not see this situation as an opportunity?

  1. Take advantage of lockdown opportunities! Now that you may theoretically have more time due to reduced hours or the elimination of commuting, you should also make practical use of it. Haven’t you wanted to write an app or found a start-up with friends for a long time? Really now? Sure, right now is the time for a business plan. Start your inner movie: How can I contribute my talents now? What’s really needed right now and what will it look like after the crisis? Just go through your ideas and take some risks. If that’s too ambitious, then start smaller for now: How about finally perfecting your smart home system? Or finally getting your model aeroplane to fly?
  2. Stay connected throughout lockdown! Who says you can’t watch the soccer match live on TV with friends? Web meetings aren’t just for business. Invite your friends over for an online TV night. Really now? Sure, why not put your laptop next to the TV, place the cold beer next to the pretzels and team scarf, and yell “GOOOAL!” together? Why not already look forward to your soccer evening in the morning?
  3. Exercise instead of getting knocked down! Sitting is the new smoking! Really now? Yeah, sure, because sitting all day reduces the blood flow in your legs. And who sits at their desk all day with thrombosis stockings? So, get down from the couch, away from the laptop, and out into nature. It doesn’t have to be a marathon, but taking 10,000 steps a day with your new smartwatch or getting on your new e-bike and exploring completely new corners will definitely give you a fresh kick and new energy. It’s also a great way to talk to colleagues the next day about sore muscles and battery performance.
  4. Block out lockdown with goals! What we’re currently missing are perspectives, deadlines, and incentives: When will this whole crisis finally be over? So, at what incidence specifically, or not until Zero Covid? Open or closed? By summer or beyond? No one knows for sure, so it helps to set your own deadlines and goals. By achieving small goals, self-esteem and motivation go back up. So why not define them clearly: By the end of July, I’ll have turned my extra Corona weight into muscle, or I’ll have finished my tax return, or I’ll have built an online store … Really now? That’s just added stress. Yeah, sure, but that’s what you need to look ahead again. Ask yourself right now: What do I really want? And why shouldn’t I realize it now? Make a clear roadmap for yourself and clock through the milestones so that you can reach your goal. Keep at it. Envision your goal as realistically as possible! Plan your day and build time slots for your own project for at least an hour each day.
  5. Learn new things instead of doing nothing! Discuss with your supervisor which online training courses you could currently complete that will help you in the long term. This could be completely different topics such as storytelling or design thinking, or even a new programming language that you are not currently using. Pick out topics from the endless expanse of advanced training courses that really interest you, not just those that fit your work one-to-one. Even in your private life, you can learn to fix your bike or dishwasher by watching DIY videos. Challenge your brain and craft skills and enjoy the results or new insights.
  6. Structure your everyday life instead of mindless boredom! Even if you are currently at home most of the time and work in a home office, structure your day as you normally would. Always get up at the same time, treat yourself to breakfast, put on office-appropriate clothes while you’re online (not only because you can turn on the camera then, but because this way you also separate work and private life visually and emotionally). Take a lunch break (schedule it as an appointment in your Outlook calendar). Schedule times for your personal projects, hobby, family, etc. Go to bed on time in the evening. Getting enough sleep is an important factor in staying healthy, fit and, above all, in a good mood.
  7. Avoid perfection and pessimism! We Germans always want to get the perfect result. To achieve this, we often plan and discuss until that ship has sailed. In the case of vaccine procurement in Germany, it became clear that prolonged negotiation, weighing up and comparing is clearly the wrong strategy in times of crisis. Just do it, think big, make mistakes, take risks, don’t complain but keep going, don’t blame others but learn from mistakes and get going again – that’s what matters now. As a crisis manager, you must take the lead. Convince your team and your environment that it doesn’t make sense to always complain, wait, or be too cautious. Successful crisis managers look ahead optimistically, they work through their plan and correct it when necessary – not every two days or weeks, but whenever it seems necessary. You stay in communication with others and listen to the opinions of experts, but you stay the course. Uncertainty only makes the crisis worse. Be confident in your abilities. Confidently bring your expertise to the attention of others. Especially as a leader, it is enormously important to offer leadership in times of crisis. Don’t discuss strategies and solutions in an endless loop, but take the wheel. You won’t please everyone, and you won’t automatically end up with a perfect result, but the main thing is that there is one at all.

Despite the crisis, the IT industry is still stable in its economic interaction with its customers, partners, service providers and users. After decades of prosperity, the Corona crisis is certainly the greatest challenge we have to master as employees, managers, entrepreneurs, and simply as human beings. And it will not be the last crisis. Whether as a crisis manager with responsibility or as a survivor in everyday life: We all have to make the best of it, not let it get us down, and despite all the tragedy that Corona brings with it, we must not lose our sense of humor. Because with humor and a focus on the essentials, even difficult times can be mastered quite well.

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