Our minds have been forced into survival mode. Into a forever “on” state, constantly planning and preparing the best way to protect our health, our sanity, our family, our businesses and our finances. But this overwhelming new noise has made it harder than ever to truly be able to focus and prioritize. To silence some of the noise and determine what is more important – and most impactful – to concentrate our efforts on.
As pressure builds for us to be more productive, faster and smarter in order to navigate the current climate, here are five things I have adopted that help me to switch off the clutter and focus on what really matters:
Start the day as best as you can
I’ve always been a fan of a morning routine and the significance of sticking to this has increased through the pandemic. Kicking off every day with a few choice actions gives me a clear head and the footing to be able to handle any battles the day could hurl at me.
My routine consists of:
1. I start the morning with a serenity prayer asking for strength and courage to get me through everything within my grasp, and acceptance for those matters which cannot be changed. There is so much unknown at the moment and like many business owners, I struggle with the sense of not being in control. The serenity prayer is my way of telling myself it’s OK to not have a grasp on everything and instead, focus all of my efforts into what is within my reach— specifically, the few things that will make the biggest impact.
2. Secondly, I have a big cup of freshly-squeezed lemon water. I recently transitioned from coffee first thing to lemon water and it both hydrates and nourishes the body, while ensuring I don’t have that mid-morning caffeine crash.
3. Finally, I finish my morning routine with some form of exercise – whether it’s a full-blown, sweat-inducing workout, a bike ride or a leisurely walk. It’s a form of mindfulness movement that means every day I have a portion of time allocated to myself and my health.
Set boundaries with the news
The news is engulfing us. We are drowning in a sea of good, bad and ugly reporting and like many others, I often find it emotionally overwhelming and a huge time (and energy) drain.
My personal rule when it comes to news consumption (and by this I mean print, online and social media) is one day on, two days off. On the days “off”, I avoid the news at all costs. I don’t tune into the daily press briefing, nor do I scroll Twitter. If there’s big news, I know that someone will update me on it – but truthfully, nothing good can come from letting the wave of COVID-19 updates wash over you every single day. If anything, it only distracts from your ability to do meaningful work and make important decisions about your business and your life.
Increase CBD to reduce “the edge”
CBD has been my sidekick responsible for taking off the edge for a long time. I recently transitioned my daily intake from 25mg per day to 75mg and I am confident this increase has had a profound effect on my ability to take a deeper breath and not get caught up in “the fear.”
I stagger my doses throughout the day – starting with 25mg with my morning vitamins and then again at lunch and in the evening. Through spreading it out, I enjoy a constant calmness that allows me to work long, focused hours without the worries of “what if?” getting in the way. I gain a new groundedness in which I am now able to navigate the climate and the constant changes, without being knocked off kilter.
Take time to work with others
For me, nothing releases endorphins more than getting outside of myself and working on projects that positively benefit other people. Now more than ever, we need to look at how we can support vulnerable communities, especially those who are healthy and able to do so. This type of support work has become a crucial part of my day, even more so since the pandemic began.
I carve out at least one hour per day to work on one of three projects that I have in the works. These include delivering products that my businesses make to emergency rooms across San Diego; working with Catholic Charities to launch the Emergency Food Distribution Network where we are addressing the urgent basic needs of some of the most vulnerable families in our community, including delivery to homebound elders; and collaborating with other like-minded businesses on building a new manufacturing and supply chain using producers in democratic nations.
Especially now, when our living rooms and offices are the same thing and the worlds of work and life have completely collided, I find it a helpful reminder that there’s something more than work out there. The time spent on these three projects delivers the mental fortitude to carry me through more challenging times.
Mark Zuckerberg is famed for wearing the same thing every day to remove one daily decision he has to make and allow him to focus on business decisions. Inspired by this, we’ve adopted a similar approach within our household where we each aim to focus on the things that we have the most control over and will make the most impact to the whole family.
We decided early on that during this pandemic, my role in the household is to keep everyone safe – my wife, my four kids and my in-laws – and to maintain the success of my various businesses for which I employ over 750 people.
As a result, I’ve tried to remove any obstacles or unnecessary decisions that stand in the way of me being able to focus on caring for those that I love and keeping my businesses afloat (my second loves!). I’ve removed daily decisions wherever possible – and my family have helped me to do this too and in doing so, it’s freed up part of the brain that would previously get bogged down in little details that didn’t have a significant impact.
There is no go-to manual directing us through these times. We’re navigating uncharted waters and finding, rather quickly, that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to our new normal. It’s a winding, and sometimes rocky road to finding peace within ourselves, our families and work, but I’ve learned to find solace in the madness by focusing on the variables I do have control over. In owning my mornings, giving back and minimizing my mental clutter, I’ve found a new clarity in not only my work, but in myself.