Well, things sure have shifted in a week or two.  Our world looks vastly different.

This is uncharted territory for most of us and many people are scared and confused. 

For some of us, it means serious illness and even death.  For more of us, it means weeks or months without income which may bankrupt us.

But I believe — and maybe this is my internal optimist speaking — that most of us will be okay after enduring whatever blows we are dealt.  If we stay at home as much as possible and practice social distancing, hopefully we can “flatten the curve” and help our healthcare system handle this crisis. 

(NOTE: I’d be naive and negligent to not recognize that I am young and healthy and not nearly as at-risk as some people. Even if I get the virus, I will most likely be okay. Many will not.)

Even if that’s the case, being locked down at home while most businesses are closed and our kids are home presents a whole host of other problems for most people.

And while those problems aren’t as dire as people getting the virus, or losing jobs, they are still impactful to families and worth discussing so we can try to combat them.

As a person who has worked from home for 15 years, I wanted to offer some advice on how we can approach this time of lockdown and try to make the best of a bad situation. If we are lucky, we can find creative ways to actually maintain our ground or even be in a better position once everything calms down.

When restrictions like this happen, it forces us to be creative — on how we best use our time and how we approach our lives and business.  

I want us to try to hold each other accountable.

Here are a few ways I want us to try and spend this time, as well as some offerings to fill up those extra hours in your day.

This column is about connecting. So first and foremost, I want us to do everything we can to keep those connections alive.  That means virtual meetups, video chats, and phone calls. This is a great time to get back to having real conversations with real people.

And though having my daughter at home for weeks or months will be challenging for me (even more so with multiple-child parents), I’d like to take that chance to deepen that connection.  To see it as an opportunity to improve our relationship. Being closer with our closest loved ones should not be a burden, especially when this disease is keeping us from so many more.

This is a time for gratitude if you aren’t in the high risk categories.

Secondly, I don’t want myself or my daughter to spend endless time scrolling on social media. Yes, finding an escape and doing some brain dead content watching is sometimes needed. Not every moment needs to be hyperproductive. But I don’t want to waste the hours away hiding.

I want us to use this opportunity to do those things that always slip through the cracks when we are caught up working in our businesses, in the day-to-day tasks.

For me, that means finishing my book, starting my new screenplay, and working on creating video content that has been sitting “on the shelf” for months.

For you, that may mean working on creating that first speech, building that table you wanted to, or restoring that car sitting in the garage.  

Let’s think: how can we utilize this time to make progress, while everything else has stopped?  How can we creatively treat this situation as an opportunity. (Bonus points if any of these activities include our family members.)

There are free courses being offered, books going on sale, and countless hours of free Youtube tutorials.  

How can we invest this time in ourselves so that we see a return on that investment?  

Third, we can use this time to clean!  I don’t mean just disinfect door knobs, but actually clean out that basement or those closets and get our Marie Kondo on.  I know I’m terrible about getting around to these tasks and maybe you are, too.

When we do clean out those closets, a new opportunity arises to generate income.  There are things all around us that we haven’t used in years. And there are markets now where we can easily sell them (Facebook Marketplace, Amazon, eBay, Poshmark).  

The shipping industry may get hit hard by this and people might not be buying non-necessities, but let’s ask: what do we have that someone might need?  Or what do we have that we might be able to sell when things settle down?

Moments like this might make us realize that our amazing Star Wars collection really adds very little to our lives, but the $1000 we could get from it does.  (Bonus points again if you can clean and/or sell needless items with family.)

This is a challenge like many of us haven’t seen.  But if we change our perspective, it can be an opportunity to connect deeper, consciously consume, and create new income streams.

Lastly, I wanted to offer some options for those people interested in learning during this time:

  1. I host a free podcast on how we can use storytelling in our marketing called “The Storytelling Lab”.  Storytelling is all about connecting at a heart level with our communities, even if we lack expensive or technical equipment.  This is a perfect opportunity to learn how to more deeply connect with people. Season 4 is under way and the guests are the biggest we’ve hosted yet. 
  2. For those more interested in storytelling, I offer a Weekly Storytelling Tip on Mondays via email. I write one simple tip, dissect it and what it means, and then talk about how you can apply it to your strategy.  
  3. Last year, I hosted the Health and Happiness Storytelling Series in Durham and we have those videos available on Youtube. This is a great chance to hear how real people navigate obstacles in their health, lives, businesses, and overall happiness.
  4. I directed my first feature documentary called Raise Up: The World is Our Gym that is available for free on RedBull TV. This is an inspirational film about a group of people who changed the world and it also shows you how to get fit when your gym is closed! (which is something all of us are going through).

Hopefully some of those options help some of you.  But at the end of the day, I just want us all to stay safe and stay healthy.  If we can find creative ways to sustain, or even improve, during this time, let’s try.

But first, let’s all focus on what matters most: protecting our people.  That means all of us. 

Rain Bennett is a two-time Emmy-nominated filmmaker, writer, and competitive storyteller with over a decade of experience producing documentary films that focus on health and wellness. His mission is simple: to make the world happier and healthier by sharing stories of change.

You can read the rest of “Right as Rain” here, and check back every Wednesday on Chapelboro for a new column!