Out of Order mental fatigueIf you’ve ever worked with me, read my blogs, or heard me speak, you know that, under normal circumstances, I’m a big fan of setting goals and finding ways to increase productivity. But right now, things are not normal. COVID-19 and quarantine are presenting new and difficult challenges for all of us. In learning to cope, I recently had quite an epiphany, and I want to share it in hopes that it’ll help you cope during this incredibly difficult time. 

Prior to coronavirus and this global pandemic, I typically had two or three top-priority goals on my daily to-do list, in addition to all my regular work activities. But ever since I started sheltering in place, I’m not nearly as consistent, and I often feel like I’m strapped into a seat on a nonstop, constantly changing roller coaster. 

Some days I’m uber-productive and feel super accomplished at the end of the day. But on other days – even though I’m busy doing … something – I feel like I’m not actually getting anything done at all. Early on, when I had a less-than-stellar day, I used to beat myself up a little bit regarding the decline in productivity. I mean, if I have all this extra time on my hands, shouldn’t I be getting even more stuff done?

It was during a recent phone conversation with a friend that I had the epiphany I mentioned earlier. I realized that while many of us technically have more time on our hands, we are also juggling something new to the mix: mental fatigue. And we have to give ourselves the time and space to deal with it.

One of my clients put it this way:

“Let’s say my brick and mortar business was tragically burned to the ground, and all employees had to start working from home. It’d be challenging, but we’d also have hope. We’d know that one day, once a new building was ready, we’d all physically go back to work, and things would return to normal. Right now, it’s all up in the air and we don’t know what’s going to happen, or even if we’ll ever get back to what we once considered to be normal.”

We are, indeed, living in a time of great uncertainty. Personally, I find myself constantly vacillating between, “This is all so surreal,” and “I’m so damn angry at this virus and its destruction.” I know I’m not alone.

Most of us encounter a swirl of different emotions every day. It’s like stepping into a boxing ring but your opponent is a ghost – so you can’t see your opponent or tell where the hits are coming from. It’s hard to know how you’re going to feel from day to day, like whether you’ll be sad or angry, productive or unproductive, mentally alert, or brain dead. 

Humans instinctively run from discomfort and avoid pain. But I’ve found that if we honor those feelings … be with them … then the discomfort and pain dissipate much faster. I know it sounds counterintuitive and counterproductive, but those feelings are coming up for a reason, and if you allow yourself to feel them, then you’ll be able to get past them. In other words, instead of letting the ghost go for a knockout, take a few hits to wear it down. Learn from the punches, find some new moves, and develop a new strategy.

Start with being kind and giving yourself a break, along with permission to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. That could include things like walking around the block, planting flowers, or binge-watching a new series. Embrace the extra time you have, and treasure the smallest of moments with yourself, shelter-in-place roommates, companions, and family members. And most of all, don’t give up – we’re going to get through this together.

What’s Your Epiphany?

Have you had a major shift in your way of thinking as a result of COVID-19 and working from home? Please tell us about your epiphany, any lessons you’ve learned, and what helps you get through the day. Let’s get the conversation going.


Most leaders struggle with disengagement, dysfunction, and non-productive behaviors with their teams. We deliver training that develops leaders and engages teams to increase your company results.