A month ago so much of our world, as we have known it, came to a screeching halt. We’ve found ourselves at home with time on our hands.

Time management while quarantined.

Over the last several weeks, this column has encouraged you to focus on what you can change rather than all that is beyond your control. Stephen Covey brilliantly talked about the concept of the “Circle of Concern” and “Circle of Influence” in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

In the article, “And Now You Have the Time,” we talked about tackling some of the things you said you would love to do “if only I had the time.” Just last week, we revisited that topic, asking “Are You Better?” We looked at whether or not we have taken this newly found time and improved ourselves in some way.

But today, the focus is on “Are You Ready?”

Here’s what’s about to happen. When this country opens back up, everybody is going to be rushing to do the same things at the same time. It will be like Christmas Eve at the mall. Everybody will be trying to reschedule hair appointments, dental appointments, and doctor visits. So, are you going to be ready with a list of those quick calls and the phone numbers? Or, are you going to be left behind and find that your hairdresser is now booked for the next 2 months?

For teachers, you are going to end the school year having taught via distance learning. Soon, you’re going to be looking at next year. There’s scheduling. There are tryouts yet to be held, not only for your students but for your own children. Are you ready with a plan for exactly what you’re going to do, what information you are waiting on from others, and how and when you’ll follow-up if you don’t get that information? Even people who normally handle details are finding themselves with loose ends everywhere.

You’ll need to be ready in a compressed amount of time, ready to teach in the traditional way with students in front of you, or ready to open school with students in their own homes. You may not know which it’s going to be for quite a while.

These questions aren’t meant to alarm you. They’re meant to prepare you. Here are my three suggestions for what you can do, and start today:

  1. Clear the backlog. Handle those little tasks that have been hanging around for far too long. Figure out what’s keeping them stuck. Do you need to make a phone call to get a project moving? Do you need to have a conversation with your spouse to hammer out details? Maybe you’ll find some tasks or projects to do dump altogether. You can’t have the weight of the past dragging you down when you need to be ready when the starting gun sounds.
  2. Make your plan. Get everything you need to do in one place. I’m a big believer in using a digital task list. You’ll never have to rewrite anything. Moving tasks around is easy.
  3. Make if fun. Make it easy. When you’ve done the work of clearing the clutter from the past and making the list for handling the future, you can breathe and enjoy the present. Enjoy the time at home with family. Enjoy the time to do the things you have been putting off. Enjoy the time to hone a skill.

Soon, the dark clouds will lift. It will no longer be about time management while quarantined. The starting gun will sound. When the race begins, will you be “ready”?