The changes brought on by COVID-19 have turned most people’s days upside down. But by establishing structure, creating a checklist and placing a divide between work and life, you can find calm in chaos.


In challenging times, it’s a smart idea to revisit the fundamentals of good business. This April, go Back to Basics with Inman.

It’s week five for me with no end in sight. I must confess: For the first 10 days, I think I was in shock. I’d been moving so fast that, when the governor said, “if you meet these two conditions, stay home,” I felt like I hit a wall at 60 mph. 

Talk about a grinding halt. I was speeding through life one minute, and the next thing I know, the floor was dropping out from under my feet. I didn’t realize it, but I felt like all of the jigsaw pieces that were the puzzle of my life suddenly were broken up and floating in midair — dancing chaotically, but never coming together. 

I found myself walking around in circles, not sure what I was doing from one minute to the next. Around day 10, I woke up and thought, “I can do this.” The question was — how? I’m sharing my story in the hopes that my journey will help you. These are the things that made a  difference for me.  

Establish structure

First, create structure for your day. Here’s what I did and encourage you to do:

  1. Dedicate a notebook to your morning. List what you are grateful for, write your affirmation if you have one, set a few priorities for the day, add an exercise goal, and you are off. 
  2. Shower and get dressed as though you are getting on a video call or going into a virtual meeting. Wear whatever perks you up! You’ll be amazed how this sets you up for a successful day.
  3. Exercise. I wear my pedometer every day. You’d be surprised at the number of steps you can accumulate by just walking around your house. Take an exercise break in your day, one that’s long enough to satisfy your reasonable daily threshold. 
  4. Eat well. I was off my diet prior to being home. I immediately stopped fooling around. Junk food does no favors for my immune system, energy levels or mood.

So, you’ve got your life and emotional base figured out. Now what?

Finesse your business plan

Now, to keep your head in the game of “work,” here’s what you need to do. Get real with your 2020 business plan. Mine was shattered — to the core. I had just switched brokerages and was set to leap into my 2020 plan, central to which was door-knocking in my farm and open houses. I sat down and took a long, hard look. Here’s where I landed:

  1. I moved two of my Q3 and Q4 projects forward. I’m getting everything ready so that one project is “ready to go” as soon as I feel the time is right.
  2. As for planned events, I am moving them forward and doing them virtually. I realized that, in some ways, it’s easier. No room to rent and all the complications that go with that. It’s true that it most likely isn’t as “sticky” as being in a room with potential clients, but it will have to do for now. We can resume face-to-face events whenever it’s possible and safe to do them again.
  3. The stuff you’ve been “meaning to do”? Now’s the time. Put a master checklist together, prioritize it, put it in your book or in one of your apps, and start to check off those boxes! The smaller you break down your list, the easier it will be to stick to it. You’ll find yourself checking things off before you know it. It’s self-fulfilling and will give you built-in motivation to continue.

There’s so much more you can do. Check all of your online profiles. Clean ‘em up! Been meaning to “get on” LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram? Do it! Need to spiff up your website? It’s on the list. 

Need to clean up your database? Go for it. Have a license renewal coming up? Now’s the time. There are tons of educational offerings available. It’s a cost-free way to stimulate your brain, meet other colleagues and set up some virtual contacts (referral database).

Don’t forget to reach out and make a list of important peeps. Call, leave voice messages, send short videos via text, and let them know you are thinking about them.

Leave ‘the office’ behind when it’s time

Finally, draw a line between the day and the evening. Now that you’ve created a structure for yourself, you’ll know when it’s time to stop for the day, and you’ll feel good about doing it. Change your clothes. Now, you should be ready to hang out (guilt free) and feel good about what you have accomplished.  

And don’t forget to recharge. Having a rough day? Treat yourself to a Netflix binge or a luscious bath. Remember that tomorrow is a new day. 

Throughout this process, I’ve had a realization. This kind of time will never come again! (I hope). What are the things you’ll wish you had completed when this is all over? Pick three to four projects, and get going.

Here’s what I know: I don’t want to get to the other side of this tunnel feeling like I have wasted all of this time.  

Let’s have a conversation. What are you doing to move through? If you are interested in the apps that I use or my daily planner, I am happy to share. Let me know. Have any of your own favorites? I’d love to hear about them.

Barb Zuckerwise is a Realtor at Coldwell Banker Realty in in San Diego’s North County. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Facebook.

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