How You Can Be Productive While Social Distancing…and what I’m doing to stay sane

Across the world, we are experiencing a strange and stressful time. Each day, there are new cases of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus.


One of the recommendations that many of us are currently following is social distancing.


Social distancing is a technique used by public health officials to slow down the spread of contagious diseases. It includes closing schools and businesses, cancelling public gatherings, and even imposing quarantines.


According to Wikipedia, “drawbacks of social distancing can include loneliness, reduced productivity, and the loss of other benefits associated with human interaction.”


So, let’s talk about how to make social distancing more tolerable and productive.


First, take time to rest. If you are sheltering at home, accept this opportunity to slow down, get good sleep, and maybe even take a nap or two. You don’t have to keep grinding. You’ve gained a lot of time by not driving around from place to place.


The reason for social distancing is to maintain health. Make sure that health is your top priority.


After that, here are some things that the more-well-rested you can consider:


Become a webconferencing ninja. Buy that nice webcam you’ve seen on Amazon. Set up an account with Zoom if you don’t already have one. You may decide that virtual meetings are the best things ever and plan to continue them long after coronavirus has passed. Here are some tips for facilitating excellent virtual meetings.


Sort and purge your electronic files. Clean out your email, cloud drives, network drives, computer desktop, local drives, everything! Reorganize what’s left into a coherent system of folders and subfolders that will serve you well going forward.


Catch up on business reading. Better yet, organize yourself for future reading opportunities.


Sort and purge your paper files. Declutter your office (and house!). Be like Elsa and Let. It. Go.


Stay in contact with colleagues, friends, and loved ones. Isolation can become lonely. Reach out every day to someone who makes you smile. Take special care of people who may be experiencing hard times or even pain.


Develop a new interest. Research a hobby that has fascinated you for a while. Learn more about podcasts, meditation, or platform building for example.


Revisit your goals. We are a few months into 2020. How are you doing on your annual goals? If you need to revise them, do so.



As I said earlier, this is a stressful time, especially for those among us who are immune compromised. Be especially understanding and kind to them.


Also, be tolerant of people in leadership positions who must make difficult decisions that result in social distancing. They need our love and care as well. They are doing the best they can, and that’s all we can ask of anybody.


Here’s what I’m doing…

I had some personal and business travel scheduled over the next couple of weeks. Understandably, it has all been cancelled. My husband is working from home, my daughter is home from college, and my son is home from middle school.

I decided to write and self-publish a children’s book about COVID-19. Please don’t think I’m nuts. I know that this book has a shelf life of a few weeks (at least I hope it does). But, I’m doing it anyway.

Here’s the plan:

  • I’m going to celebrate the coronavirus helpers (Fred Rogers’ style) during this crisis
  • The book will be geared toward the elementary-aged child
  • I will base a superhero on my wonderful husband who has been working tirelessly to help his company decide on their response to the pandemic. We have been jokingly calling him “Captain Corona” for a couple of weeks.
  • I will encourage donations to a charity who is helping globally with COVID-19. I’m still researching possibilities.
  • I am assembling a team of people who are also looking for something productive to do right now (I’m taking volunteers, just email I need social media sharers, book reviewers, artsy people to help me with book design, etc.
  • The first release of the book will be a PDF on my website.
  • All of this will happen as soon as humanly possible, which means it will not be perfect.

And the title of the book is…

Captain Corona & the 19 COVID Warriors

InkyBrittany is the illustrator and Julie Bestry is the editor.

Below is a rough sketch from Brittany Curry, who has asked me to reassure you that the final illustrations are going to be spectacular. Personally, I think the rough draft is pretty awesome.



If this project helps snap you out of your COVID-19 doldrums, I’m glad. It is certainly therapeutic for me.

In the meantime, be well, friends.


Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.








Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Like what you read?

Get new posts directly in your inbox!

You might also like these posts…

Enjoying these posts? Make sure you dont miss any!

If you enjoy my blog posts and want to make sure you never miss one - sign up for my newsletter! When you do, you'll also get instant access to my FREE webinar on interruptions in the workplace.

Interruptions can kill productivity. With one “Got a minute?” from a coworker or one stray thought swirling in your brain, the flow of your work can be completely disrupted.

The trouble is that few people have concrete strategies to get back on task quickly after an interruption. Some people completely lose focus…for hours! If you have tried reducing interruptions, but they still impact your ability to be effective at work, this free webinar is for you.