This morning, more Americans than ever are looking out their bedroom windows asking themselves “what should I do today?”
In a nation at war with COVID-19, the answer to that question cannot include restaurants, schools, office buildings, or other public gathering events.
In short, quarantined Americans have more “downtime” now than ever before.
For some, downtime is synonymous with wasted time, which it certainly can be. Watching Netflix, playing video games, and scrolling social media is likely a waste of downtime.
But downtime can also change your life as well; in a way that your current routine never could.
Although our work output is down, we finally have time to step back and evaluate our efforts and start thinking about our production outputs.
Our production outputs are what really matter, this isn’t how hard or how much you work, but the value you are creating through your work.
As a simple example, the guy bagging groceries at your local supermarket (sadly) works harder in many ways than the boss, but their production outputs are different. While some are producing 1x their efforts, others are leveraging themselves 10x,100x, or 1000x. This could be through technology, influence, or owned equity.
Although, the contrast is the greatest at the very top 1% of 1%; the lesson is applicable to working people at every level.
Using downtime to re-evaluate how we work/ what we work on, then analyzing the production outputs that come out of our work is why I believe downtime is highly valuable. This was especially true for me in 2017.
In 2017, I was still heavily involved in production tree work, making my living climbing trees and running a chainsaw. (Often simulanteouslly)
I genuinely enjoyed this life, and felt no need to evaluate my current career path or re-evaluate my work outputs in this physically exhausting job.
That changed when a climbing accident broke 12 bones in my right ankle.
Beyond the physical pain, I was now looking at over $25,000 in hospital bills and was let go from my current job with no financial help from worker’s comp or my current employer. Winter was fast aproaching and I was faced with the prospect of not working again until spring of 2018.
On crutches, unable to walk, drive, or even stand upright for the next 5 months, I was also facing boredom like I had never experienced before.
You might say I had some downtime.
I won’t pretend like it wasn’t rough, but my life would be nowhere near where it is today if I hadn’t sustained that injury.
In those 5 months I obtained my Certified Arborist Certification, began reading regularly, and created the business plan for the company I started the following year.
Beyond that, I spent every day hanging out with my extremely wise and successful grandfather, Larry. Advice and wisdom that he imparted to me during that time still reverberates in my head whenever I face a big life decision.
This is no exageration, most of my life successes up until now are a direct/indirect result of how I spent that 5 months.
Flash forward to today. The quarentined US is suffering mentally, financially, and (possibly) physically from the COVID-19 pandemic, and are faced with some major downtime.
Although this time is much more favorable for me than the 5 months I spent “broken and mangled” in 2017, I can’t help but see some potential similarities. My investments are tanking, my work in CA is at a standstill, and again I am faced with more downtime.
How will I spend this downtime to make it as impactful as the 5 months in 2017 was?
I don’t know if that’s possible considering how crucial that time was in my overall life trajectory, but here is what I’ve got so far.
- I’m learning programming, and have begun coding an arborist related app with a small team at my company
- I’ve returned to a daily bible reading practice, feeling a sense of joy and peace that “surpasses understanding” with a national pandemic going on.
- I’ve started a creative writing class. This should benefit both you (the readers of the blog) and my co-workers who have to trudge through my “Wellness Wednesday” articles at work.
- I’ve reconnected with my love for fly fishing and am learning the art of “Tenkara fishing,” which is an ancient method of japanese fly fishing that uses only a rod, line, and fly to fish mountain streams.
I challenge you to make a similar list, and execute on it!!! We can benefit from this potentially hard time just as I did in 2017, both individually (first) and then collectively.
So how will you spend this time? I believe you have an opportunity to radically transform your future with the seeds you plant in the coming weeks.