Coronavirus – Keeping connected and avoiding the overwhelm


Disclaimer:  Work Wife Wine Time promote social distancing, only leaving your house when necessary, washing your hand for 20 seconds and awarding yourself one more glass of wine, or alcoholic beverage of your choice per night during the coronavirus pandemic. Work Wife Wine Time also only promotes the responsible drinking of alcohol…

Mikala [0:23] – Thanks for tuning in to Episode Two of Work Wife Wine Time. In this episode, Rowena, Gemma and I talk about the challenges surrounding COVID-19 and some ways in which you can move through the stress and overwhelm and make some small but positive changes to your business and mindset. Just one other thing to mention. This is our first time as podcast parents and we definitely still have our L plates on. Some of the audio in this episode isn’t great. Our lesson for today, despite what others say, microphones matter.

Mikala [0:54] – All the shoulds and the, you know, ‘you have to do this,’ and, ‘you should be doing that.’ I think that’s what got me down, that’s what I was struggling with. It’s like, you know, ‘I should be looking at ways to pivot and I’ve got the technical know how to pivot on a dime and I should be doing this and I should be doing that.’ But it’s like, I just don’t have the energy. I’m trying to deal with my anxiety around this whole thing and, with having my kids home and you know, I had a discussion with them a couple of days ago, because I don’t know why, but I just kind of assumed that they understood that this whole homeschooling thing is sort of indefinite, but they just kind of thought, ‘oh no, we’ll go back for term two, we’ll have maybe two weeks at home and then we’ll be back at school.’ So you know, I then had to have the conversation around ‘well, no, we don’t know how long this is going on for like this is just now the status quo until it’s not.’ And um, yeah, I think, I was just really struggling with the, ‘I should be doing this and I should be doing that,’ and it just made me feel really tired and I got really down and I just didn’t want to do anything, my motivation was in the gutter. And then all these clients contacting me and just watching them on social media going, ‘I’ve got to close my doors,’ and, ‘I’m losing all my clients,’ and it just, it just all really got to me. And yeah, I just really let it drag me down. And you know, this week, it’s been a case of, unless it’s a phone call, it’s not happening. Because I was not looking this put together all week, it was just, you know, out of the shower, into the track suit, don’t worry about hair, make-up, anything. I’m just kind of sitting behind the computer, doing a bit of mucking around with work but not really having my heart in it and then this morning in the shower, I just kind of went ‘okay, my problem is I’m focusing too much on myself. I need to focus on my clients and be more of a mindset of ‘how can I serve?” because everyone’s going through this it’s not just me, but I got in the whole wallowing, ‘oh, poor me, it’s so hard’ thing. So, that has really helped, like, today I got up, I made the kids bacon and egg sandwiches for breakfast. And I’ve just got a completely different mindset like, I’ve got my energy back, I’m feeling motivated, I’m ready to jump in and do this and to get out and help other people again.

Rowena [3:18] – And in a way, I kind of embrace it. I mean, you’re obviously a few weeks ahead of me with regards to the being at home and doing all the things like stress and pressure. And so the first week, I tried to do all the things on top of the fact I had the kids around, on top of the fact that you know, I should be *inaudible* or, I should be doing this, or, you know, we’ve got this time we should be spending time together, we should, should, should, should, should. and I was so burnt out by Friday. Like, I’ve experienced burn out before and it’s been like a slow burn over three months or five months, six months. But this was like all compressed into a week, like it was like, not only did I have all of these emotions going through me, I had all these, like self imposed pressures going on me. I, you know, I was being bombarded with information that was adding to my own personal anxiety, which is something that I’ve always had to deal with anyway. And then I sort of had the pressure of the unknown of what was going on with my business. I literally burnt out within a week, I crashed I don’t think I left my bed that weekend, I read a whole book, I literally just checked out. And I read something that said that this isn’t normal, it’s not a normal situation, there isn’t a precedent, like, ‘you should be responding like this,’ because there’s been none of these before. There’s been no *inaudible* before in this situation and it’s one of the things that I’ve done in my business a lot. It’s like, set your own freaking boundaries. You make the rules. As long as you are communicating that with people, be it family, be it friends, be it your clients. That’s entirely okay so we *inaudible* anymore. I’m going to let my body sleep. I am going to make sure I am going out on a walk with my kids, I’m like, ‘hmm this is a novelty,’ you know, like suddenly we get told that we can’t go outside and we’re like, ‘ooh we can go outside *inaudible*. I shifted how I work and where I work and when I work to work with the situation and I feel like we get told this is how it should be. But it doesn’t have to be that way, that’s one of the things I feel like you learn mostly from your own business is that, if you keep trying to live up to someone else’s expectations, you may as well be in a corporate job

Mikala [4:51] – Yeah

Gemma [4:56] – Mmhm

Rowena [5:04] – You know, the whole point of this is that we want to be here we want to do this and we want to be different. So, you know, I’ve been getting phone calls from girlfriends more than I normally would, that’s my lunch break. And I do it sitting in the sunshine going, ‘okay, this is okay.’ You know, I’m working on my laptop in front of the TV at night after the kids go to bed because that’s when I feel like when no-one’s around, that’s when I can get stuff done and feel okay with that because I’m feeling like I don’t have that other stuff that I should be doing. So by settings these new boundaries, I feel like suddenly it’s okay. And I have to admit, Mikala taught me this one, on her disaster day planner. Like I remember it saying, what three things do I want to get done today? I cut that back. It’s down to one. If I can get one thing done, and know that I’ve got that done, then I’m okay. I’m good.

Mikala [7:02] – Yeah.

Rowena [7:02] – You know, I don’t have to work my way through a three page to-do list because, ‘I have all of this time!’

Mikala [7:08] – I was talking to a client earlier in the week and she’s got five kids who are now all at home with her trying to run her business. And her goal is to spend one hour on her business a day. Like, that’s it. She just went, set the bar low, so I can reach it every time.

Rowena [7:26] – Yeah.

Mikala [7:26]- It’s Yeah, it’s really true. You’ve got to look at what you can do. And one thing that I did early on, like, right before I started burning myself out was, and I was really pleased I did this, I actually put an out of office notification on my email, you guys have probably seen it. Everything’s crazy at the moment, I’m trying to keep up but I can’t, so, because normally my clients have an expectation that I respond to emails within 24 hours, but it’s like, you know, at the moment, it’s really hard to keep my head in the right space. So, just giving myself that breathing room actually made a really big difference. I wouldn’t open my email and go, ‘oh my God, I’ve got to deal with it all!’ Just having that pressure off, so, sort of shifting that boundary and communicating that to my clients. Like that really made a big difference for me that really, really helped. I’m planning on doing a bit more, I’ve got a newsletter coming out next month, and I was thinking okay, what do I want to communicate, what’s my next phase of my boundary shift so I can still, you know, get everything done. Well, everything that I want to get done, while still giving myself time and space and all that sort of thing.

Rowena [8:44] – I love how both Gemma and I cringe when you mention that you were communicating to your email list. Because, it’s funny, everyone keep using this time, you know, they’re going, ‘use this time to educate. Do all of these extra things! Don’t just do what you have been doing, do more!’ And it’s like for me it’s actually, you know, I live in tropical North Queensland. We have disasters like this come through where it effects business, you know, we’ve just had the bush fires, you know, there’s been fundamental things that change your business. And it’s when it comes around and highlights the one glaring point in your business, like, we can all talk the talk and we all are really confident in our business, we’re always really looking for that next way to move forward and what we want to be doing in the business. But even we don’t necessarily have all of our ducks in a row, and me and Gemma… Email lists.

Gemma [9:40] – Email lists. It’s something that if we had in place, we could be utilising very well at the moment. And I think it’s really important to think, okay, so yes, we’re feeling we have so much pressure at the moment because everyone’s saying we have all this time now because yes, everyone’s losing clients, people have had to shut their doors, they don’t currently need my services. But the doom and gloom of that is we know that there is another side. It’s like we’re sort of walking over this bridge at the moment and we will get to the outside. People will reopen, businesses will come back, our clients aren’t leaving us forever. Some businesses I’m sure won’t make it, but you know, I think most of us will be okay. And just the pressure of everyone saying things like, ‘you’ve got all this time now to do all of the things!’ But, it’s not always that realistic, but there is a time now, like how Rowena said before, to take it down a level, give yourself one goal instead of the three don’t increase that pressure. There’s pressure coming from everywhere at the moment, and I just think, yes, so if I had my email list, my communicating with my clients would have taken a far shorter amount of time, but now’s the time to fix that up. And it’s going to help us when we’re on the other side of this, right?

Rowena [11:23] – And that’s my singular thing as well, my singular thing that even if I had that sort of like, don’t get me wrong, I’m super grateful I’ve got my website up before now, because at least I had somewhere to direct them, thanks to Gemma’s writing all of my copy and actually spending the last six months getting that up. But, it’s great having somewhere to direct them, but, by not having an email list and a plan on how to communicate with people past that point. You know, when something comes up whether there’s a shift in your business, whether there is a natural disaster, whether, you know, you have a new service, or, you know, you just want to have someone to gossip with, like whatever it is by having that connection with people and having a foundation for it and having it all set up, would make life a lot easier right now.

Mikala [12:08] – A really good way. A really good strategic thing to do right now, which comes out of what we’re talking about, is to think about how you can serve your clients in this time. Like, what can you offer them? What value can you offer them? And I’m thinking lead magnet that’s, you know, where my mind’s going. So, what can you offer people to get them onto your email list right now, something that will help them through this period or get them thinking towards, because like Gemma said, you know, we’ve just gotta cross these bridge. So what things are sitting just at the other side of the bridge that we can start directing people’s minds to now and how, especially for you know, service based businesses, how can we start offering people thoughts and guidance in that direction that will A, catch their interest so that they’ll sign up to download the cheat sheet or watch the video or whatever it is. So that you can build your list like, now really is a brilliant time to start building your email list. Like, my brains always going with a million ideas and I’m like, ‘okay, what can I offer people that’s really useful to them right now?’ You know, it’s important to keep building your authority in your field so that when all this is over, people go, ‘oh my god, Rowena was like, totally all over this and just communicating constantly about, you know, where to once we cross this bridge!’ So you know, you’re front and centre in their mind. Like in that respect, now, it doesn’t matter that you don’t have one. But now is a really good time, even if you can just come up with something really simple like top five tips or, you know, a checklist or something.

Rowena [14:03] –
One of the things that I was thinking about, and I’ve been thinking from that point is that, you don’t neccasarily need to be doing all the things right now, it can be thinking about things. You know, you’ve got this brain space, a little bit more, or actually, just an excuse to think about something different. And think about the other side. You know, think of the pot of gold and the end of the rainbow when all of this is over and when you can suddenly go, ‘okay, I can breathe again, I’m over the bridge. What next?’ And as an example, something I’ve been thinking about as well is, okay, so I have four specific areas that I offer services in. How can I get people in the mindset of like thinking about this now, so that when they are ready on the other side. You know, it’s not necessarily always about, do this big thing now or make this big investment, it’s more about just getting people in that space and in that mindset to be ready for what’s on the other side.

Mikala [15:07] – Yeah, like doing the pre work.

Rowena [15:10] – Yeah!

Gemma [15:10] – Using it as more of an opportunity rather than a doom and gloom and especially if we’re talking about lead magnets and emails and things like that, it is keeping us front of mind for people when they may be ready to make that investment.

Rowena [15:29] – I think a lot of what people are doing– like, I don’t know about you guys but, my inbox is flooded at the moment.

Mikala [15:36] – Yeah.

Gemma [15:37] – Mhm!

Rowena [15:37] – So, still, figuring out that thing, that’s gonna make you seem a little apart. And I can’t help but think, like, the stuff that I’m reading and responding to the most at the moment on social media, when I scan through my inbox and aim to get it down to zero– by the way Mikala, its not happening at the moment– the people that I’ve seen be real through this, are the ones that I’m most likely keen to see opening. So, it’s that connection between, showing up social media and being really real and really honest, and seeing that come through in the emails, not suddenly just being filtered through this funnel that they would use in normal times. You know, it’s looking at how you can tailor that to this situation, you know, and show that you are being a little bit ‘me too!’ You know, you’re kinda going, ‘I understand how you’re feeling, we’re going through the same stuff, my kids are driving me insane!’ You know, I’m working stupid hours and you know, we had noodles for the third night in a row this week. Keeping it real but going you know, I need to escape from that too, so I understand that you might be wanting to think about some of this other stuff, here’s some thoughts. You know? Because like, for instance, two people I’ve unsubscribed from I can tell I’m just in their standard funnel at the moment.

Gemma [17:06] – Yeah.

Gemma [17:06] – Mmm.

Mikala [17:07] – Some of the stuff they’re doing feels really insensitive.

Gemma [17:25] – Mmm. Mhmm.

Mikala [18:06] – It’s about you know, here’s a short video that you can send your parents to teach them how to set up Zoom or Skype so they can talk to you. So it’s kind of going, I’m trying to think of ways to step outside of the business box to make that, you know, real life connect a bit stronger with people. Because I’m exactly the same, like the people that you’ve got the real, honest, social media posts and emails from it’s like, yeah, they’re the ones I read. It’s the ones that are all still shiny business as usual, but it’s a little bit difficult. It’s like yeah, they just don’t connect with me at the moment.

Rowena [18:48] – It’s those connections– although, it’s funny I actually recently did a purge of my Facebook groups and things like that based on how they made me feel. I had a coaching session and it made me realise how important that connection is; through these times and any times because some of these accounts were making me feel less than or, I was getting really badly stuck in comparison mode or but then I was having those ones where I’d click through and I’d always watch every single one of their stories because it was just like, I got that moment where I went, ‘ah it’s not just me.’ You know, someone else is feeling this. And I comment to them and they comment back and it starts to build up this rapport. In a time when it feels like where supposed to be disconnected. It’s not, it’s actually just a distance thing, it’s not social distancing. It doesn’t matter that where supposed to be 2 metres apart. I’ve got family in New Zealand and I’m talking to them every day. I haven’t done that in years.

Mikala [19:54] – It’s interesting, the whole idea of the social distancing, you know how they keep going, ‘oh we’ve gotta social distance, social distancing,’ but then I’ve seen a few memes and things that it’s like, well, no, it’s not social distancing, it’s actually physical distancing.

Gemma [19:55] – Mmm, mhmm.

Mikala [19:59] – You’ve gotta not be socially distancing. We’ve got to be socially connecting.

Rowena [20:17] – Like, we’ve never been in the same room together.

Mikala [20:20] – There you go!

Gemma [20:20] – It’s true!

Gemma [20:21] – We’ve never even been in the same state since we’ve started this.

Rowena [20:25] – Oh wow we really haven’t!

Rowena [20:33] – Yeah, not since we’ve started this.

Gemma [20:34] – Yeah.

Rowena [20:35] – Gemma may have been in the same state as me at some point, but you know, flutting off to one of her adventures.

Gemma [20:42] – It’s really true what you say about the social distancing. It’s a physical, it’s not– I’m finding it quite strange because I have friends in all Australia and all over the world, as you know. So, for me sitting down and having a glass of wine with my best friend in Tokyo and my other best friend in Seattle and my other one in where ever, is normal. I do it all the time. You know and now people are seeing all of these Zoom meetings and, ‘we’re gonna have drinks with our friends via Zoom and Skype!’ For me, that’s so normal. But it’s really nice to see that happening more now and more locally. You know, it is really good. So there is a way that this seems to have even bought people more so together which is a really nice thing. And for me it’s very different because since Scott Morrison announced over 70’s have to be in self isolation, I don’t have children but I’ve now adopted a 74 and 76 year old “child” and I have to do everything for them and they’re very old fashioned so yesterday I had to go and pay cash at the post office to pay their electricity bill. So now I’m actually losing time because they still need their fresh bread every day and they still need things and they can’t do anything, I have to do everything for them. So that’s a very new concept for me as well. And it’s really interesting that this is also, I find, bringing people together. You know, the memes just get funnier. Everyone is still laughing about stuff, even though horrible things are happening and people are dying. You know, it’s still a time where I find that we have come together. And I think like you were saying earlier, Mikala, it’s just really nice, how can you find a way to help people in another way that’s utilising my skills but maybe not necessarily for business or in business?

Mikala [22:51] – Coming back to the personal thing, Gem, I’m actually really interested because you’ve got such a huge Italian family that I mean, it sounds like you guys, you get together a lot. How are you all coping? Like what are you doing? Like, from a family point of view to stay in touch?

Gemma [23:11] – It’s been very, very difficult especially with the two people limit. It’s a VERY big problem. We’ve been doing Zoom. So, believe it or not, we have had two Zoom calls with family.

Rowena [23:31] – Did you have to mute people?

Gemma [23:34] – Well, I mean, we tried. I wasn’t with my mum and dad at the time, but I’d gone there and taught them or taught mum what to do and then I had it on I didn’t close it I didn’t do anything and I just said you just push the left button on the mouse when this comes up type thing. My cousin taught my auntie and uncle about the mute thing, because it was manic, I’m telling you. And, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard an old Italian on the phone speaking to Italy but they think they have to scream. Like their voice will protrude to Italy. So, they were all doing that via Zoom. It was manic. It’s been okay. But it has been hard because most of my family, all of my aunties and uncles, they’re all, well over 70. So, we’re all having to do everything for all of them at the moment. And the hardest thing has actually been for them because their life is either coming to see me, or going to their brother or sister’s house, or going somewhere else, or doing that and they can’t do it anymore, so it’s been very hard on them.

Rowena [24:53] – Have you seen like any lessons that you’ve seen them actually embrace like you know, for instance, everyone says that old people are stuck in my way but I’m noticing like my mum’s embracing certain things that I didn’t think she would do with stuff like that. Her partner’s 77 so, she’s the person that’s allowed to leave her house in New Zealand to go and get shopping and stuff like that and he’s very social and very active and stuff like that so he wants to get out of the car and talk to everyone and she’s had to become a real hard-ass. And I’m like – Go mum! She’s literally laying down the law and I feel like it’s something that possibly wouldn’t have come out of her, she’s very much just gos with the flow but I feel like it bought out this really, no this is something that I’m strong about or I’ve noticed really that like it brought out the side of them where they’re really social and it’s just like they he really raw and open with us. When normally they’d be the super bubbly heavy ones, that they were really nervous to not be that person. But like from an older point of view, have you noticed that your parents embrace anything a bit different or whether there’s different dynamics going on.

Gemma [26:03] – Oh, well I know my dad is driving my mum crazy. Because, you know, he worked seven days a week for sixty years, basically, now he’s home every day and it is killing her. I can see it. I really can, but they’ll be okay. I guess but they are very, very typical, you know, always kick the man out type thing, let them runway and you know play with things and do stuff and build fences and do all that and then come home and he he doesn’t annoy her all day but I think it’s been really hard because he doesn’t know what to do. There’s only so much he can do in the garden. Like gardening and vegetables you can do every day so he’s lost. I don’t think he knows what to do. He’s probably following my mum around like a little puppy. Because he doesn’t knows what to do.

Rowena [27:09] – She needs to start purposely breaking stuff around the home so he has to fix it.

Gemma [27:12] – That’s a good idea! I’ve been thinking about buying him like a model ship or something like that, or a really big puzzle.

Gemma [27:25] – You know, something that will entertain him.

Mikala [27:28] – Yeah, my dad’s like, I mean, this is normal life for him, and me a lot of ways. Because my, my mom died 20 years ago and so dad’s been on his own for 20 years. And like he’s had a lot of health problems. He’s he just turned 82. And like, he worked really hard. And so he has, you know, shoulder problems and hip problems and arthritis and all that sort of stuff. So, and he leaves in Wagga, which is really, really hot in summer and really cold in winter. So he’s sort of developed all these hobbies that can be done inside. And he does he actually makes remote controlled boats. And like he’ll do them like get a big ship and get the plans put down to scale and then he’ll make all the tiny little intricate bits and pieces. And so that’s how he’s surviving. He’s just businesses as usual.

Gemma [28:21] – That’s great, yeah.

Mikala [28:23] – Get the boat kit for you dad, highly recommend it.

Rowena [28:26] – And, be really cheeky and pull some pieces out of the box

Mikala [28:28] – That’ll keep him going.

Gemma [28:35] – I come from a family of very organised, very OCD people and that will send him to the loony bin. He will not deal.

Rowena [28:45] – Yeah. Right.

Gemma [28:47] – That is a win:win. That is actually a really good idea.

Rowena [28:52] – But you know, I always want to buy them jigsaw puzzles from the op shop but you’re always like have that fear there’s a piece missing. My dad’s really funny, he so my mum’s fine. She’s could totally cope in her own space perfectly fine. She got, she’s very creative. She loves to read loves a movie. Loves her mac. Like, life’s pretty good when you’ve got those things sorted. My dad’s really funny. Like he’s very much hands on so he builds models as well. He’s a DIYer like he barely retired, got himself a campervan like a big, big campervan with a custom trailer on the back with his tools in it. He’s currently parked up at a camp ground with nobody in it. He’s parked up there and he’s like: “I’ve got a tennis court to myself and I’ve got this and I’ve got this but I’ve got no one to play with!”

Rowena [29:49] – He’s so funny and like my dad was never a reader but like friends of ours got him into a Kindle. *Inaudible* My dad’s a James Bond fanatic right. Like he can quote every movie, he knows all the details and I remember one time going to a trivia night and one of the categories was James Bond and my dad was like, you just saw him and he was like “I was built for this”. So he has been reading all these books and it’s so funny like every time I call him now he’s giving me a run down of what’s happening in his latest book. So my technophobe dad, sending me photos on WhatsApp as well. Like my dad got me onto WhatsApp.

Gemma [30:39]  – Very impressive.