I was scheduled to facilitate a client session this week but it has been canceled, as have so many events in the past 5 days. On a Monday morning, with spring in the air, the last thing one wants to think about is a pandemic, yet here we are.

A global health crisis is at our doorstep and we need to be aware of what is going on and how to protect ourselves and our loved ones. I can’t stand fear-mongering or how the constant barrage of doom from the media whips people up so let’s go at this with a healthy dose of optimism, knowing that there are some things we can do to control our exposure.

Let’s get started with some basic information (I sourced all the information here from the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control.

  • COVID-19 is a novel Coronavirus, which means that it is a new strain of a Coronavirus.
  • Antibiotics will NOT help. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. COVID-19 is a virus and therefore is unaffected by antibiotics.
  • According to the CDC, older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease seem to be at higher risk for serious illness.

This is no joke but we deal with flu season every year and, while COVID-19 is spreading, we can get in front of it.

The CDC and the WHO both report that the majority of COVID-19 cases are/will be mild. As with many viruses, the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions are at greater risk of developing more severe cases. If you are generally healthy, your risk is lower. To help reduce your risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus, It is essential to protect yourself.

Here are some steps that we should all practice, regardless of COVID-19 or not.

    • Scrub up! Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, for at least 20 seconds with vigorous rubbing using soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizing liquid or gel. This is true even when there is no pandemic. Hand washing it critical to health given all the surfaces we touch minute-by-minute.
    • Get in your bubble! It is recommended to maintain at least 3 feet (1 meter) of personal space between you and others (although I’ve heard 6 feet, too). This can prevent any spray from a cough or sneeze getting on you and then, being transmitted to your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you cannot maintain that distance……
    • Hands off! Given how COVID-19, the flu, and other viruses spread we should all avoid touching our faces throughout the day, unless our hands are clean. According to one study, the average person touches his/her face 23 times per hour, with almost half of those touches being to the eyes, nose, and mouth. Imagine everything else you touch in the average day and then, not washing your hands before you touch your face. This is a hard habit to break and, while masks are not recommended, they may help you realize how often you are touching your face.
    • Practice your etiquette! Coughing and sneezing are unavoidable. Allergies, the common cold, the neighbor’s cat, Marie Kondo-ing your attic – all of these thing can make you sneeze and cough but it is important (just like it has ALWAYS been important) to practice proper etiquette when you do. Don’t cough open-mouthed. Don’t sneeze with gusto (those who waaaahhhhh-chhhhhooooooo, drive me mad!). For either situation, cough into a tissue, immediately dispose of that tissue and wash your hands. But what if you can’t do all of those? I’ve solved that for you:
      • If you don’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze into the crook of your arm (elbow). Wrap your arm over your nose and mouth to make sure you are impeding the spray.
      • If you can’t throw the tissue away, tuck it into a plastic sandwich bag to be disposed of later.
      • If you can’t wash your hands immediately, use hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol.
        • If you don’t have hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol, do all you can not to touch your face until you’ve had a chance to thoroughly wash your hands.
    • Stay home! If you have symptoms or are ill, do everyone else a favor and stay home. Don’t “power through” and go to the office, the gym, the party, etc. It’s one of the reasons this virus is spreading like it is. If you have a cough, a fever, or difficulty breathing contact your doctor or hospital to report your symptoms before going in.
    • Leave the masks for the professionals. Likely, you will not need a mask. Health officials have stated that a mask is only necessary for those who are already ill and/or caring for others. If you care for a parent or a child and are sneezing or coughing, a mask may benefit. Check out the CDC and WHO websites to get all the latest information. DO NOT get your Coronavirus updates from social media. There are scams, panic inducing stories, and lots of false advice.

The big question is: Should you cancel your travel? Many businesses and organizations are making that answer easy by canceling events, conferences, and meetings. Many are moving to video conferences to reduce the need for face-to-face interactions.

Personal travel is a bit trickier and I would advise that you do what makes you comfortable. If you are traveling to Australia in May, are in good health and practice good hygiene, I would say your chances of enjoying your trip are high. If you are just getting over pneumonia now and slated to visit Tuscany in early April, I might postpone.

On a personal soapbox, I would like to add that it is about time more companies explore telecommute/remote work options. It is hot now as a way to fight the spread of COVID-19, and hopefully, those that do this as a new thing now realize the benefits long after we’ve solved the current crisis. As someone who has been remote for the better part of 2 decades, I applaud the companies who have made this a part of business-as-usual. Telecommuting saves times, reduces carbon emissions, lowers overhead, increases employee engagement and, in many cases, increases productivity.

There you go, I hope you found something useful here. I would add that COVID-19 is serious but solvable, so let’s not panic, let’s remember that ‘this too shall pass’, and let’s remember to be kind to all we meet (even if we don’t shake hands with them).

Stay safe, stay sane, and thanks for stopping by!


Life on the road can be great! Traveling and exploring new places is enlightening and exciting but, when you make your living traveling or have a job that requires near-constant travel, it can be challenging to find a routine that works.

Here are my best productivity tips for living as digital nomad and getting things done while on the road. While I am not an expert, I have used these tips successfully for the past 15 years of working remotely more than 95% of the time. Of course, what works for me may not work for you but, hopefully, these ideas will get you started.

Get your head right. Being productive (at home/office and on the road, requires you to have the right mindset. Motivation comes from many different places and understand that even if you are on the road or working remotely, you still have a job to do and obligations to clients and co-workers. Never forget that. Your goal should be for the change in your work location to be invisible to your clients – no interruptions in deliverables or communications. If you are stuck for motivation, check out some podcasts on the topic. One I consider a must-listen is this, from Carter Ferguson.

Create a schedule. Start by determining the time zone of where you are and how you can make that work for your clients. If you aren’t beholden to any specific times, go wild and work when you feel at your best/most creative. In either case, you should make a schedule that breaks up the workday. How much time do you need for your priority tasks? Have you allocated time to answer communications? Is there a block of writing/creating time? Did you factor in breaks for food or exercise?

Craft a dedicated working space. Whether you are sitting in the hotel, a coffee shop, or just an open space on a sunny day, you need to have the right set-up. I don’t recommend a public space unless you can adequately spread out and have enough flat surface for your laptop/tablet, writing paraphernalia, assorted chargers/battery packs, and a beverage. You also need to be honest with yourself regarding your tolerance for distraction. Can you really focus properly with people walking by or with television yammering away in the background?Also, if you are working from a coffee shop or café, please be courteous and purchase food/drink regularly. These establishments are in business for selling food, not for hosting your ass for free.

Make a priority list. This goes along with creating your daily schedule and creating a seamless experience for your clients. What are the top 4 things you must get done each day? Make that list each night for the following day and do your absolute best to accomplish each task. I find it’s never a good idea to set more than 4 must-do tasks because it dilutes the critical nature of a priority.

Be ready to work at odd hours. I know this sort of contradicts number 2, but if you are in a timezone different from your clients or core customer base, consider working those hours. It’s all about the seamless experience.

Enjoy your downtime!! Working remotely is great and offers a certain level of freedom but it is still work so when you have downtime or off time, get out and enjoy all your locale has to offer. If you are traveling some place you really want to enjoy try to arrive 2-3 days before your typical work week begins. This will give you time for the must-see things on your destination wishlist and a bit of time to settle in and prepare for your work schedule.

Bonus Tip!!!! Make your environment as close to home/your happy place as you can. If you have touches of home, you can relax and be more productive and focused. For example, as I write this I am holed up at a hotel in Troy, Michigan working on client strategy stuff for the week. To make my hotel room as pleasant a workspace as possible, I brought my small travel candle to overpower stale hotel room odors and cozy socks to keep my toes toasty. Without these things I would probably be fussy and unfocused on the work I need to do. You may take a small framed photo, favorite wrap or lounge pants, or even a wrist rest for your keyboard.

These tips can be used even if you are traveling to relatives for the holidays but not taking any official time off.

What do you think? Did I miss anything? I’d love to read your tips for getting the most from working remotely so share your ideas in the comments and thanks for stopping by!