Mental Health: Taking Care of Yourself in Isolation

A good friend recently confessed to me that the changes brought by the current social restrictions led her to her first true encounter with depression. She’s far from alone here. The changes the “new normal” has brought along with it have led to a rise in mental illness all over the world. So, today we focus on your mental health, because it is a major key for your wellbeing.

Acknowledge negative feelings. Photo Credit- Yuris Alhumaydy- Unsplash

Acknowledge negative feelings. Photo Credit- Yuris Alhumaydy- Unsplash

Acknowledging Negative Feelings: A first step towards preserving your mental health

We’re all dealing with our new normalcy differently, and as best as we can. A lot of it depends on our individual circumstances but very few people remain unaffected. With lost routines and most relationships being impacted in some way, some people are faced with new battles regarding mental health while others deal with the exacerbation of preexisting conditions.

No matter where or who we are, it feels like these strange times call for a special effort when it comes to taking care of ourselves and our mental health. With a growing  demand to have honest conversations that might help destigmatize mental illness and support people struggling with it.

Honestly? Accepting that we have those negative emotions isn’t easy. For some people, it feels like somewhat of a defeat. It’s far from it. Not only does it take courage, it is also the first step towards feeling better with ourselves. Identifying how the changes in our routines and other aspects of isolation are affecting us can also lead to finding some relief.

Take care of your mental health daily. Photo Credit- Maddi Bazzocco-Unsplash

Take care of your mental health daily. Photo Credit- Maddi Bazzocco-Unsplash

Being Kind to Yourself

Accept that no one is at the top of their game. While it may feel like setting productivity bar high is the best way to keep us from stumbling into an emotional rut, in some cases the opposite might actually be true. It’s not about letting go, it’s about being less demanding and avoiding feelings of insufficiency.

Give yourself the chance to fall short of your own expectations without feeling terrible about it. You can even try to accept those days when normalcy feels impossible to achieve. You’re not alone, so consider asking for some time for yourself if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Whether that means taking the afternoon off of work and away from the computer or spending an hour in the tub with your favorite book or album.

There will be days where the best efforts and good intentions will just fall short. Embrace it as a fact of our new normal and when you stumble into one of those bad days, rather than hit your head against the wall, judge yourself harshly and ramp up the frustration, try to do something that you know will bring you joy.

Photo Credit- Finn NYC- Unsplash

Photo Credit- Finn NYC- Unsplash

Self-Care in Isolation

There is no one way to go about self-care. So you might have to try a couple of things if you’ve been feeling under the weather.

  • Practice mindfulness: For some, meditation has been key in dealing with anxiety in these uncertain times, but there are also other relaxation techniques that include breathing exercises, guided meditation, self-affirmation and progressive relaxation.
  • Stay active: Elle Woods said it best: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy”. Physical activity improves your mood and your health, it is also especially important when so much time is being spent indoors. Workout videos of all kinds, durations and intensity can be found online.
  • Get some fresh air: If you have a garden try to make good use of it. Spend time outside, maybe plant that vegetable garden you’ve been dreaming of forever. If not (and if it’s safe) try to take walks around the block while minding rules of social distancing.
  • Limit screen time and social media: All that onscreen time can backfire and affect us negatively. Impacting productivity, moods and even sleep in the long run. Set limits when it comes to screen time, try to unplug an hour before you go to sleep. Board games, puzzles and books are good ways to end your day and stay away from screens.
  • Stay informed but don’t overdo it: Spending your days glued to the news and social media won’t help either. Dedicate a portion of the day to catching up and then try to move on until the next day.
  • Live Healthily: A healthy diet seems to be one of the biggest challenges for some when the kitchen is always so close. Try to keep it healthy, giving yourself a cheat day or two to stay motivated.
A helathy lifestyle helps keep mental health in check. Photo Credit Brooke Lark-Unsplash

A helathy lifestyle helps keep mental health in check. Photo Credit Brooke Lark-Unsplash

Ask for Help — Your mental health is critical to your wellbeing

Consider virtual therapy. When anxiety, depression or self-doubt begin interfering with your daily life and work, it may be time to find a professional you can talk to. Mental health specialists belong in your corner, especially at times like these. They provide insight and expertise that’ll make it easier for you to deal with those negative feelings. You wouldn’t hesitate to enlist an orthopedist to treat a broken bone, would you?

Nowadays, the best professionals are available for virtual therapy and apps like Talkspace offer an affordable alternative to therapy if, like others, you’re facing financial challenges.

Mental Health America has created a toolkit to celebrate and educate during this year’s Mental Health Month. The 2020 Tools 2 Thrive kit includes handouts about owning feelings, finding the positive, toxic influences, healthy routines, supporting and connecting to others as well as work sheets and other material.

Remember: Your mental health is as important as your physical health. They go hand in hand. Don’t allow feelings of shame, inadequacy or doubt stop you from getting the help you need. We are all suffering the consequences of this isolation and if we are going to come out of it in good shape, we have to take care of whole selves.

Help Small Women-Owned Businesses Affected by COVID-19

It’s no secret that the pandemic has had an impact on businesses all over the world. Not surprisingly, small-business owners have found themselves in seriously unsteady waters, with female entrepreneurs being hit especially hard during these times of crisis. In moments like these, a little support can go a long way and it’s vital if we want to help small women-owned businesses affected by the pandemic survive.

In addition to threatening small businesses that could be forced to close permanently, the changes brought about as we adjust to our new “new normal” could also undo the progress made in the rise of female entrepreneurs. Especially since many of these female-led businesses are part of some of the most vulnerable industries, including the hospitality and beauty sectors.

Support local women-owned businesses. Photo Credit: Tim Mossholder- Unsplash

Support local women-owned businesses. Photo Credit: Tim Mossholder- Unsplash

COVID-19 and its Impact on Small Women-Owned Businesses

The past five years have seen a rise of 21% in the number of women-owned businesses, with companies owned by Black and Latinx women growing at an incredible rate. Unfortunately, these tend to be small businesses employing fewer than 500 staffers, many of which won’t make it out of the pandemic without at least a little help.

According to American Express, around 22% of all small women-owned businesses are included in the “other services” industries, comprised of companies like nail and hair salons and pet groomers. Female entrepreneurs also own 16% of the hospitality and food service industries.

On top of the ways in which coronavirus has made it impossible –or at least very difficult– for most small companies to stay up and running, female business owners often face banks and financial institutions that’ll deny their loans in order to favor pre-existing costumers. Laurie Fabiano, president of the Tory Burch Foundation, explains that women “tend to have less of a track record with banks” because they borrow less than men.

This isn’t very promising for entrepreneurs who had been having issues securing capital before all small business owners began to need it.

Women-owned businesses have been particularly impacted by the pandemic. They need our help to survive. Photo Credit: Brooke Lark- Unsplash

Women-owned businesses have been particularly impacted by the pandemic. They need our help to survive. Photo Credit: Brooke Lark- Unsplash

Information and Funding for Female Entrepreneurs

Many organizations have begun to find how to help small women-owned businesses affected by the pandemic. In addition to donations and funding, some have offered resources to help entrepreneurs stay informed as well as webinars to help them navigate different aspects of the COVID-19 crisis.

  • The Tory Burch Foundation supports the empowerment of women entrepreneurs, providing access to capital, entrepreneurial education, mentoring and networking opportunities. Their site is currently dedicated to information and guides for female entrepreneurs struggling with the effects of the pandemic. From applying to PPP funding and well-being tips to webinars helping small businesses stay alive.
  • Hello Alice works similarly, helping small businesses “get back to business” by providing e-learning guides, mentorship and immediate $10,000 grants to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Recipients will also continue to get support from the community, which offers tools and opportunities for specific businessowners.
  • The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation has showed its dedication to “elevating and supporting women through entrepreneurship” by teaming up with GlobalGiving to create The Red Backpack Fund. The fund will give $5,000 grants to female entrepreneurs in the United States who have been affected by the crisis.
  • The IFW COVID-19 Relief Fund will provide microgrants to women-owned businesses that have been impacted by this crisis. You’ll have to create a crowdfunding campaign through their website to be considered for a grant.
  • Ladies Who Launch has created a thorough guide that includes articles, information on grants and funds, websites on wellbeing and staying healthy, workplace tips, finance resources and different tools to help entrepreneurs work and manage their businesses from home until it’s time to get back to business.

    Photo Credit: Aw Creative Fl - Unsplash

    Photo Credit: Aw Creative Fl – Unsplash

Six Ways to Help Small Women-Owned Businesses

If you’re not a small business owner but you’re interested in how to help small women-owned businesses affected by the pandemic to stay afloat during these unprecedented times, there are some ways you can contribute without having to leave the safety of your home.

1Identify Small Women-Owned Businesses in Your Neighborhood: They could be closer than you think! There are directories available online and chances are that a little bit of research will lead you to at least a couple of women-owned businesses in your area. This is the perfect opportunity to buy their products. Many of them will probably deliver them to your door depending on what it is you’re looking for.

2Support your Female Friends Who Own Small Businesses: It’s always good to start helping those closest to you. So, before you expand your help, look around. Can you support your female friends, colleagues or relatives promote their business? This is a great time for care packages. How about surprising people in your network by sending them your friend’s products or services? We recently organized a “quarantine surprise campaign” with Christtine Organic, the small manufacturer of the best alfajores de dulce de leche you’ve ever tried.

3Find Small Businesses Online: A lot of small businesses and entrepreneurs will have a website, app or social media profile where you can contact them and buy their products or services. Some of them will only ship locally, but you may be surprised at how many will find you wherever you are (for an additional cost, most likely.) You can find anything, from clothes and art to food and drinks. Do a little digging, you might find something you’ll love and help someone who really needs it. Here’s the story of the founder of our partner Lola Ramona, the company that creates shoes with an attitude. 

4Support GoFund and Other Campaigns: Some small companies have created campaigns to raise money on platforms like GoFundMe, their Facebook profiles or their official websites. Through these, you can usually donate as much as you want directly to them and help them cover payroll and other important expenses. A lot of them will even tell you how they plan to spend your money.

5Invest in their Future: Some sites have started to offer gift cards to restaurants, cafes and bars around different cities. These gift cards will be exchangeable when business is resumed, helping these businesses stay afloat while they’re forced to keep their doors shut. Help Main Street!, Support Local, Rally for Restaurants and Give Local are some of the options out there.

6Don’t Forget to Share: The power of social media is great, so make sure you share and encourage others and show them how to help small women-owned businesses affected by the pandemic. Promote them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, give them positive reviews and recommend them to friends and family.

Think of surprising friends and colleagues by sending them something awesome from one of your female business owners. You'll help them spread the word and make someone's day a bit brighter. Photo of Christtine Organic Alfajores

Think of surprising friends and colleagues by sending them something awesome from one of your female business owners. You’ll help them spread the word and make someone’s day a bit brighter. Photo of Christtine Organic Alfajores

 Support Black Women-Owned Businesses

This is also an opportunity to show your support to the Black Lives Matter movement and the black community by investing in businesses owned by black women in the United States. According to the Washington Post, African American owned-businesses decreased by 40% as a result of COVID-19 and the government mandated shutdowns.

It won’t take long before you find a magical bookstore, delicious bakery, Etsy shop or whatever it is your heart desires.

Help however you can. It’s a great time to be there for each other and show some sisterly love.

Staying Creative During Challenging Times

Elaine Del Valle is a true renaissance woman. The award-winning writer, actor, director, casting director, producer and philanthropist has done a little bit of everything and spoke to us about staying creative during challenging times and what it took to get where she is.

Elaine realized early in the game that if she wanted to see real Latino stories out there, ones she could connect with, she would have to tell them herself. This realization has since led her down a prolific path where, it seems, she’s determined to create as much as she can.

Her one-woman-show “Brownsville Bred” received several awards even before an incredibly successful off-Broadway run in the summer of 2011. The stage play was later on adapted into a young adult novel called “Brownsville Bred: Dreaming Out Loud,” released in early 2020 and available most places where books are sold.

Del Valle’s work can be found all over the place, though. You can watch her movie “Me 3.769” on HBO, and some of her earlier work, like “Final Decision” and “Reasons Y I’m Single” are available through Amazon Prime. Elaine has allowed her personal beliefs to inspire and inform projects the world can connect with and has found  her voice in a simple but powerful concept: Stay True to Yourself.

We had a chat with the multitalented Latina and talked about her creative journey, the things she’s been reading, watching and listening to these days, and some tips and thoughts on staying creative during these challenging times.

Elaine del Valle Director in action

Elaine del Valle Director in action


From Actress to Renaissance Woman

Aline Cerdán – It seems like you’ve done a little bit of everything, can you tell us about how you got started on your creative journey?

Elaine Del Valle – I began my career as an actress. I studied acting for many years but found myself pigeon-holed as a commercial actress. While I was having some great success in the commercial and voice over markets, I felt like my craft was not being fully exercised outside of my professional scene study classes. I began writing material to present to class and ended up writing what would soon become an awarded, off-Broadway stage play.

“Brownsville Bred” was my true coming of age story and depicted my life as a Latina growing up in the crime capital of NY, Brownsville, Brooklyn. The play really changed my life and made me realize that if I want to see real Latino stories reflected in art, then I really had to be a part of creating them. The play also increased my visibility and allowed people to understand the real me – it also got me job offers in front of and behind the camera.

AC – Do you feel at home dabbling with it all professionally, or is there something that feels closer to your heart?

EDV – I love every aspect of creation, whether that be creating a character or weaving a cast of characters together for a project. That said, the most fulfilling role I have taken on is as a director. I love informing the story by way of camera angles and working with actors to achieve their best performances. I am able to speak to them in actor lingo and really get the performances I want.

Rosemary Rodriguez is another one of the few female directors in Hollywood!
Brownsville Bread by Elaine Del Valle

Brownsville Bread by Elaine Del Valle

To-Do Lists and Turning Hardship into Art

AC – What do you feel have been some of the hardest aspects of staying creative during challenging times?

EDV – When the quarantine first came, it didn’t really pose a big change in my life… for the most part. I am always at my computer writing, casting or producing. Knowing that the quarantine would be long I decided to make a very long “to do” list of things that I’d been putting off. I have long been using a “list” method to accomplish tasks. There’s something about crossing things off that list that makes me feel like I have achieved something.

My father died when I was a teenager and so I have never taken time for granted. I always want to make the most of my time…and that doesn’t have to mean being creative. Sometimes I work on just the business side of things. I work best when I am multi-tasking and plowing through a tough workload. I am a “by the seat of my pants” creative and so when I get creative, I dive deep and don’t come up for air until I am done. I wrote my play in three months, and I adapted my book in about the same time. I finished my first procedural drama in three days and wrote my first film in an airplane ride.

I don’t put pressure on myself to stay creative because I find inspiration everywhere. Also, I pride myself on having put in the work to develop my various crafts, which  allows me to turn to craft when I am feeling outside of my creative zone.

Want to unleash your creativity? Say yes to change!
Elaine del Valle Director teaches us about staying creative in challenging times

Elaine del Valle Director teaches us about staying creative in challenging times

Staying Creative During Challenging Times

AC – You’ve turned a tough childhood into a novel and a play, can you tell us about the creative process when the material you are using is autobiographical?

EDV – It’s wonderful to lean into the facts and honest examination of the people you know and love. It has been my ultimate joy to represent my loved ones in a way that makes others come to love them, regardless of their flaws. I began my writing by depicting my milestones. Every individual has milestones and those are the things that truly shape us. I have found that people from all backgrounds can somehow all relate to milestones universally.

My process for writing the play came easily because at the time that I wrote it, I was immersed in professional scene study classes at Carnegie Hall under the tutelage of the legendary Wynn Handman. I understood scenes and what made them powerful. I had fertile ground at Wynn Handman Studios and a safety net of trusted and respected actors that made me feel safe. I owe lots to my class and my teacher.

The book was something I had to learn to write. I immersed myself in YA (Young Adult) novels and would circle moments that made me laugh and cry and wonder. I devoured books and it got me into a mode that I was also able to dive into. I adapt easily and pivot to use all of my talents and crafts in whatever I am working on. I also studied through Sundance Collab where I practiced ways of free writing to bring the material beyond where I’d first imagined, and to trust my instincts.

AC – Do you think that the challenging times we’re currently going through could actually become a source of creativity?

EDV – Necessity is the mother of invention and I think we are currently witnessing many creatives working together, and apart, outside of their comfort zones to continue to deliver entertainment. Artists must create. It is a deep need inside of them. An art teacher once asked, “Why do we paint?” the answer was “to prove we exist!” That is a deep need behind the work, and nothing can stifle that desire.

My advice to anyone who is not feeling creative is to go out and learn something new. Read a book. Read many books, take on-line classes. Participate in the webinars and creative livestreams that are keeping raw art and learning still available to anyone who wants it.

AC – What do you think is the role of the arts and the importance of staying creative during challenging times?

EDV – Art always reflects life and the role of art will emerge from the artists creating it and the audiences taking it in. It always has and it always will. We reflect and we create, then we reflect on what we have created, and we evolve. People ask me how I choose what I work on next. Is there a foolproof recipe to getting a film sold or hot on the festival circuit? I always answer that the only person who has to really and truly like it is the artists themselves, because it is surely their passion that will bring it to the finish line and nothing else should matter than being true to yourself. The more specific a story, the more universal its reach.

I always create based on my core beliefs. In “Brownsville Bred”, both the play and the novel, my belief was that if you knew them, then you too would have loved my father and mother and even found value in living in a place like Brownsville. That hope and how you can’t judge a person’s worth based on economics exists everywhere.

“Final Decision” (Amazon Prime) is based on my belief that when our loved ones die, they are still with us, guiding us. “Me 3.769” (HBO) on my belief that females will and are overcoming their fears for the sake of helping the future generation and that there is deep power in “telling secrets” that you never wanted to. In “Princess Cut”, my latest project, my belief is that we all can find common ground. And how many can and do get away with their indiscretions because of money.

Work from your core belief and the work will hit home to many, even those you never imagined you’d have things in common with.

Passion by Ian Schneider- Unsplash

Passion- Photo Credit: Ian Schneider- Unsplash

Immerse yourself completely— One great way of staying creative in challenging times

AC – Do you have any tips for people who would like to express themselves creatively to get started during isolation?

EDV – A tip is to find a random photo and write a story about that photo as it relates to your childhood. Everyone can do it and every story will be interesting and different and yet they will all derive from the same source of inspiration.

Another thing I practice is to not put a deadline on the quarantine. Know that you will endure it, no matter how long it takes, and be ready to face the truth of it. A deadline is a sure way to lose hope.

I also recommend that whatever you want to create, you should immerse yourself in. If you want to write a memoir then you should read memoirs. If you want to write a screenplay then read books on writing screenplays and then read screenplays. If you want to write poetry, then immerse yourself in poetry. If you immerse yourself in art, then you will become it. My teacher, Wynn Handman, used to say, “Marinate in it”. If you marinate long enough then the you can’t help but be flavored and juiced by it.

Also, if you feel stuck then stop the creative and move to the other necessary parts of how you will get your creation out once it is complete. You can learn so much about anything by just going online. If you want to perform a play, then you will also have to sell tickets to that play or submit it into festivals. That’s how one can stay active in the growth of your vision rather than allowing it to wilt during creative dry spells.

AC – What are some of the books, movies, albums and TV shows that have inspired you to stay creative in times of isolation?

EDV – Features: I love to watch documentaries on any subject. Anything on HBO is usually phenomenal. As for movies I really love to examine story and cinematography when I am watching films,  so I use them as a learning tool every time.

TV shows: I love “Ozark” and “This Is Us”, which always makes me cry. There are few shows that I can get lost in but those two always make me forget about my craft and just involve me in the story.

Music: My Pandora stations go from Marc Anthony to Garth Brooks to Adele, passing through Ed Sheeran, Elton John and 70’s & 80’s stations. I also love 80’s and 90s rap.

I listen to music when I am writing; music makes me feel and I think those feelings end up in my writing. I practically wrote the entire “Brownsville Bred” play while listening to salsa music.

Books: I have to say I enjoy YA more than any other genre. I love Gayle Forman and Gary Soto.

You can connect with Elaine Del Valle via LinkedIn

What will we and the world be like when this is over?

Gustavo Carvajal is the #IDEAcatalyst, an open-hearted and open-minded thinker with a passion for dreaming ideas and sharing them with a world that he wants to improve and make more flexible. Today he tells us what we will be like when this is over.

Gustavo Carvajal Red Shoe Leader Award

Gustavo Carvajal- Winner of 2019 Red Shoe Leader Award

Gustavo Carvajal, one of the winners of the Red Shoe Leader Award 2019, and the creative mind behind some of our most successful communication campaigns, is a coolhunter and anti-marketer born in Bogotá who has resided in New York for many years. From the Big Apple, he shares his unique, fresh, and multicultural perspective through #IdeaTherapy consulting sessions.

Briefly: this is his story. The #IDEAcatalyst shares his passion for ideas through #IdeaTherapy: creative consulting sessions for marketing and communication. Gustavo has contributed his qualitative experience in advertising agencies, thus promoting his Coolhunting platform. He specializes in marketing and communications for lifestyle and social causes.

Before settling in New York, he worked in the film and television industries. He was part of the international marketing teams at Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) and Disney. Gustavo is the International Cultural Ambassador of the Patronage Ruta de la Amistad – World Monuments Watch 2012.

Lover of dynamic ideas, Gustavo believes in the importance of being empathetic in the ways in which we communicate with each other, especially in a world that feels vulnerable as a result of the new normal. We are, the IDEACatalyst says, in an era where emotional intelligence needs the effective use of our “EQ” (emotional quotient) for necessary societal changes to take place.

We spoke with Gustavo about the way the world is changing, the repercussion of these changes on each one of us and how things will be when this is over.

We have to work together to create a better future. An inspirational quote by Gustavo Carvajal #IDEAcatalyst

We have to work together to create a better future. An inspirational quote by Gustavo Carvajal #IDEAcatalyst

Anti-Marketing: An Important Tool for When This Is Over

Aline Cerdán – Please tell us about anti-marketing? What is it and how does it work?

Gustavo Carvajal –Innovating, frequently means to step out of our ‘comfort zone’, which affects costs, production processes and interaction dynamics. It also requires an open-minded leadership and causes an increased risk for the operation.

Today, forced confinement has promoted introspection as a vehicle to search for trails leading to the light at the end of the tunnel. This healthy exercise is not frequently applied within work teams, even less so at the level of companies and their ecosystems.

The starting point of anti-marketing must be at least a certain ignorance about the new product or service. This way, the team can discover it as a consumer as well as define the type of communication matrix that is most appropriate for launch or sustainability campaigns.

Part of the creativity must be applied to the renewal of marketing strategies, so that communication about products and services is not just aesthetic ‘noise’. Anti-marketing can definitely stimulate a jump-start and the visualization of how we are going to position ourselves within the ‘new normal’ world that is already happening.

AC – How do you think life will be transformed as a result of the restrictions brought by the global pandemic? How will things be when this is over?

GC–We will live at a distance. With events that will be impossible to attend physically, but that we will be attend virtually. There probably won’t be a shortage of virtual therapy sessions when someone discovers that they’ve been left out of a Zoom party. People won’t be able to claim that the invitation was lost in the mail and an entire digital etiquette manual will be built on the fly, just as new pathologies will be added to the catalog. Instead of “spiritual” retreats, more and more digital detoxes will have to be made available.

At the other end of the equation, there will be classes to rescue the art of interacting in real-time with family, friends, colleagues, and strangers. We’ll all have to learn to ‘digest’ losses, where the feelings of mourning will be even more intimate, since the absence of social rituals will not allow us to face them as a group. There is a risk of becoming colder in difficult situations, but hopefully not indolent.

Creativity will rescue us when this is over- Photo Credit- Sharon Mccutcheon-Unsplash

Creativity will rescue us when this is over- Photo Credit- Sharon Mccutcheon-Unsplash

When This is Over: No More Business as Usual

AC– What is “GloCal” and what part will it play in our lives when this is over? How do you think we’re already being redefined by this concept?

GC – The social distancing that’s bound to continue and the more widespread adoption of home office setting will lead to the impracticality of the use of mass transit services. This will determine the existence of demographic groups that won’t be able to leave their communities, in addition to the highly vulnerable groups and the most cautious sectors that will not be able to travel.

I have always known that the more ‘local’ you are, the more ‘global’ you can resonate. This applies to both rural and urban settings. This concept is a tool that we could use with our friends and neighbors to be more aware of the resources at hand.

Today, great talent inserted in the community can find possibilities of expression in existing organizations or new groups so that unsuspected collaborations can blossom at a global level. This will be new support networks that create community and at the same time interact with the networks that each member currently has.

When this is over- Photo Credit- Annie Spratt-Unsplash

When this is over- Photo Credit- Annie Spratt-Unsplash

Entertainment and Our “New Essentials”

AC – How will new essentials be defined? How will consumption change when this is over?

GC – Lifestyles are evolving rapidly. In the recent past, the fascination with a brand was based on the wide variety it offered. The “New Normal”, as the prevailing reality, can mark the return to a more generic product, both due to the production capacity, price, availability of supplies and the desire to buy local to rebuild communities.

During their quarantine, a revealing number of consumers have discovered a series of expenditures that were inserted into their daily agenda in a mechanical way, like a routine. This circumstance opens the opportunity to discover ourselves beyond being “Objects for Consumption” and to review how we invest our time and resources. Our real choices.

With more people telecommuting, it will be vital to find more pioneers and promoters who are focused on promoting stores and small business. Individuals integrated into the neighborhood for consumers to explore in more intimate and controlled spaces. This format would refute the ‘Destination Store’ that has been promoted so aggressively and which we have repeatedly turned to. This moment is an opportunity to adjust our “essentials”.

AC – How do you feel areas like entertainment and tourism will be transformed when this is over?   

GC – Currently multiple platforms have been delivering content for free. But behind each piece of content there are creators. When it comes to culture, it’s important to stop to think that the talent behind the creations has also been impacted by this. The operating models of companies and organizations must include this factor even more when planning for various future scenarios.

The availability of tons of content promoted to “kill time” does not help the solution. This is all the more paradoxical when audiences, now truly captive, discover that many of the content forms are not designed to be consumed in‘ loop ’24/7.

Media overstimulation requires periods of silence. It is imperative that we all learn to spend more time with ourselves. As a personal opportunity for reflection and human recharge.

Likewise, there are examples of active citizens who provide well-being to communities that come together around particular interests. This is the case of a young Iberian poet who just in March was scheduled to launch her book in South America. For obvious reasons, this was postponed. However, in conversations with friends, they came up with a very poetic solution … #PoesiaEnTuSofa (#PoetryFromYourCouch) via Instagram.

In the end, we have all been affected in one way or another by this global circumstance. Perhaps the way to face vulnerability is through the force of hope and the multiple manifestations it has…in my case, in the form of poetry that emerges in the spring.

Ideas for when this is over

Ideas for when this is over

Imagination to the Rescue!

AC – You believe creativity will be the basis of productivity, can you elaborate a little?

GC – The average marketing professional has had a “One-Size-Fits-All” approach when it comes to providing answers to consumers. Over time, we have found that this approach is too limiting.

In a way, we have to understand that we are all creative and that we can make creativity intrinsic to everyday moments. It would be beneficial if we understood the creative process as an integral part of productivity and not exclusively as a playful exercise.

We can only build a “new future” if we have an “out-of-the-past” attitude to be part of the solution, we all have to put our hearts, minds and hands to work. Feel, think and DO.

AC – How can we go from reactive to proactive?

GC – Although such an unexpected circumstance initially implies a natural attitude of reaction, we as a community must have an aptitude for action. It is a call to use the sense of ingenuity for community well-being and thus build ties, lasting bonds that design and forge the future.

It is time to take advantage of flexible, future-oriented thinking – with the ability to adjust the sails to the wind, to challenges – and exercising a leadership which includes empathy. It is a time to experiment solutions and get “modest big” common achievements.

In the end, all of us have simultaneously learned during these weeks to live without some things that we previously considered absolutely essential. It is time to focus on the “On/Off” interaction with our surrounding environment. And above all, it’s time for a much-needed personal, family, community, and business introspection. So, as a group, we can make life a little bit better.

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Apps to Stay Afloat While Working from Home

There is no shame in admitting it: We all need a little help right now. Even the most weathered of home-officers are finding it difficult to stay focused with all that’s going on. So, here are some apps to stay afloat while working from home with your family there

Keeping a stable work schedule can help you achieve some normalcy and stay on top of things while you try to navigate these #IStayAtHome times. Change into comfy work clothes at the beginning of your workday and make sure everyone respects the hours you assign as “office time”. And be sure to respect your partner’s office hours if you’re splitting responsibilities. Apps will help you stay sane, but you’ll have to stick to the plan in order for the ship to run smoothly. (And here are 10 things you can do to stay sane!)

Apps to stay afloat while working at home can make a big difference. Photo Credit- Emma Matthews. Unsplash

Apps to stay afloat while working at home can make a big difference. Photo Credit- Emma Matthews. Unsplash

Create a Quiet Place for Yourself

First thing’s first. Assign a workspace. It’ll help you get “in the zone” and (hopefully) it will make it easier to draw boundaries with your children and partner. Try to keep in mind that kids wander into rooms with shut doors so don’t stress too much about it if it happens.  What matters is for you to have a space that can help you “leave” – or the closest thing to it.

Move things around a bit. If you’re not sure of what to do, you can apply for a free session with designer and Feng Shui expert, Kelly Robinson. Among other things, Robinson will help you make simple changes that will significantly improve your mood and support productivity. Pinterest is another good place to find practical ideas to work with what you’ve got. A nice corner of your own will make you more motivated to get to work.

Administer Your Time

To Do Reminder is an app to set up simple reminders you can create with a speech-to-text option. With so much on your mind, the additional help will make it easier to remember everything to do while trying to manage the different challenges of working from home with your family. Remember the Milk is similar, and allows you to prioritize tasks, which will be important to keep you afloat.

Apps like Swipetimes can help you keep track of your projects, progress and the time you put into it. You can also set alarms to remind you of when to take a break or stop working. It has a punch-in and out tracking feature and can be synchronized with your Google calendar to make sure you stay up to date with deadlines and projects.

Apps like Tick Tick are more thorough, letting you set up a full schedule and use timers that boost your efficiency. If you want something simpler, you can use Marinara Timer, which is free and allows you to either customize your timer (and add team members) or use the Pomodoro method, which times 25-minute work blocks followed by 5-minute breaks.

There are apps that can help you block social media sites you visit often. Photo Credit. Though Catalog. Unsplash

There are apps that can help you block social media sites you visit often. Photo Credit. Though Catalog. Unsplash

Stay Productive

The truth is that at times like these, staying focused and productive can be a battle while working from home. Luckily, technology can help you deal with this too.

1Focus lets you make a list of sites you usually waste time on and then blocks them for you for your chosen duration (Simple Blocker works similarly). This means you won’t be able to wander over to Facebook, Instagram or whatever else is distracting you while you’re supposed to be working. Focuster is a little more ambitious and helps you regain your concentration (which takes about half an hour after being lost) through schedules, to-do lists and goals that help you be extra productive during office hours.

Don't miss my 8 Ideas to Make the Most out of Working from Home!

Manage Teams Successfully

When it comes to apps to stay afloat while working from home, anything that can help with teamwork is key. At a time when you are not spending any face-to-face time with your team, it’s super critical to have an effective way to connect and collaborate. So, if your company hasn’t set up a platform yet, or if you are an entrepreneur, consider the following options:

Microsoft Teams, for example, is a comprehensive, intuitive, simple to use solution with a great free version.

Trello allows a collaborative experience even while working remotely and lets you all keep everyone’s responsibilities organized. Similarly, Asana makes it easy to stay organized and meet team deadlines while everyone works from home.

You can also use apps like Doodle to schedule meetings when they work best for everyone on the team, something that everyone will appreciate.

Stay in touch with your colleagues throughout your workdays. It helps with a feeling of normalcy and provide some much-needed socializing while interactions are limited. Skype allows multiple users to join on video and voice chats, with options for screen sharing. In its free plan Zoom lets up to 100 users join video conferences with options to record, share and even broadcast for 40 minutes.

Identify apps to keep you afloat while working from home by timing your tasks and the breaks you take. Photo Credit- Djurdjica Boskovic- Unsplash

Identify apps to keep you afloat while working from home by timing your tasks and the breaks you take. Photo Credit- Djurdjica Boskovic- Unsplash

Other Useful Apps to Stay Afloat While Working from Home

There are other apps that you probably already now, things like Dropbox and Google Docs to share documents among teammates, WeTransfer and Terashare for large file sharing and Evernote, which will help you take notes in different formats and prioritize ideas.

This is only a selection of some of the most popular apps keeping all of us afloat while working from home.  Which ones are you using? What’s working for you? Please share in the comments!