This last few weeks as been an uncertain time of unprecedented anxiety for a lot of people. No toilet paper. No hand sanitizer. A constant drip-feed of fear mongering news reports and media content. You know the stuff, you're in it, too.
I'm finishing up four more days of hard-core mandatory quarantine, after a possible exposure to COVID-19 at a conference I attended, just before the powers that be started shutting down such things. I was not there the day the infected individual attended, but the local authorities and regulatory bodies in question decided that all attendees of the Pacific Dental Conference (15,000 of us) quarantine for 14 days. Non-negotiable.
As a voice over talent, I was excited for the conference, and to introduce my phone system voice overs and business voicemail greetings to the dentists and and other small business owners there. I had my website polished up. I had new marketing material. As a dental hygienist, I was looking forward to reconnecting with old coworkers and friends. But when I got there, it was get in, get out. It had a different vibe this year, although the 45min lineup to the Colgate or Crest booth to get the 1 free tube of toothpaste was a tradition I saw people continue to indulge in.
Fast forward to March 16, Provincial Health Officer Dr, Bonnie Henry issued a statement that all dental professionals attending the conference on any day were to quarantine immediately. So here we are. My office where I work part time is closed for an unknown period of time, and I find myself laid off. I've been laid off from dental jobs before. But this time, I don't have the panic seeping in that I would have had and did have before starting my voice over business. I just have time. And a deliberate call to action to use that time to benefit and serve, and invest in my business' future, or not.
For the first several days, I am over the moon. I've trained for this self-isolation my whole life. All of these things are old hat: infection control, social distancing, midnight trips to the grocery store to avoid other humans. My normal lifestyle is now the new normal for the masses.
What to do? As a health professional, it is my job to do what I can to "flatten the curve" and avoid transmission. I do not go to work and therefore do not consume masks, gloves, surface disinfectant etc that is needed by frontline providers.
As a voice over professional? This time is a gift, and time is the greatest treasure we have. Don't waste it. I looked around me to see what others in the VO community are doing to serve others and stave off the cabin fever. This is what I see in the VO Community, and what I've been doing, myself:
People are using the time to extend a hand to their networks. Marc Scott recently did a great podcast on this on his Everyday VOpreneur Podcast, urging us to avoid fearing that we'll be perceived as ambulance chasers and to go ahead and reach out to our clients to let them know we are here for them in a time when they may well need us more than ever. They need to know we're available and we've got their backs. I really needed this. I did feel like it would be predatory to reach out to clients, but when I did, every one of them was grateful for it. (Please say a little prayer for Marc: he's mid-kitchen-renovation right now and has no functional kitchen, sometimes no power, and sometimes no internet.)
I've seen people volunteer reading to children online to soothe the cabin fever in the little ones, as well as streaming themselves reading stories for children on Facebook and Youtube. It seems to have been a trend started by one gentleman VO, whose name and trendy hashtag escapes me. If anyone knows him (and I know you do), please let me know so I can backlink to him. From what I gather,he extroverts are really struggling with the social isolation of quarantine and the reading parties sound delightful. If you're looking for volunteer opportunities, Learning Ally helps empower special needs children succeed in school via providing narrated learning material for them. They're always looking for volunteers and a great place to give back.
Double-Down The Hustle
I've been using the time to update my website and marketing materials, catch up on online learning resources I've subscribed to or purchased, and then did not find time for (or make time for, if I'm honest with myself). I've been learning about SEO and tweaking my website, and learning how to use Google Trends. I've been reviewing audio editing techniques in a course I bought forever ago from Tim Tippetts, called The Audition Ready Online Audio Course. It's very meaty. Visit Tim Tippetts at VO Tech Guru if you would like to learn how to do this yourself. His teaching style is very accessible.
The weather in the PNW/Southern British Columbia has been spectacular this week. I've been obeying the protocols of quarantine. I don't find it difficult, but I feel guilty if I am not "productive" so I've been making a point to get outside with my dogs and just soak it in, turn the electronics / social media / news off for a certain period of time every day, and be in nature.
Express gratitude. In everything. Even when you can't immediately see it for the storm, there's something to be grateful for. I'm so grateful that I have a means of producing an income while quarantined. I went into voice over because I wanted to work from home. It's certainly not a "get rich quick" thing, but every year, I've consistently earned more than the year before since I started. Every year, I gain some new clients. I'm so grateful to be healthy, to have a relatively robust immune system, and don't really live in fear that any one outing will be the outing that "gets me". I obey quarantine out of respect for the safety of others. I am grateful no one in my immediate circle or sphere of influence has been infected or hospitalized by the coronavirus. There are many more, but these are top of mind today.
A lot of you are going through some major stressors and hardships. Financial, health - I get it. I do. They haven't hit me yet, but they might. Who really knows?
But we can't live in fear of uncertainties we don't know and have minimal or no control over. Use this time to love your family. Use it to better yourself and your business. Read and learn something new. Hold your kids. Play some games and make some memories and hold fast to the hope that this too shall pass. Gratitude keeps things in perspective and draws us in to those whom we love, even when we can't be with them physically.
I hope you are all keeping well (inside and out) during these uncertain times. What are you doing to keep productive and keep from going crazy as we adjust to the 'new normal'? I'd love to hear it. Until next time!