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The SEAL guide to thriving this quarantine

May 20, 2020

Turn your COVID-19 confirmation experience into routines that help you focus and be more productive. Here are some lessons I learned during my time in the Navy.

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The SEAL guide to thriving this quarantine
The SEAL guide to thriving this quarantine

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The United States Navy Naval, Air and Land Command (the Navy SEAL) often rely on a remarkable number of underwater vehicles to do their job. I am talking about specially converted nuclear submarines with advanced diving chambers as well as ready-to-fight classified mini-diving boats, also known as SDVs (or SEAL delivery vehicles).

I know a lot about these vehicles because two of the three trains I command were based on SDV. We SEALs spend an excessive amount of time on board marine submarines worldwide. But as “guests” of these submarines, we limit ourselves to a few small areas of these incredible ships.

Like all of us in our current quarantine, SEALs choose to submit to conditions that are limited by the common good. Our on-site shelter is limited to a few confined spaces. The lessons I learned there while spending up to 50 consecutive days with these submarines are invaluable. Let me share it with you so that you can get the most out of your quarantine time.

Lessons fall easily under the acronym REMOTE. I promise that if you do REMOTE, you will change your quarantine experience. You could even change your entire future as I did because the time I was limited to naval submarines led me to invent more than 40 fitness products, including the best-selling Perfect Pushup (for lizards) and Perfect Ab Carver (for ABS).

It also inspired me to write two books: Do not be stopped: the 8 essential measures to be successful in everything , and the Unstoppable teams: the 4 essential measures of a powerful leadership. Let me discuss the first and most important essential action with REMOTE so you can see what I mean.

R routine, routine, routine

Sailors know that first hand. Whether you live above or below water, routine is an absolute must. It makes sense, keeps you focused, and reminds you of recurring tasks that you can expect. Routine brings security to uncertain situations.

Life in a confined space at sea is of course very different from today’s quarantine life. I am kidnapped with my family of six (four teenagers), two farmers and a remarkably busy woman. Each of us has specific routines throughout the day. Having and knowing the routines of others creates the basis for prosperity. I want you to plan three routines:

  • Sleep, eat, exercise and work. The Navy calls this the POD or plan of the day and it is our daily Bible. From my days as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy to the SEALs, we always had a POD. The process of putting together just one POD (last night) with the family is extremely helpful so that everyone is on the same page the next day (not to mention that everyone thinks about it in advance). Here’s a real POD from a past Monday from my family. You will find that I use European military time (I find it easier and there is something for children to learn) and we have homework sections that rotate every day for each of the four children. We make general blocks of time because each child has a different school schedule (we have children in three different public schools) and we work with them to make sure they work on their own routines (which is itself the second routine).
    1. 0800-0900 breakfast
    2. 0900-1200 schoolwork
    3. 1200-1300 lunch / break
    4. 1300-1500 schoolwork / housekeeping
    5. 1500 – 1600 exercise
    6. 1600 – 1800 free time
    7. 1800-1930 Dinner / cleaning
    8. 1930-2130 Movies / Games / Reading
    9. Tasks:
      1. Dishes / dishwasher discharge ________
      2. Poop patrol _________
      3. Walking dogs __________
      4. Rubbish ___________
  • The second routine is Your own work schedule and specifically plan what you need to do in certain time blocks. I use 3×5 cards with my calendar to record to-do lists and meetings. The reason I use note cards is that they can’t distract me the moment I look at my phone or computer. I am often distracted as soon as I pick up my phone. I also find it satisfying to manually mark a task instead of doing it electronically, but that’s me. The point is to create your own work routine within the family routine and then share it with the family.
  • The last routine is his internal routine, or self-discipline that keeps you active every day, no matter what the world has in store for you. The internal routine is to stay on the right track. What I share with you may sound simple, but it is important to maintain all of these micro-habits that we normally have without quarantine. When he begins to relax his micro habits, give yourself “permission” to relax in other areas.

Your day after day

Here are some actions in the categories above that are particularly important to keep up:

  1. Sleep. Be consistent when you go to bed and wake up.
  2. Shower / shave / care. Do the same routine that you would normally do for work.
  3. Clothes. Wear the same clothing standard for your casual workdays as for work. This tells your family that you are in a working mood now. And get dressed when you’re ready for the day.
  4. Room. Rotate your work area. Keep your computer in the same place, but take a break if you need to read a report. Or be creative and find another place for yourself when you get back to your computer. You will be charged.

These three routines and related tasks will help you succeed while living close to your family. It will take some getting used to, but in no time you will find family members who appreciate the structure of their day, which makes them and you much more productive. Let me know how you are doing and stay up to date as I will share the remaining REMOTE lessons in the coming weeks.