7 Habits for Notaries to Help Fight the COVID-19 BluesBrenda Stone
Whether we are sheltering in place or continuing to work in our notary signing agent businesses, we must find ways to stay positive and ready to identify opportunities when they emerge. Having a negative outlook helps nothing.
Today, I’d like to share habits that I have learned from observing smart people who get things done and keep going toward their goals in life no matter what is happening around them.
Habit #1 – Limit Negative Intake – Ramp Up the Positive
Allow yourself no more than two articles on COVID-19 issues per day.
My personal habit is to look to see how many cases are being reported each day. However, it is not necessary for me to read every single COVID-19 story that is happening across the U.S. There are plenty of frightening articles to read right now and they are popular. At least three sad or negative stories are posted by my social media friends each day. Bad news is popular! And, the media knows that it sells. Right now, they are in full-swing trying to keep your eyes glued on their pages. Naturally, there will be a tremendous amount of negative information to read every single day. Here’s a great article that addresses this better than I can. “Don’t Go Down a Coronavirus Anxiety Spiral “ was published recently in Wired Magazine. From the article:
“Experts say overloading on information about events like the coronavirus outbreak can make you particularly anxious, especially if you’re stuck inside with little to do but keep scrolling on Twitter and Facebook.”
You’ll find several great tips to help you actively fight a feeling of being defeated, anxious, and overwhelmed. After the country comes back to life, you’ll need to continue to raise your shield of positive thinking and fight through even more bad news.
If you aren’t sure what to do with all that free time you are going to accumulate from not wasting your time reading five versions of the same anxiety-inducing article, read up on marketing and running a business. If that sounds like a snooze fest to your worry-weary brain, take a brisk walk each day (or several times each day) to help clear your mind and give you a sense of self-control and optimism. It works!
Habit #2 – Reduce Negative Thoughts and Speech Patterns
Once you begin to limit the negative impact of daily COVID-19 news, you might find it is easier to slow down negative thinking and self-victimizing discussions about our current situation.
Did you know that YOU listen to YOU more than you listen to anyone else? It’s true! You especially listen to negative insights that you have. We all have more negative insights currently, and we can’t let them take over.
If you are constantly thinking and talking about the huge number of negative things going on because of COVID-19, your mind won’t be programmed to look for opportunity when life begins to move toward better times. Be a good friend to yourself by limiting the time your personal Debbie Downer hijacks your internal narrative.
Show those negative and repeating thoughts who is boss! You control what you think and say. Don’t let YOU be the one making yourself feel victimized and defeated.
Stopping the negative thoughts and conversations will help you think clearer about things that are productive. If you feel you need to worry, limit the time you spend worrying to a certain time of day or find other ways to put fences around it.
Habit #3 – Look Outward.
I have good friends who show kindness to others who are less fortunate weekly, even when there’s not a pandemic outside the front door. But, being the semi-reclusive writing sort that I am, I excuse myself frequently from doing good for others by saying, “I wish I could, but I work at my job all day and write all evening.”
That’s not exactly the case right now. If nothing else, I have rescued an hour a day that I am not to fight traffic driving to and from my job in rush hour traffic. So, over the last two weeks, I have pushed myself to look outward and do a few things for others. It’s been good for me. I can say with 100% assurance that if you are feeling anxious and a little depressed about the current state of affairs, looking outward is a good start on feeling better. There are people who need help everywhere. Helping someone else is empowering and rewarding.
Here are ideas that are affordable or free: Make a meal and drop it off to someone, run errands for a person who has small children or try offering to walk a dog for a sick or elderly person.
I know that it feels weird to reach out to another person in your community and say, “Do you need me to go to the grocery store for you?”
So, try something easier like “I’m on the way to pick up ____ at ______. Can I pick up anything for you? I could just leave it at your door.”
It is quite enjoyable to know that you helped someone’s life be a tiny bit better that day.
If you don’t know anyone to help, call United Way or similar organizations to ask if there is local need for volunteers to do things that can be done safely and alone.
Finally, if someone offers to help you with a task, don’t be so quick to say no. Let that person help you, too! You’ll be allowing them to have a minute of feeling meaningful. Helping you could be the high point of their week!
Habit #4 – Plan One Small Project. (And, complete it.)
Your private world is full of projects that need to be done–at least mine is!
If you are anxious or depressed because of COVID-19, don’t set yourself up to fail by deciding to paint the entire house or embarking on some other big job.
Maybe you need to set up a new bookkeeping method for your notary business.
Or, perhaps you need to go through the kitchen junk drawer. If things need to be tidied up here and there, do small things to restore order.
Grab a notebook and list small projects that need to be done.
Once you complete a couple of those, you will feel like tackling the bigger ones. This habit truly will strengthen your sense of control over your life.
Habit #5 – Use MS Teams, Webex or Zoom to Connect with a Group of Other Notaries.
Many people who live alone rely on face-to-face interaction with coworkers and friends to maintain a circle of support. I personally have not spoken with another person face-to-face in over 10 days and before that, it was another 10 days. I’m doing fine with it, but I’m very self-contained and my personality doesn’t require much actual interaction with others. However, I often use Microsoft Team, Zoom and Webex to talk to friends and coworkers. I also use the Duo Video Call App (like Facetime for Android) to talk to my family. I enjoy using video-conferencing technology.
However, what I am going to tell you next really surprised me about myself.
One night last week, several notaries in my state who have become commissioned as online notaries jumped on a last minute Zoom call to share insights and discuss the good and bad of what we have learned about remote online notarization since we have started trying to put it into practice.
I wasn’t really in the mood for the call when 8:00 p.m. rolled around. I was tired. In fact, I was working on something at the time and said that I would just listen in. I realized about 15 minutes into our meeting I had to work at not talking too much! Being virtually “with” other notaries and learning from them was energizing.
I learned a great deal from others’ experiences as we chatted and got to know each other a little better. It was actually fun!
You don’t have to wait until someone comes up with the idea and invites you.
You can start a call of your own and ask others to join you. Zoom provides a free account and you can host 45 minute Zoom calls without paying a dime. I pay about $15/month for my Zoom account and it is surprisingly unlimited as far as participants and time is concerned.
Habit #6 – Banish the Old Dog & New Tricks Mentality.
I grew up hearing that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I almost believed it! But, then I became an old dog (or an old notary–the terms are sort of interchangeable, in my case)! I realized that I had to learn things I didn’t want to learn if I wanted to be part of the notary scene in 2030.
Here’s a new trick that I’ve learned that’s benefited me immensely. Find a younger notary to converse with whose outlook and skills may complement your “old notary” industry knowledge and wisdom. Identify younger notaries who are using digital marketing, social media, and other ways of getting their stories out to promote their businesses.
Open your mind, listen, and learn new things!
Younger people have fresh insight and can help you expand your marketing capabilities and encourage you to try things they are doing effortlessly.
If you are a younger notary and you want to make a business out of serving lawyers, title companies, signing services, and lenders, you will learn a great deal if you begin to identify older longtime notaries who are successful in business, knowledgeable about their laws and industry stakeholders’s needs, and really care about doing things right. Keep your eye on them and watch what they do.
Most of us long-timers are willing to help new notaries with questions who show they understand that being a notary is an honor, that we are public servants, and that all notarial acts are based on laws.
Habit #7 – Learn More New Tricks.
The “new tricks” that I would recommend learning or learning more about are those that will make you a stronger notary and business person. They are as follow:
Remote online notarization (RON). This is the obvious new trick we must all consider learning more about. RON is here to stay. Learn about it first through free sources. Start with the laws and rules in your state. Read all that your state’s notary public administrator has to say about it.
Websites that offer platforms usually have online videos or will be willing to share those with you. Ask questions of those companies. Once you decide to make the plunge, you should be a notary on a mission to learn how to manage the platform you choose as well as all laws you need to know.
Business Management Skills. One of the biggest challenges that notaries have when starting a business is keeping it profitable. Here are several free courses offered by the Small Business Administration that will help you have a better shot at becoming successful as a notary business owner.
Business Startup Courses. LinkedIN Learning has an abundance of courses on how to start a business. The good news is that you can probably get a free account for 2 weeks (if you have not already done a trial period on that site). Make use of that offer!
Who knows, you might even come up with new business ideas!
Digital Marketing Courses. These are plentiful on both LinkedIN Learning and Udemy. My favorite instructor on Udemy for anything, including Digital Marketing, is a young instructor named Phil Ebiner. I have watched at least six of Phil Ebiner’s Udemy courses on various skills. (I don’t know him and I do not receive any benefit from telling you about him or the Udemy platform.)
App (software) skills (my favorites) that will help you in business are listed below. Udemy and LinkedIN Learning both offer courses for these apps.
- MS Word or GoogleDocs for writing content you can use on your website or brochures.
- MS Excel or GoogleSheets for developing tables of fees and figuring your actual profit.
- MS Publisher or Adobe InDesign to create publications.
- MS Access or another database program to develop mailing lists, inventory, and many other types of organized information sets.
- GoogleForms for creating “contact us” website forms to collect information from those who are interested in your business.
- Quicken for financial management of your business.
Up next: I am diving into RON seriously over the next 10 days. I have a lot of book knowledge about RON, but it is time for me to jump in, get my hands dirty, and stop dabbling on the sidelines.
I will let you know my experiences and impressions, plus those of our notary colleagues.
Take good care of yourself!