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Staying productive (and disciplined!) the time of Coronavirus

Updated: Jan 6, 2021

MBA graduate and expat Jie Gao talks about how to stay productive during Covid-19.

I started my new job 3 days before my company decided to close temporarily. Retail is one of the industries most affected by Covid-19 and as a result, I was furloughed in late March 2020.

It was challenging at the beginning of the quarantine. Firstly I was not sure if I would keep my job as I just joined the company. Secondly, my family are in China, and even though I experienced SARS when I was 15, the anxiety level is completely different being alone in a foreign country. Thirdly, there was limited work I can do or plan at home due to the newness of the job, so it left me with a huge amount of free time. With all of these uncertainties, I decided take on some studies, thinking it would at least provide me with more possibilities in case I lost my job.

To set-up achievable goals was the first thing I did.

  1. Read 2 professional books in economics and finance

  2. Study at least 5 online courses

  3. Workout at least 3 times per week.

I started with reading the book, Capital in the 21st Century and making hand-written notes. This really helped me to focus and learn effectively. I also enjoyed visualising my work. Starting with a book that interested me helped me to build a rhythm of study. Next, taking online courses made me feel like I was back doing my MBA studies, which I also enjoyed a lot. One thing lead to another and I developed my quarantine routine. I ended up with nearly 200 hours of online courses studied and 13 certificates, which include Six Sigma and Lean Production yellow belts from Munich University and Business Analytics from Wharton University. The other very important habit I built from March to May was doing HIIT workouts, it worked perfectly with my 8-9 hours of daily study. I started with a 12 minute workout and now I can do a full 50 minutes HIIT workout.

Improvement is my main motivation.

I believe self-discipline was crucial during my quarantine, and after exceeding my goals and seeing all the achievements I had, I feel more confident mentally and physically. Quarantine has definitely been a very special time for me to get to know myself better and build my strength.


Jie Gao

Warwick Business School MBA 2019

Luxury retail professional

Assistant Store Manager, Delvaux


More great, online courses to check out:

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