On Thursday, together with my husband, we decided to socially distance ourselves as much as can be from everyone. To skip straight to the black humour, by Friday I was already feeling edgy. I’ve been here before; when I was (much) younger I suffered from severe depression…but I recovered.
With that in mind, this blog piece is all about how to stay sane, with a solid dose of Salesforce. This is your opportunity to upskill yourself and retain hugely important social contact and support that the Salesforce Ohana offers us.
My suggestions to get you going are around the themes of:
As Salesforce is a cloud based platform (you knew that, right?), there’s still plenty going on. It’s also genuinely important to maintain a sense of humour and silliness!
Do you have family or friends climbing the wall? Why not introduce them to Trailhead too. Also if you help train them, this is one of the best ways to learn yourself, because it forces you to think more deeply about the topics in hand. The beauty of this approach is that you can use free tools such as Google Meet to facilitate this, even if you aren’t based in the same room.
Last point on this topic, Trailhead is already gamified, but why not spice it up slightly by joining TopTrailblazers to give yourself some competitive incentive.
Join the Trailblazer Conversation
The Trailblazer Community and, if you’re a nonprofit, the Power of Us Hub. Join in the conversations, help answer questions or seek the expertise for those improvements that you’ve been wanting to make for ages, but have never quite had the time.
PluralSight have an extensive well-regarded Salesforce catalogue including short courses focused on specific topics (eg. Reporting or Flow Builder). They also have the Play by Play series focused on real life scenarios and discussion about how and why of the solution.
If you click this link you’ll also get a 30 day trial of the entire catalogue instead of the usual 7 days. Lastly, they have general technology topics which are absolutely relevant for Salesforce professionals (Business Analysis, Project Management, etc).
Other Non-Salesforce Platforms
There’s also non Salesforce platforms. Coursera has a mixture of free and paid-for courses from leading institutions, worldwide.
LinkedIn offers a range of courses and has a free one month course, but there’s many more.
What? There are still some happening?!
Even though many events in the Salesforce calendar have been postponed or cancelled, there are still some that will continue.
With all credit to SharinPix for keeping their event tracker up to date
Check these events out:
With evident foresight, Virtual Dreamin (an Ohana first) will span (at least) 24 hours and has been in the planning for months. Hopefully, they’ll be the opportunity to network and socialise too.
Date: 16th May
Virtual Training Academies
Date: 29th March
Virtual Trailblazer Community Groups
Many Trailblazer Community Groups are going virtual (including one close to my heart, the Amsterdam User Group). Check out your local group here, and for the moment you don’t need to worry about the parking charges or space on the bike rack 🙂
Salesforce Saturdays are also going virtual. You can find out your local Salesforce Saturday by visiting their main homepage, scrolling to the end, and having a click on the map.
Boston World Tour
Never been to Boston? You can now join the World Tour live.
Date: 2nd April (date provisional)
RAD Women Code
One to keep an eye on. RAD Women Code provides a supportive and collaborative environment for advanced women Salesforce admins to build upon their existing click-based administration skills and learn to program on the Force.com platform.
Subscribe to their newsletter to get informed when the June training round opens for registration or contact them to pay it forward and offer to help out so they can expand the program – there’s a link on their homepage.
This is a general point though… if you’re experienced there’s still plenty of ways to lend a hand, and share your expertise; after all, those offers have helped me and many others get to where we are today.
I’m sure that there’s plenty of apps out there to help with this (and add comments at the end) but there’s two Salesforce-specific places that spring to mind:
Ohana Slack is an online platform (with web, Android, iDevice and Windows apps) where people can go and have a zone to hang out and answer questions related to their specialty, and where when you need an answer to something you don’t know, you can easily find an expert to answer your question.
There also happens to be a channel called #whyadminsdrink to help set the tone. Currently 2600 members. Check it out and see if it’s for you.
The Brainiate Academy
The Brainiate Academy usually run Virtual Salesforce Saturday, but they’ve now upped their game and are running multiple free topic-specific sessions. Keep checking out their agenda page which is now constantly evolving.
Switch the Camera On
I want to stress how we all need human contact. With that in mind use virtual meeting platforms such as Google Meet, but the most important thing is to switch the camera on.
We understand a lot more by reading a person’s face than by listening to a voice. There’s a great short video by Stanford Business about this, and how you can make these meetings more meaningful and effective. Watch to the end as it highlights the need for inclusivity and “water cooler” moments; acknowledge that this situation is not normal and share pictures of your personal working spaces (etc) to lighten the tone. There are also a few tips on socialising here.
Create a Dedicated Workspace
Decide your structure for the working day and stick to it. A top tip is to create a dedicated workspace and ensure your ergonomics are the best that can be, otherwise your back will be reminding you about this for years to come! So, use a dedicated monitor, or raise your laptop and use a separate keyboard, to improve your posture.
Document Your Org
This one’s a curveball, but how about documenting your existing Salesforce implementation. No time like the present, and will save you and your employer so much pain in the future.
Elements.Cloud has a freemium pricing model and you can go a long long way before you need to pay a single cent/rupee/penny. It’s also the best documentation platform I’ve come across. See the AppAssessor review here, for an in-depth tour around their features.
Are there other projects that need thinking time, and that you’ve been putting off?
Keep Work/Life Boundaries
When the day is done, switch off those tools and mentally switch gear.
If it’s an option, go out for a walk/exercise and fresh air during the day while there’s plenty of sunlight. This is definitely inspired by living in Northern latitudes, so I go for a walk during the afternoon; if I leave the walk until the end of the working day, it will be dark!
Connect with nature, fresh air, and the various joints in your body! (credit: Sergey Erlikh MVP)
I love social media but use it sparingly otherwise you may be overwhelmed. The separation of work and home works both ways. Perhaps, check your favourite apps, then put your phone away for a few hours so you can concentrate without distraction or, frankly, negative messages. We’re not great at multitasking anyway.
Tied in with the above, watch some fun, silly stuff on TV or listen to comedy podcasts (ok, that’s a link to the BBC, but they have a huge back catalogue available around the world).
Remote Socialising Ideas
Remember to phone and webcam friends. Loneliness is also a killer. Reach out to those near and dear, or even those you’ve been too busy to get to know properly before now. You can do joint remote cooking, or whatever inspiration takes you.
Mental Health Toolbox
Last but not least, there are tools to help you with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. Incidence varies by country but in the US 6.7% suffer from depression at any one time. Too often we hide, fearing what other people might think when actually they’re undergoing similar challenges.
MoodGym is a free online tool to help you tackle this; it’s based in Australia and is clinically proven* with over 1 million users worldwide. *ok, it’s not going to help everyone, but it’s a start! Also consider trying mindfulness and meditation apps like Calm, even if for just 5 minutes a day, to help you restore your perspective.
Have some other ideas?
Either drop me a DM via @naturallypaul or post at the bottom here. For once, I’m not going to promise to reply to them all (in normal circumstances I do!), but I suspect I’ll write a followup article in a week or two.
Update as of May 2020: Click here for a handy crowd-sourced spreadsheet listing many forthcoming virtual Ohana events.
Credits: We can all (still) contribute something, even in these strange times. For instance, without the effort of many individuals, this piece would not have been possible. In particular: Bhavna and Manmohan Singh for running DecodeSFCertifications; David Giller for the Brianiate academy and other tips; Eli Kaufman and Justyna Krajewska for their proofreading and improvements; Jean Michel Mougeolle MVP for the infographic of events; Marie van Roekel for input and support; Meighan Brodkey MVP for Ohana Slack; Ron Robins MVP for the PluralSight extended trial; Sergey Erlikh MVP for helping me write this piece in such a short time.