Retired Air Force Col. and former astronaut Greg Johnson knows a thing or two about isolation.
During Johnson’s 15-year career as a NASA astronaut, he spent more than 31 days in space, according to his NASA bio. Now, Johnson is sharing some ways in a video posted by NATO to manage the lack of human interaction amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
First, he suggests establishing a routine to maximize productivity and also to facilitate down time.
“I recommend creating a distraction-free work zone so that you can be efficient when it’s time to work and then focus on fun when it’s time to do those things,” Johnson said in the video.
Additionally, he advised staying mindful of the people surrounding you — citing an experience from space where he and few other crew members had a “makeshift” rock band and were unaware they were disturbing other members during their practice.
“Some other guys were doing work and we actually were distracting them,” Johnson said. “We were not paying attention.”
Lastly, Johnson advises remaining positive and working together as a team through these challenging times.
“We are all in this together. This pandemic is a great example of how we’re all interconnected on this planet, on this space ship Earth,” Johnson said. “So it’s really important for us to stick together to get through this, to follow the rules, to take care of each other and take care of our planet.”
After graduating from the Air Force Academy in 1984, Johnson became an F-15E Eagle pilot and flew in more than 30 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm during a deployment to Al Kharj, Saudi Arabia in 1990. Two years later during another deployment to Saudi Arabia he flew 27 missions in support of Operation Southern Watch.
He eventually was assigned to the 445th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base in California. In total, he completed more than 5,000 flight hours in 50 different aircraft during his service in the Air Force.
In 1998, he started astronaut training with NASA. He was the pilot for both the STS-123 and STS-134 space shuttle flights in 2008 and 2010, both of which lasted more than 15 days in space, and completed 248 and 250 orbits of Earth.
Johnson retired from the Air Force in 2009, and left NASA in 2013.