The first thing I noticed during the first few weeks of this Covid-19 situation is the sheer amount of work. I felt as if my workload had tripled and that my time to accomplish tasks had been halved. It was as if all the people that never worked from home all at once tried to show they were working and the tail effect of this was to pressure those of us with experience with working from home to do more.
I know how to work from home. I have been working from home on and off for many years. I knew how to get up from my chair and balance work with my life. Well, I thought I did. I have been struggling to get away from work. It’s there in the morning when I wake up, it calls me in the middle of the night (due to my global responsibilities), and it haunts me in the day as I feel like I am chasing it as opposed to working it.
In the virtual office, I am expected to know every answer to every detail. When I don’t have the answers, I feel like I am failing. The weight of failure is aligned with my passion and feeling of responsibility for the mission of my company. I am blessed to have a team of experienced professionals that not only understand the work they do with great expertise, but work together with precision, understanding and kindness for each other and for me. I am confident that no matter what I say to them, they are feeling the same pressures I do. Under all these high-pressure conditions, they have been steady and consistent. It has been one of the few things that has been consistent.
On a normal non-virus day, I would drive an hour to work. My hour was filled with phone calls. A few of my calls were a few minutes to check-in and simply say “hello” for the day. I don’t know how the virus took that away, but it did. I wake up and see the flood of messages and have this overwhelming sense that I have to respond immediately. An hour turns into three and three into the painful realization that I fell into a digital trap. The daily calls turned into something else. Maybe a text exchange or maybe nothing. These relationships were like psychological vitamins. I didn’t realize how critical a “one a day” exchange was until a few weeks of not having them.
At home, I have my family. They are all here, but over the past six weeks, they have been in the background similar to having the TV on. I hear them and interact with them to some extent, but it’s not enough. After the first few weeks of 24/7 madness, things started to slow down a little and I was trying to catch my breath and take my foot off the gas when it came to working. As much as I enjoy keeping up with my blog, which is only once a week, I have been inconsistent. The only thing I have been consistent with was getting into a chair, strapping myself in and becoming nothing more than head, eyes, brain, and fingers. I decided a few weeks ago that I would stop what I am thinking is some sort of complicated work madness. I started to take breaks and started walking. Ironically, when I was at work, I went to the gym 5 days a week. It is pretty amazing what happened here. The more I have thought through it, I realized that I was doing a lot of this myself with my own choices. However, there have been invisible echoes on my shoulder that have driven me in this direction.
I don’t know what the world will look like after this situation. Part of me believes that we will go back to our norms once we have enough time to forget. I also see the complexity here. If you think about how nature is creeping in and how the world’s air is cleaner and the realization that people can work away from the office successfully, there is a lot of opportunity here. Companies can save a lot of money and lower operational costs. We have a chance to heal the world to some extent. With that said, I am getting my information from here in my bubble. If you are looking for inspiration, I am thinking this is the “give a penny, take a penny” model. I am thinking I need more pennies than I have to give at this very moment.
It’s not all bad, my wife and I are really best friends and this situation has actually brought us even closer together. The only thing we argue about is her belief that I have run out of jokes, which is entirely false. Plus, even if that were true, they are still funny. She says “Not for 20 years.” I beg to differ. (Note: She did, in fact, laugh at this paragraph.)
If you have some thoughts and ideas on how to get on track, I’d like to hear them. I am guessing I am not the only one feeling like this. I know I am not alone, it just feels like I am on an island. I am fine with that, I am still looking to balance out the work stuff though. My hope is that we all learn and grow from this and do something positive for the world.
What do you think?