Updated: May 14, 2020
For most North Americans, a few days after my last post, COVID-19 went from something in the news to something very real indeed. By Monday March 16, like most people on the planet, I was scrambling to find a new version of "normal"—one that involved more screen time and more online work than ever before.
While I definitely do NOT believe that our work hours or economy should necessarily be our top priority right now, the fact remains that many of us simply have no choice: we have to find ways to keep calm and carry on if we want to make it through this.
First: A deep breath and thoughts of gratitude. I know I am so fortunate to be working at all, let alone from home/online instead of on the front lines of this crisis.
Second: Pick your battles quickly and decisively, then completely disregard everything else you can with zero guilt or regret. Cut yourself (and others) some massive slack and be sure to Care for your Coronavirus Anxiety; this special project by Shine is a completely free compendium of meditations, activities, mantras, and many more resources, organized in a clean and simple format that I especially appreciate right now.
Remember, "You are not working from home; you are at your home, during a crisis, trying to work." I've read that quote so many times over the past eight weeks, and I love the distinction. What's vital? Focus on doing it. What's not? Drop that entirely for now.
Despite the myriad ads and articles coming my way with opportunities to learn new skills, cook new dishes, try new workouts, enjoy new ways to pass the time—I must confess I don't know a single person in any such boat. (Side note: Does anyone? Does anyone actually know the intended target of these things? Someone with no work, no kids, no one to help or visit or worry about, no all-consuming stress about what's coming next?) For me and everyone else I know, it's more like, "What's the one thing I absolutely have to accomplish today?" And if I get that done, I consider it an amazingly productive day, full stop.
Finally, when it comes to doing that one all-important task, here is a great list of tips for staying focused, in addition to the ones I wrote about in my last post. These tips were written to help those studying for massive open online courses (MOOCs), but they apply to virtually any digital task and I come back to them often.
Our goal is a happy and healthy life; work is simply one tool that helps us achieve that. What can you do to help make your work (whatever that looks like) doable, bearable, possible right now?
Stay safe, stay home, and be kind to one another—we can do this. (Artwork below by Charlie Mackesy)