It’s been a 5 weeks of working from home for me – I haven’t set foot in my office (or on campus for the one in-person class I was teaching) in all that time. It’s been 5 weeks since I last hung out with a friend in person. It’s been 5 weeks since I last took transit. These things that were just taken for granted as part of everyday life suddenly stopped and we have no idea when we will do them again.
Five weeks that seems like a year. They say time is an illusion – pandemic time, doubly so.With apologies to Douglas Adams
And just like time seems to run at the speed of molasses, so too does my brain. Case in point: I started writing this blog posting because I had so many things I wanted to say and now that I’m sitting at the keyboard, they have all escaped from my brain.
My molasses brain is also why I haven’t blogged in so long. When the pandemic hit I, as usual, had too many things on the go. Full-time job, teaching gigs, course development side projects. I’m extremely lucky that all of these things were things that I can do at home, but my brain seems to function so slowly that everything takes me eleventy billion times as long as it used to. Plus, using remote access to do all my work for my day job is exceedingly slow, which means everything takes even longer to accomplish than it used to . Connecting with my team requires more effort. Teaching that was supposed to be face-to-face had to be switched to online. And in the early days, policies and recommendations and guidelines were being updated so fast, that just keeping up with them required a lot of time and brain space. The onslaught of emails about how everyone was dealing with COVID-19 was overwhelming1. Daily briefings from various levels of government are also a new edition to my life2. And I need to take time for self-care and to connect with loved ones to keep my sanity. All of which translated to me just not being able to get things accomplished in the way I used to be able to.
So for the past month, my weekdays have been working my day job from home, taking a short break (often to go for a walk with Scott when he gets home from work), then work for several hours on some combination of teaching and side projects (with a short break for dinner and to ring cow bells on my balcony at 7 pm to cheer for healthcare workers, and another break around 9 or 10 pm to feed my sourdough starter3 ), eventually heading to bed around midnight or 1 am, when Watson starts loudly meowing at me that it’s time to go to sleep. Weekend days I let myself sleep in and then get up and work on my teaching and side projects for most of the day, usually with a break at some point to go for a walk or a run, or to bake something, or maybe a trip to Costco. So it’s been a lot of sitting at my desk in my home office – side note: I think it’s time I bought myself a proper office chair. The one I have I bought at a garage sale like a decade ago.
There’s been lots written on what one should do while living in quarantine/isolation/lockdown/sheltering-in-place. And I feel like for every thing I read, I then read the complete opposite. “10 Tips for Being Productive While Working from Home” will be followed by “Don’t Expect Yourself to Be Super Productive in the Midst of a Global Crisis!” “It’s Important to Stick to Your Routine” (get up at the same time you used to, get dressed and do your hair, keep the same office hours as before) will be followed by “What Was So Great About Your Old Routine, Anyway? Now Is The Time To Figure Out What You Really Want From Life!”
I’ve thought a lot about my routine. I think it’s important to have a routine, but the more I’ve thought about it, I’ve come to realize that I did not love some aspects of my routine in the old time-y days of the pre-pandemic. I used to get up at about 5:30 am, which gave me enough time to feed the cats/make my coffee/get ready for work and do my ~40 minute commute to start work at 8 am. I liked working from 8 to 4, as I could get home before 5 pm, which gave me lots of time in the evening to do things like go to the gym or do some marking/lecture writing or get to an early hockey game4. But I did not like getting up at 5:30 am. I’m a night owl and find it hard to go to bed before midnight, which meant I typically only got about 5 hours of sleep on weeknights, which is just not enough sleep. If I were to follow the advice of sticking to the same routine as when I went to work, I’d get up at 5:30 am after not getting enough sleep, feed the cats/make the coffee/get ready for work including putting on work clothes and do my hair and makeup, and I’d be able to start work at about 7 am… but why? Why wear work clothes when I can wear a t-shirt and yoga pants? Why do make-up? Why be sleep deprived just to start working at 7 am for no real reason?
So my routine now looks more something like this: sleep until 8 or 8:30 or 9 – whenever I feel like starting to work. Get up and feed the cats/make the coffee (unless it’s a week when Scott has to go into the office, in which case he’ll already have done that). Work in my fuzzy warm bathrobe. Around noon, put on my workout clothes for a virtual 30 minute yoga class run by my friend Cheryl5, then I’d shower and put on clothes (translation: t-shirt and yoga pants). Have some lunch (if I remembered to) while I start my work for the afternoon. And you know what, I like some aspects of this routine. I am actually getting 6-7 hours of sleep a night instead of 5, for example. I like moving my body in the middle of the day, to break up the 8 hours of sitting in a chair. Whenever the world gets back to a place where I can actually go into my office to work, I’ll have to give some thought to what I want my new routine to be.
- It probably doesn’t help that I work for one health organization (but with connections to two other health organizations as well) and three post-secondary institutions and I get updates from all 6 of those organizations, all of whom have a lot of things they need to deal with in relation to the pandemic. [↩]
- In truth, I stopped watching the federal ones weeks ago – I just read the highlights later – but I still watch the provincial ones unless I have a meeting scheduled at the same time – and even then I usually watch the video of it afterwards. [↩]
- Some evenings I’ve also had a break for Zoom drinks with friends. [↩]
- Side note: I miss my gym and hockey a lot. [↩]
- The yoga class was a new edition to my life last week. Prior to that, I would typically spend my lunch break going for a socially distanced walk or doing my at-home workout. [↩]