Quarantine: Week Three

To be or not to be productive

Is anyone else starting to lose track of time? Have you forgotten what day it is? “Is today Sunday?” my daughter asked on Saturday. “One of my friends posted that everyday, everywhere, feels like Bergen County on Sunday.” True. She was referring the Blue Laws that keep most stores closed on Sundays in the corner of New Jersey we used to call home.

The first week of April marked week three working from home and sharing tight living quarters with my daughter. I continue to do both with the minimal amount of success needed to keep going. I’m picking my battles with my off-spring. I’ve let her get away with calling me Ding Dong (it’s better than some of the things she’s called me over the years); I’m putting up living with her rules (even though I still pay the rent here). Working from home poses the biggest challenge for me.

It may come from my original experience in working from home that first summer after my daughter was born. I was trying to balance work with 2am feedings and afternoon naps and found myself working a very inconsistent schedule, tackling projects at the oddest times.  Now I just lack the ability to set parameters and boundaries to work just during work hours. When I don’t have some place to go, I rarely get up and get my workout done before 8am like I used to do, so I’m breaking for a run at 3pm and then find myself motivated to accomplish a task at 9pm when my daughter has cued up a movie to watch. 

We managed to stick to our plan of staying quarantined for two weeks, venturing out only for an occasional walk or run or down to the building’s laundry room so we continued to have clean underwear. Two weeks after returning from New Jersey, we went went shopping again…cautiously. I find myself fearful of going outside. Of encountering others. In the current environment, even a city on lockdown can feel crowded. 

As we can now believe with some level of certainty that we didn’t bring anything back from our trip east,  I’m going home today.  I could have gone home on Sunday, but stayed  to spend my daughter’s 20th birthday with her yesterday. She will come up by us for the weekend and a quiet Easter celebration. I guess there’s more risk in being together than being apart, but we all need each other and our space too. There’s no good reason for anyone to be entirely alone. 

We’re doing the best we can in this moment. It’s not perfect. I haven’t used the time to get in the best shape of my life. I haven’t use the time to learn a new language, or accept any Goodreads challenge. I’ve averaged 9 hours sleep for the past 3 weeks (compared to 8 hours in the 3 weeks prior). So that’s something. I resist the urge to be influenced by all the advertisements, emails from every company and organization I’ve ever done business with, and posts from type-A connections, to be nothing but productive with my time right now.

“Know that you are not failing. Let go of all of the profoundly daft ideas you have about what you should be doing right now. Instead, focus intensely on your physical and psychological security,” explains Aisha S. Ahmad, assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto (Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure, The Chronicle of Higher Education).

Author, JK Rowling took to twitter last week, “If you’re a ‘life coach’ who’s on here implying people are losers if they aren’t learning a new skill/building a brand while on lockdown, maybe stop. People have challenges you know nothing about. Sometimes getting through something is more than enough.”

I am not one of those “life coaches.” I’m perfectly content with just doing what we need to do to get through this. If channeling your fears, anxiety, and extra time into productivity works best for you, by all means do it. If getting some extra sleep and pretending it’s just another Sunday in Bergen County is more your speed, go forward without guilt. 

Working from home is not without its challenges.

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