In these unusual times, let’s try to zoom out from our daily struggles and find the benefits
These are times that we are compelled to avoid socialising face-to-face, a fundamental behaviour we have been doing since childhood, and stay at home. Everyone should dwell at his cave, with the nuclear family. That is definitely a drastic change for most of us, which brings many difficulties.
Like any transition, we can try to fight it or choose to accept the situation and mourn. Not much can be done to change things. Although we have zero influence on these restrictions, we can control our perception and adjustment.
As I try to find the benefits in any situation, here are a few insights from my individual perspective:
Admire what You Have — right here, right now
Although our natural tendency is to miss the absent and long for the things we can’t reach, focusing on the present is paramount. Be grateful for the present occurrences: we are surrounded by our loved ones, safe at our private shrines, and have time to be at home to complete the tasks that were procrastinated for months. This is an excellent opportunity to strikeout the tasks that were pending because “we don’t have time”.
When this pandemic is over, and you will be back on the rat race, you might be missing the time you were stuck at home but didn’t utilise time wisely. So, be with the family, endeavour to connect to yourself, or plan the next moves in your life.
Home-based Learning: knowing your kids better
Given the situation, my kids are studying at home; the school publishes assignments and reading materials, expecting our kids to comply and follow. At first, I thought it’s wonderful. My kids will be occupied studying so I can focus on work. Needless to say, it was wishful thinking. Expecting two kids in primary school to follow independently online tasks is hopeless.
My kids need guidance, setting structure, and face-to-face instructions; they need a teacher, and the only candidates for this role were my spouse and me.
The frustration was huge; how can I cope with the rest of the things I need to do?
When I hit rock bottom, I decided to stop trying to establish work-life balance in this situation; I decided to change my schedule and find pockets of time that allow me to work quietly.
After settling this conflict, I could openly embrace the bright sides of this situation; I got to know my kids better in so many aspects. I see their strengths, their learning patterns, identify where they struggle and need room for improvements; no teacher-parent meeting could have demonstrated this so vividly.
I was available to delve with them into their educational tasks, guide and train them, laugh with them, and enjoy being a student again; no other circumstances could allow that in the pre-corona world.
In spite of the difficulties, they seem to enjoy this attention and our time together too.
This is priceless, and for that I’m grateful.
Work from Home: executing in intervals
After making peace with Home-based learning, I had to handle the Home-based working. Well, the classic Work From Home concepts are irrelevant when having kids around that need my attention; I have a comfortable desk with an extra monitor, but I can’t find time and availability to focus.
I tried to find an equivalence to a typical day-at-the-office when tasks are popping on you, while you try to maneuver and prioritise. Well, it is different; although at home we are a team of two grownups, that’s not enough.
A family is not a task you can postpone or repel. Kids are needy and impatient by nature, the house chores will not evaporate away, and delegating them is not always an option. Like good teamwork, my spouse and I tried to offload tasks and share responsibility, albeit it is complicated.
Since interruptions are unavoidable, at least I’ll be systematic and do it by the book. It is an opportunity to practice the Pomodoro technique; allocating time to short and targeted tasks, should yield the desired outcomes and improve productivity. So far, it works well, and it decreases the stress level in the house.
The Pomodoro tactic is not a silver bullet. The key for sanity is matching the expectations. Finding adequate time for every task is essential, similar to working at the office ambience. Therefore, tasks that require concentration, like planning or crafting solutions for software design, I don’t dare to handle when the home’s activities are at their peak. Starting my day earlier and concentrate on resource-intensive tasks or postpone them to the late hours is a much better solution for me.
While trying to extract the good from this situation in such unpredictable times, being attentive to myself and my surroundings reveals the kind things under these circumstances.
Take care and stay safe; hopefully, we shall return to the rat race soon, but this time wiser.