I Miss Work So Much Right Now
Compared to your normal workload, how much work are you doing in quarantine?
One thing I find fascinating about this unusual time is how it affects us all differently. Some people lost their jobs while others have more work to do. Some have more free time to get things done while others find capacity for work greatly reduced because they’re also responsible for childcare or homeschool.
While anyone who keeps a job now is counting their blessings, I think a lot about the parents whose jobs have ramped up at the same time their kids have come home. It’s an inverse relationship: work increases, time to work decreases.
I worry about how this will affect the progress women have made in the workplace; we know mothers carry more of the caretaking and housekeeping burden in normal times, and this exaggerates that systematic shortcoming and the challenges it causes. I’m seeing anecdotes in my Facebook feed from women who are concerned for their jobs because they can’t keep up their pre-pandemic pace with kids at home.
Compared to my normal workload, I’m producing at about 30%. Most of my work is still there, I just don’t have as much time to spend on it, even with a partner who’s doing his share. A lot of my days now are about playing with our kids, walking with them in the woods, making food and doing dishes and cleaning up crumbs. There is so much beauty in that time together, but no extra hours in the day for it.
Because I’m an optimist, I look for silver linings in this reduced work time, and there are a few. I prioritize ruthlessly; I have narrowed my to-do list down to two deliverables I want to complete, and that’s pretty much what I do during my focused work time. Shorter work days have made it easier mentally for me to say “no” to asks from others I don’t have time for.
But I miss my work. I really do. I get energy from building and strategizing and just generally moving forward, and on the days when I don’t feel satisfied with how much I accomplish, I struggle to stay positive.
I miss thinking—the exploring, scheming, dreaming, and writing.
What I crave most isn’t the doing of work, it’s the thinking. The exploring. The scheming. The writing. These activities don’t tend to earn money in the short run; they’re investments in my long-term earning capacity.
So when we first got launched into this new normal, I cut them out. And then I got depressed.
Writing is how I process, how I learn, how I make the next day better than the last. And during an unprecedented experience like this, I found I couldn’t focus on my money-making work until I’d spent a little time writing. I have to clear my brain of the clutter before I can see clearly.
So tell me: Where’s your workload compared to pre-quarantine, and how does that relate to the amount of time and energy you have now?
Leave a comment down below and tell us—what is working for you right now? What isn’t working? How are you dealing with the stay-at-home work orders around the world?
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY
I’ve given my three year old my laptop to reply to your incoming emails right now. My one-year old might also be chiming in. I’m having a hard time keeping them away from the keyboard. Don’t worry, I’ve invented a magical device that can also translate their thoughts and actions into words. As of Sunday, they are now responsible for my inbox. You can consider them my new personal assistant.
My friend has an almost-two-year old and she asked me “So when do I need to think about potty training?” Yeah, as though you needed anything else to consider in the pandemic. Well, I took a few minutes to brain dump everything I remembered about potty training in a quick dash Voxer message to her, all while doing dishes and cleaning up the boys’ room in our house. We both thought that these might be useful memos for you, especially if you happen to be in a similar situation. Consider this an unofficial, scrappy overview of Potty Training that will help you do a good enough job … for now.
Making sense of days that make no sense requires new patterns, habits, and routines. For me, trying to muddle through the cacophony of work and children and non-stop days at home is very, very challenging to my brain. So, to help, I’ve been building small rituals into the day to start to cue myself that yes, work is happening now, and yes, it’s a new day.
Founder, The Write Life
Alexis Grant is a media innovator who specializes in the business of content. She led the content division at The Penny Hoarder as Executive Vice President of Content. After joining the company as the third employee, she worked alongside the founder to scale, growing their audience to tens of millions of readers, developing their brand reputation as a leader in media, and building infrastructure to support 100+ employees.
In mid-2019, she exited the fast-growth startup to focus on her own projects, including The Write Life, a media brand she founded in 2013. She's now applying her superpowers around audience growth and monetization while giving herself the flexibility to raise young kids.