The Productivity Habit I’ve Spent Years Perfecting is Now Ruined Because of Covid-19
For years, I’ve always shared that I’ve had no issues with Work-Life Balance. But with Covid-19 making it a necessity for us all to work from home, I’ve discovered that not all of us will perceive this as a good thing.
“How do you find the time to work out after a day in the office?” is a question I’m asked often. Even back in the days of working in publishing, with its oft-unreasonable deadlines, I would be able to leave the office by 7pm so I could be at personal training by 8.
Have I ever pulled an all-nighter at work? Honestly, no. At least not in the “If you don’t work through the night, you’re going to get fired” way. The late hours I kept were usually due to networking events, readers events, client-dinners, etc. Sometimes, I’d leave my writing to the nights and weekends because creatively, I do better at those times.
It’s not humble-bragging but when I’m in the office, I find I get a lot done at a speed that’s faster than most people. Once I set my mind to something, it gets done. I manage my time by keeping meetings to no longer than an hour, I try not to have more than 3 meetings scheduled per day, and once I’m done with my lunch, I’m back at my desk.
Work Ends When I Step Out of the Office
So, work ends when I call it a day. And often, I find I end my day on a fulfilled, satisfying note. My time has been spent productively, I’ve invested 8 hours of my day doing something I love, and I get my work done without even having to bust my ass at trying to get to work on time.
I’m 100% once I step into the office and that’s why, when I’m done, I’m really done.
Of course, this isn’t to say I don’t bring work home or stop thinking about work during my downtime. But there is a CLEAR demarcation; an invisible line that reminds me that I’ve done what I have to do in the office, and everything else is a matter of choice.
Work From Home Experiment: Failed
While my teammates have all elected to work from home since two weeks ago, I’ve been going into the WeWork we’re located in. I’ve kept my distance from people, commuting only during off-peak hours, and washing my hands manically.
My routine demands it. The physical act of being inside a “work space”, psychologically motivates me to be more efficient, more effective. I have — previously on several occasions — tried to work from home and did not like it.
Many people have semi-celebrated this new “normal” and have said that after this, companies will question the need for an office. Friends have shared how much more productive they are at work and, how they seem to be more in control of their lives now that they no longer have to commute to and from the office.
So, I decided to try (once more) it today. I shall let my schedule explain itself:
WFH Is Not For All Of Us
While loads of articles abound about how putting in place some form of routine (e.g. get dressed for work even if you’re working from home) will help get you in the state of mind for work, I believe the biggest obstacle I face is the clear lack of boundaries.
I don’t have the luxury of space in my home. I live in a 2-bedroom flat. There’s no inspiring corner I could use as my workstation. The spare room I have sorta acts like a storage. So, that means I’m left to work on my couch in my living room where my husband won’t stop chatting with me and my dog won’t stop trying to get me to play.
If I wanted some quiet, I’d have to retreat to my bedroom where every available floorspace has been taken up by our bed. And once I do that … yep. I fall asleep. Hey! At least my sleeping space works!
In the last couple of weeks, pretty much everyone has been demonising those who won’t “stay at home”. Yes, I get it that it’s a safety measure. But sometimes, some of us can’t. I cannot stop working, I cannot NOT be productive.
I realise I don’t have the “right” to take a risk with my health. But in the same vein, who will take care of my bills? Who will rescue me if my company goes under because I’m not giving my 101%?
I’m NOT placing “commercial interests” above personal safety and public health concerns. All I’m sharing here is working from home is tough for some of us — mentally and emotionally. And if it seems like everyone is celebrating like it’s the best thing since sliced bread, then you’re not getting the whole loaf.