If you’re like me, you have lost all conception of time and space. At the beginning of the pandemic (which still feels in many ways like only last month…) I followed all the advice to maintain a schedule to keep projects on task and keep my work product moving along. Since then, I have done a very good job of getting my tasks done, filling the needs of my research class, and keeping up with ongoing projects. But when it comes to the schedule: that fell away in about one month; or was it one hour?
Part of the problem is that I have three young children at home. While my wife works at home taking care of our children, it is impossible (and inpractical) for me to separate my work-life from home-life while working from home. Children cry, spouses get frustrated, kids work parents off of each other, and just other things come up at home that I would otherwise not be privy to: for instance who knew kids changed their clothes 10x a day and leave every article on the floor? I have written in the past about my children and their distracting ways, but these distractions are unpredictable and not conveniently timed (hense why they are distractions). Because of that, I can either keep my set schedule or refuse to ignore my children, but I can’t do both.
To that end, my time has become an amorophus blob in which I find odd times to do the work that needs to get done. I will be sure to sign in every morning at 7:30am and log out sometime around 4:00pm, but in the middle, there is nothing but uncertainty. Most days I have been able to work the entire time; others I am forced to go away from my computer for minutes to hours at a time. When this happens, I make up the time in other ways: working later in the day, working through lunches other days, or (most commonly) working during the weekends.
From my conversations with many of you, I doubt this comes as a shock: in fact I think many of us went the first couple months of working from home without a substantial weekend. On the one hand, this is certainly not ideal since we all need to find time to take a break. But on the other hand, even leisure time is fundamentally different. In the past, this time of year is one of looking forward to birthdays and holiday celebrations, and while there will be those in some form, they will not be the huge time committments they were in the past. Even a simple act of getting together with friends is off the table for most of us. So while I believe we all must make sure we take breaks, there is actually more time to take breaks with the health conscious need to social distance, and the simple fact that we no longer need to commute as much.
All this is to say (and this should come as no surpise) that things are fundamentally different now. I stopped thinking a long time ago about my days and weeks as work time and home time: it is almost impossible to do that when they are literally the same place. Instead what I have tried focusing on is the using this time at home to the fullest advantage. This means I’ll take time to talk and read with my children, an opportunity I would not have had a year ago during the day. Not being able to go anywhere on a Friday night or weekend, means I can use that time to work instead of forcing myself to work on Wednesday afternoon when I’m tired and distracted. Instead I can go out and have a conversation with my wife now, so she can watch a show I have no interest in later while I’m working. It was of course easy to schedule and plan before; but since things are so uncertain, I have found it is best to not try to draw bright lines between work and home, and to instead go with the flow. However, when it comes to working out, that is something I simply do not have any time for 😦