By this point, most of the world has spent some time under stay at home orders, and many people (myself included) are still staying at home even though restrictions have been lifted. There are also speculations here in the United States that there may be more stay at home orders in the future (but that’s another topic entirely). A few days ago, I had a conversation with a friend about what life is going to look like in the future, speculating on that hoped-for time when we have a vaccine and people are able to move about and interact in ways that closely resemble life before.
That conversation led to a discussion of how the extreme situation of being locked down had led both of us to realize some important things about our lives, and how we wanted to make sure that we incorporated them into that future “new normal”. Today, I’d like to propose that we could all use a little reflection about personal takeaways.
I want to start with two things to consider, and there are a few more coming next week.
I think that being in isolation made a lot of us realize how much we value seeing and interacting with others. I’ve made strong efforts to stay connected to friends, family, and coworkers, and look forward to the time when I can see and spend time with them. However, I’ve also come to understand that I wasn’t fully taking advantage of these opportunities before. During lockdown, I was able to strengthen relationships that had been falling by the wayside, because I’ve been distracted by other things and haven’t put time and energy into staying in touch. I had gotten into the habit of declining a lot of social invitations because I was focused on work, and hadn’t really noticed that I was losing touch with some people. Lockdown gave me the time to reach out, but I know, upon reflection, that I can make the time moving forward, and I plan to do that.
I think that this experience has given all of us the chance to think about the people and activities that are really important to us, and to commit to prioritizing them in the future.
I’ve mentioned many times that I love my job, and I generally don’t mind my 55-70 hour work weeks (yes, 55 hours really is how much time I work in a typical week, and there’s usually at least one week a month where I hit the 60-70 range). However, for a variety of reasons the fact that we’re all working from home has ended up cutting down on the work time. I’ve been working 40-45 hours pretty consistently these past few months, and I’ve discovered that as much as I like to work, I also like having more free time. Many of my coworkers have talked about appreciating the surprising shift we’ve experienced. On the other hand, I’ve talked to a lot of people whose work hours have increased because of working from home. It’s really dependent on the industry, the specific job, and the actions of leadership.
There are starting to be some indications from my job that expectations and workload are going to increase soon, and I’ve realized that (somewhat surprisingly), I’m not 100% ok with that. I haven’t yet figured out what I’m going to do about that, but I’m doing some serious thinking and analysis (I might post about that in the future) about what I’ve suddenly decided is a problem.
So that’s the second thing I believe it would be good for everyone to consider. And if you aren’t currently employed (retired, family caregiver, etc.), I’d still suggest evaluating your commitments and regular activities. If you don’t want to go back to the old model, now is the time to think about how to make changes.
What has lockdown taught you about your own life and priorities? What are other things to consider?