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?
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You’re not insane, you’re not wrong, you’re not broken, and you’re not a terrible parent or a terrible worker if you’re having a hard time getting work done while also sustaining the full-time job of caring for a baby. Taking care of a baby is a huge job, one that requires the work of multiple adults. But instead, we ask women to do it all, without help or support, and then to work additional jobs on top of the round-the-clock work of childcare. It’s impossible.
Growing up, James Breakwell never had to think about what jobs he wasn’t allowed to pursue. That changed when he had kids. As the father of four girls — one of whom recently said she wants to be a construction worker, and another who asked if she could be the Pope — he’s had to put himself in the shoes of the females surrounding him at home. As an author and internet personality behind the popular Twitter account @XplodingUnicorn, James is best known for his viral tweets depicting hilarious snippets of conversations with his daughters. In this interview with our first startup dad, he gets real about how he navigates building a public persona based on his family life — including how much to share and what to withhold.
We need your leadership from where you are—as you are. We’ve known for a long time that we need much more diverse leadership, that we need women’s leadership, and that we need new models of power. As Elizabeth Lesser says, we need to embrace “power to,” not just “power over.” We need truth telling, and we need new visions. We need you, your work, and your brave new thinking. We need you to show up. We need you to be who you really are, not what an archaic model of power and “leadership” tells you to be. Take care, take the rest you need, take action, and show up. Even and especially as you are.
School is back in session, and parents everywhere are fatigued, overwhelmed, and still in the lurch. Workplaces are less and less forgiving, and yet the problems created by the pandemic are still here. What’s a working parent to do? Last week, Lions + Tigers gathered a panel to talk about specific steps parents can take to strategically plan ahead for the coming year. I hosted a conversation with Brea Starmer, founder of Lions+Tigers, Shauna Causey of Weekdays, and Blessing Adesiyan of Mother Honestly.
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.