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
The other day, I was reading an article on Time Magazine that I couldn’t stop reading. Dr. Kyl Myers, an author, had written a long-form piece about gender, sex and parenting. Dr. Kyl Myers holds a PhD in sociology and studies and speaks about gender. Kyl is an award-winning educator and a globally recognized advocate for gender creative parenting. Since 2016, Kyl has been speaking and writing about gender creative parenting and using their own parenting story to help the world learn about and embrace a new type of childhood. Kyl Myers goes by “she” and “her” pronouns, as well as “they” and “them.” Dr. Myers is the author of Raising Them: Our Adventure In Gender Creative Parenting. This is a fascinating conversation about parenting, gender, and what we can do as parents to help reduce gender violence, oppression against women and men, and create a more playful world.
In America, the word “mother” is nearly always describing white motherhood. That’s what Nefertiti, a single African American woman and the author of “Motherhood So White,” discovered when she decided she wanted to adopt a Black baby boy out of the foster care system. Eager to finally join the motherhood ranks, Nefertiti was shocked by the assumptions people had about what adoption, motherhood, and Black motherhood should look like. She realized that American society saw motherhood through a white lens, and that there would be no easy understanding or acceptance of the kind of family she hoped to build.
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.
Begin writing a post that says “Working parents are not okay.”‘ Delete sentences because no one is okay. There isn’t really a comparison game to be played here. Call your friend and realize that you’re having trouble stringing words together. Hang up the telephone because both of your children and pushing buttons on the phone and you can’t actually have a real conversation while children and buttons are in close proximity. What was it that they said? “Opening my computer is like a pavlovian response for my child.” Yeah, that.
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.