It just might be the worst kind of milestone to note — today is the 50th day of my isolation. What started on February 29 as a precaution, is now become a way of life. I have not had much contact with the outside world. Three friends have dropped by and said hello from their car. One of them brought me a cookie, while another helped out with some coffee beans. And the father of my goddaughters brought them so I could see them through the car windows and talk to them.
This morning, I woke up thinking about the present reality. Like others, our current state causes me a lot of distress. And like everyone else, I have bad days. But that is no way to live, and as Dalai Lama says, “We have to make a sustained effort, again and again, to cultivate the positive aspects within us.”
However, the only way forward is acknowledging this reality. I can’t be working 15 hours a day, and I need my downtime, even if it means shutting down the screen and turning off the phones. It also means picking the medium of communication to experience emotions effectively.
I feel so much more connected when I call someone on the phone, for there is no video to distract, just an expression and sharing of feelings through simple intonations of voice and hearing. The room to imagine the other, in a strange way, brings you closer to others. My friend Elise has been writing letters, so I decided to do the same. I am just dropping a note to random friends I have not seen in a long time. It is quite fun. What about video?
Zoom is now for work and occasional social gatherings. For one on one, I have switched to FaceTime, as an attempt to distinguish professional versus social video communications. I think the idea of Zoom for everything was giving me a Zoom burnout – and had created a weird feeling of everything being the same. By creating subtle differences in the medium I choose, I have started to create boundaries (however flimsy) that allow me to give a sense of separation — important when your home and office are six feet apart.
I had previously shared some of my “work from home tips.” Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp shared many tips and suggestions in this episode of Stuck@Om podcast. (Warning: It is long.) If you don’t mind, go ahead and share your working from home productivity tips – either in comments below or over on Twitter1.
For now, my day 50 is the weekend. So I am going to do weekend things – make coffee, clean the apartment, maybe iron my clothes and polish my shoes. It is good to have some time away from the screens.
April 18, 2020. San Francisco