The only way I know to avoid panic: work through it | Kathleen Celmins

The only way I know to avoid panic: work through it

When you’re unexpectedly thrust into something different, it can be terrifying.

Everybody’s saying that the work from home future is here. Everybody thinks that this is a beginning, an acceleration of the transition to working from home. I’m not sure I believe that.

I love working from home. I love it even though right now there is a tiny person a few feet away who is trying to not scream. I’ve asked for five minutes and that’s probably what I’ll get.

But this is probably not the beginning.

What this forced work from home stuff is doing is showing people how much they miss about office work. If you’ve just been thrust into working from home, or worse, you have one of the millions upon millions of jobs that just disappears during a situation where necessities are the only thing we’re allowed to buy – you don’t like it. For every person who’s like ”Yeah! No pants!” there are ten people that are like, “Alright. I’m ready to get back to work.”

I want to talk about the only way that I am able to work through any of this. Well, the two ways.

One is my husband who is shouldering all of the responsibilities of caring for two young children in a confined space while I’m trying to get some work done. I don’t think it could be overstated how much I lean on him and how much everybody who has a spouse that doesn’t work leans on them all the time. It’s just a little more pronounced when they can’t even go to the park.

The other thing that helps me not spin completely out of control is to work through it.

Find one project that you can work on and work on it for the next week. Yes, there are 50,000 different things you can do. Yes, there are people that are like ”Oh you have all this time now – why don’t you learn a new language?”

And to those people I say – come on.

The reality is there’s something going on at home that you need to deal with that is much more important than learning Spanish or Italian. Some of those well-intended suggestions tend to just add to the guilt.

If you try to do a thousand things at once, and especially if some of those things aren’t really doable (such as becoming fluent in Spanish) your going to end up spinning out of control.

Then you’re just scrolling through Facebook, yelling at somebody on Twitter or updating your investments. Unless you really like epidemiology and it sparks your interest on a real level, and not a panic level, you don’t need to be any more knowledgeable about infectious diseases.

Try it my way. Put your head down and get some work done – and do whatever you can to close some loops. An unfinished task is an open-loop and the most satisfying thing –  the thing that’s like picking a puzzle piece out of the box and putting it right into the spot that it goes – is closing loops. Break up your work into small pieces and work through it.

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kathleen
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