3rd March, 2020.
I got a message from my sister: Please take two days to work from home. I left office thinking I will be back on Monday, the wfh was related to my brother's hospital visits.
I was quite unaware of how long this time away from office will stretch.
1 year later, I am yet to go back to work.
Now that is not a unique story, but I am sure everyone's experience of this lockdown, productivity, working from home, success and relative down points would be different. Often determined by their social, economic, geographical and personal position.
I was lucky to have a comfortable job where the company's priority was employee wellbeing. I was lucky enough to have a fairly functional family/home dynamics. I was extremely lucky to be in a metro city where supply of food and essential materials was never a worry.
It is crucial for me to really reflect on the last one year and what shift it brought to my life and work.
I established a routine, for the first time in life. Almost unknowingly, I changed bits and pieces about my day over the first couple of months and finally solved many aspects of my daily life that were dull nagging pain points over the years.
Worked from home in a global organisation, which can often mean a lot of time management. Being a freelance marketer and social entrepreneur, I had worked from home for 2 years. The avenue was not new to me. Nonetheless, I faced challenges while trying to stay on deadlines and pivot strategies with a company that is spread all over the world (in multiple time zones).
Spent a lot of time with my family, which is not something I thought would happen ever since I left home to study at 16 years of age. Pandemic compelled 5 of us and an infant to co-habitate in 3 rooms. Living in an Indian family can come with its own set of challenges for privacy and individual space, couple that with 24 hours of living and working in the same space. It was not easy. But I found a new dynamic with my mother which was previously unexplored. I managed to give her lots of literature and cinema that she could watch when not busy running the house. I always knew she loved reading and consuming art, but had never actually seen her make time for it. Questions like ''What does she do when everyone is busy working or studying? Does she ever make time for herself?'' hit me. A thought that would not have occured to me, if pandemic did not make me stay indoors for so long.
Paused and really found happiness in everyday. How many times I said in the past : ''Wish I had the time'' (like many of you). We finally got time. So much time that one had to reflect on one's life, especially someone like me who had never done that in the past. I used the time to inculcate some good habits like gratitude journalling, less screen time, 2 hours of reading, yoga and meditation. Happiness is really in perspective and yes it is not easy to see happiness in everyday when one is stripped off of privileges. One must try.
Learnt many new skills. Lack of a marketing degree never really hindered my career progression so far, but one cannot deny the weight technical skills carry. So I signed up for many short upskilling courses. This helped me in embracing my role of a marketing strategist in a more comprehensive way. It is ok to maybe fail in learning, but I feel if we are not learning for/at work, what is the point?
Stumbled while trying to stay productive. To stay productive was probably my biggest challenge. An anxious mind and body combination with a noisy household is not the best recipe for productivity. On some days, work consumed me and I did not get the time to cater to my anxieties. On other days, anxiety consumed me and work just did not happen. On few days, household took preference over everything. I learnt a major lesson in creating designated workspaces and self-discipline. Nevertheless, I am sailing through .
There are many more aspects of personal life that shifted during the last one year, as am sure they did for many of you. Regardless, I stay super grateful to the universe for all that I have and all that I gained (perspectives and ideas). This was a super diconcerting and hard time for the entire world, to be coming out of it with positivity seems like an uphill battle. I feel like we survived. And that is enough.