With 2020 finally coming to a close many of us are looking towards 2021 and hoping that we might return to some version of “the old normal.” With multiple vaccines achieving over 90% efficacy rate there is reasonable hope that the most vulnerable will be protected and the hospital/death rates will (hopefully) go down significantly.
“The Great Pause” has been devastating in so many ways, but it has given me time to think about my life from a birds-eye view. While I’m excited about certain things from the “old normal” potentially returning, there are some elements that I would love to leave in the past.
Time Spent Commuting
It’s crazy to think I did this process twice a day, every day:
- Wake up (15 minutes)
- Get ready (20 minutes)
- Walk to/wait for the train (15 minutes)
- Subway (15 minutes)
- Walk to work (10 minutes)
Total round-trip time: 2 hours 30 minutes
I do not miss waking up exhausted, walking to the train in the freezing wind, packing into the subway like a sardine in a can, to sit in a cold office all day pretending to be busy.
Reclaiming those 2.5 hours has significantly improved my life and I do not want to give those back again.
It’s amazing how much money you can save when you don’t leave the house!
I was living below my means before the pandemic, but over quarantine, my savings has skyrocketed, and I’ve been able to grow my investment portfolios.
Certain personal guilty pleasures like nice dinners, fancy cocktails, and my (expensive but worth it) gym membership will continue, but I will definitely be more intentional with my spending.
Wasted Office Time
When the world shut down, I had only been working for eight months, so my “working” hours could be organized into four main categories:
- Taking notes in meetings
- Reading product documents
- Trying not to piss my manager off with my existence
- Trying to look busy when someone walked by my desk
I worked from 9:30 AM-5:00 PM with an hour lunch, so of my 6.5 working hours each day, the vast majority was spent alternating between 3 and 4.
With those unused hours in the workday now at my disposal, I’ve been able to pursue other passions and improve my skills. I’ve had more time to do things like practice writing, take courses on Pluralsight/Coursera, and take professional development courses on LinkedIn Learning. This has allowed me to enrich my life both inside and outside of work.
Time Away From Family
In the US, the average worker with five years of experience at a company is given 15 days of paid vacation. So for those who don’t live within reasonable driving distance from their families only have three weeks worth of time to potentially be at home. Two to three weeks of family time (plus or minus a couple of weekends potentially) out of 52 is not a lot.
Working from my childhood home for the last nine months has made me very happy, and I would love to be able to spend more time at home. With remote work being increasingly accepted and implemented by workplaces, I hope that 100% office attendance will no longer be necessary.
I definitely suffered from toxic productivity in New York. I ALWAYS had a to-do list and a schedule even for my “relaxing” weekends. My Saturdays always looked something like this:
- 11:00 AM — 11:30 AM — Wake-up, get ready and walk to the gym
- 11:40–12:40 — Power yoga
- 12:40 — 1:40 — Stretch, shower, and get dressed
- 1:40–3:00 — Brunch
- 3:00–4:00 — Clean the apartment
- 4:00–5:30 — Do laundry, watch TV and maybe call home/a friend
- 5:30–7:30 — Nap
- 7:30–8:30 — Get dressed and ready to go out
- 8:30–10:30 — Pregame with friends
- 10:30–1:30 — Bars downtown
- 2:00 AM — 3:00 AM — Facetime my boyfriend
I look at that now and feel exhausted, and when I was running myself ragged I was constantly tired but honestly pretty happy.
There have been many days in quarantine where I woke up with nothing to “accomplish” and felt uneasy. Instead of making a to-do list, I allowed myself to sit in my discomfort and think about why a day is only successful if I was “productive.”
So some days I spent curled up with my book listening to jazz, others I spent hiking, and others I spent laying in the park watching the clouds with my friends.
I don’t want to live and die by my to-do list every second of my life. I want to hold onto and continue to create the moments of peace I’ve enjoyed so much over this time.
All in all, I’m very grateful for The Great Pause. It stopped me in my tracks quite literally and forced me to slow down. It made me improve the relationship I have with myself, reevaluate what makes me happy, and examine my priorities.
I’m excited to integrate my life B.C. (before coronavirus) and A.C. to hopefully eventually find a happy medium.