I fell back in love with science during the Covid-19 pandemic.
That’s it. That is the whole post!
No really, I was on the brink prior to this pandemic. For years, I knew something was off, but I just kept chugging along. I would sit in meetings and would be present, but not present. I thought it meant that I was no longer in love with science. I didn’t realize that I was just mentally and physically exhausted. The mandated “stay at home” order allowed me to slow down, literally! I don’t procrastinate as much. I am more productive and creative. My love for reading journal articles and drawing models to explain how X may affect Y has returned! I have time to do more of the things that I always wanted to do (e.g., start my own small garden, master short rib tacos with homemade pickled red onions and lime crema, ride my bike often, take my dog to the park every day, free my curly afro), you know the little things.
Now, don't get me wrong, the first few months were incredibly hard. I missed my family and friends. I worried about our neighborhood restaurants and other small businesses. I sympathized with the struggles of many of my friends and family who were now "home-school" teachers while continuing their full-time jobs. I worried about everyone's health! I still worry about ALL of these things. However, I knew that I couldn't remain in this state of frenzy if I wanted to get anything done. I knew that whenever this pandemic ended, I didn't want to be in the same mental place I was in when it started. I figured that because I don't have nearly as many face-to-face meetings, and I don't have to drive back and forth between campuses, and I don't have to worry about what I look like before I walk out of the door that I should take advantage of my extra time and do more of the things that I didn't have time to do.
Because my work life and home life are in sync for the first time EVER, I can do more of the personal things that I have always wanted to do while still being MORE productive at work. Part of this increased productivity is because I have cultivated a creative and peaceful living space that makes it easier to work from home. When your home life is out of sync it will impact your work life.
Let me say (write) this again, when you don't take the time to appropriately tend to your personal life, it will eventually screw up your work life! Being stressed out and running on fumes on a daily basis, blocks your creativity.
A depressed work force will give you depressed effort. As a leader it is important for you to check on your staff, sometimes their prolonged periods with lack of productivity is not necessarily because they are lazy or not good enough. Sometimes a lack of productivity is due to a good ol’ fashioned mind-clog because of exhaustion! A clogged mind will not produce creative ideas. Great ideas stem from free-flowing thoughts.
This pandemic, while scary and dreadful in so many ways, has allowed me to fall back in love with things that are important to me because I am taking care of me. I am tending to my personal life which is indeed more beneficial for my work life. When life goes back to "normal," I hope that we all learn that we don’t have to compromise our personal life for our job. In fact, I think it is detrimental to continue to maintain this faulty and distorted view that our work life should supersede our personal life.