Chances are, we all had high hopes for 2020, yet we were met with one challenge after another. And while the impact varies from person to person, we all had to adapt to the new reality one way or another.
As stressful as the last few months have been for me, I have made a conscious effort to make the most of the situation. Which means utilizing any and all resources I have and directing them to improve areas of my life that I couldn’t with an office job.
I consider myself lucky to have a job in a company that develops healthcare software. However, balancing a full-time job and my bachelor degree in a highly practical field has been challenging from day one. I have three main responsibilities. The first one is putting in 40 hours at work and meeting my deadlines at my job. The second one was attending my lectures - many of which are in the format of workshops with demanded attendance. And the third one is completing my credited projects - that would take vastly more time than my lectures.
All of that taken into acount, distributing my time has always been difficult at best, and usually didn’t leave room for much else. However, as I am working and studying from home - cutting out up to three hours a day from the commute, I have been able to prioritize my university load better and I can see the results clearly in my projects.
When I think about health, in my head it is broken down to a few categories: fitness, food, sleep and mental health.
Staying healthy and maintaining good physical mobility has been a priority for me over the last few years - and I have observed tremendous improvements over time. When I put in consistent effort, I am much more energetic, confident, optimistic and overall happy.
Staying at home allowed me to get consistent, good-quality sleep of 7 to 8 hours. Not to mention being able to incorporate daily workout routines - even if they are quick 15-minute ones. I tend to switch between strength training, stretching and dance workouts7 that keep things fun and at the same time allow me to build different motor skills simultaneously, even if at a more general level.
I was also able to rekindle my love for cooking and also explore a variety of meals that are easy to whip up and take to work for lunch from basic ingredients.
As for my mental health, I make it a priority to listen to my instincts. I do not push myself too much to be perfect if I am having a bad day - while I do stay on top of my deadlines and responsibilities.
I communicate with loved ones and I take the time to explore the things that make me feel better.
One thing that has been a pillar for my wellbeing is maintaining and growing my hobbies. I have always had many artistic inclinations, but I hardly had time to practice my art outside of design projects. And there was even less time for my singing and love for board games.
I can now redirect time id spend in traffic or on a lunch break at the office doing something I genuinely enjoy. Which leads to me getting better about it and an immense boost in confidence. As much as I want to share my activities more with friends face-to-face, I have found ways to adapt. I got some friends hooked on Hearthstone that has a similar feel as board-game. I joined skillshare art classes and share my progress with the tutor and the rest of the people who take it, receiving feedback and being a part of a tight-knit community.
My biggest challenge, by far has been managing distractions at home. As amazing it is that I can fit in all my responsibilities, priority needs and hobbies, it is easy for everything to bleed into one big mess.
Normally, I would have to move from one place to another to switch between my activities. So it is easy to manage my focus on my task at hand when I physically transition to one place to another. I associate the office with my job, the university with lectures and seminars, my home desk with design work and my couch with sweet sweet Netflix time. And of-course the gym with physical exercise.
At home, however, I use one desk for work as well as education. And the seriousness of the work can be easily spoiled with my couch and TV right there next to me.
So I made some furniture rearrangement to section off my living area so I can have a sense of separation that I need. And it still took me a while to have anything resembling a schedule that I can keep.
I already touched on this. But I do believe time management deserves more attention. Once I made arrangements to deal with the physical distractions all around me, I was able to make progress with my work.
But the next obstacle was that without the need to meet a specific schedule for lectures to work, all of my responsibilities expanded and mashed together. Before I know it, the time is 6 pm and I have way more to get done for the day than I realized.
As an attempt to maintain normalcy, I included a self-assigned schedule and used Pomodoro timers to get started. My performance varies day to day, but I manage to keep up so far.
We are dealing with difficult and to a degree unprecedented times. It is easy to feel discouraged and to focus on the negative experiences we have. But if we do just as much as we can every day, little by little, when we look back we will realise how we made the most we could personally.
On a daily basis, I feel like I am falling behind and struggling. But it is really the opposite because I have grown and improved in ways I wasn’t expecting and didn’t think I could.