[Image: The Noun Project.]
My coaching and consulting practice serves social-sector leaders —people who spend their days focused on things like making sure young children have books at home, giving teens a safe place to learn after school, offering scholarships to first-generation college students, fighting climate change, raising money for community health centers.
I've worked at home for a dozen years, so in the early days of the pandemic my work didn't change much — except that I stopped getting on airplanes and started spending way more time on Zoom. Most of my clients, though, weren't so fortunate. Working parents were thrust into trying to do full-time jobs under new circumstances while organizing multi-age schooling and negotiating with their partners for an uninterrupted hour to write a memo or hold a meeting. People who lived alone started feeling lonely. People still leaving home for a work site had to navigate new safety measures. Nearly everyone felt unmoored from familiar structures and routines. And it's worth saying that all of this is against a backdrop of relative privilege and safety. My clients worked in offices, went to yoga or the gym, sent their children to school or to day care, planned for summer camp.
At the beginning, all of us did the best we could. We let the house be messy. We worked a little less. We renegotiated deadlines. When George Floyd was murdered over Memorial Day weekend, we shifted our attention and our priorities again to have urgent conversations in public and in private.
Four months after the initial stay-at-home orders, I've been thinking a lot about sustainable work. How will people doing jobs that matter so much to society keep doing them in a new way, for many more months than we ever imagined? Part of what will make that possible, I think, is to re-imagine three dimensions: when, where, and how we work during each day and each week.
Here's an experiment. Take the worksheet at the bottom of this post. Reflect on each of these three dimensions. What does it look and feel like now? What's working? What's not? What would you like to change, and how could that happen? Do you need a conversation with a partner, a roommate, or an older child? What conversation might be necessary with your supervisor or your teammates? Can you create a new ritual for starting and ending your day, or for signaling that you need an hour of quiet?
Over the next week, try to make just one or two small shifts. Evaluate. Check in again in ten days, or next time something shifts outside or inside your home. Try again. Let what you learn shape your next response, your next conversation.
My regular yoga teacher often says, when she's offering us a new way into and out of a pose: "It will be wobbly." Everything is pretty wobbly right now. We have to keep re-balancing ourselves, our families, our work-life fit. Let yourself fall down, like a toddler learning to walk. Take one sure step, and then another.
Finally, as I often say to anyone who's in a transition: Gather support. Whether it's a phone conversation with a friend, a regular walking date (wearing a mask!), a weekly virtual coffee with a colleague, ten good minutes with your partner while unloading the dishwasher, or a few moments with a podcast or a book you love while brushing your teeth, find some moments that offer joy and ease.
Want to have a conversation with me about this? Interested in offering a one-hour virtual workshop to a group? Contact me here. Thanks for reading!