Quarantine is like jail. Well, sort of. Even if being homebound isn’t quite the same as an episode of “Orange is the New Black” or “Oz”, there are definite parallels between the two predicaments. For one, nobody goes to either place happily.
This may sound a bit overdramatic – especially considering I’ve worked at home most of my adult life. But that was by choice. I chose to avoid in-person meetings. I chose a 10-second commute up the stairs each day, as opposed to sitting in traffic. See? There’s a difference.
I doubt it’s just me, though. Freelancers and remote workers around the world are stuck inside (and hopefully safer for it). Quarantine has robbed us of many things, freedom of choice among the most important.
The day the cloud of this pandemic lifts, though, watch out. Oh yes, there will be celebrations aplenty. The earth may even vibrate due to all the dancing. As for me, I have my own little list of things I’d like to do…
Work from a Coffee Shop (Just Once)
This is one of the biggest stereotypes of freelancers. We go out and have a cup of coffee, while staring intently at our laptops for hours.
It’s also something I never really cared to do. Being particular about my work environment, I can’t fathom the distraction of being in a place filled with strangers, trying to get things done. How can I concentrate on buggy code when some fool spills half and half on my shoe?
Yet, I also long for the freedom to have dairy products poured upon me (accidentally, of course). Just maybe, when things improve, I’ll head to Starbucks and pay homage to this act others assume all web designers do.
Introduce Myself to Someone at a Design Conference
With so many events having been cancelled or moved online, the industry is just teeming with loneliness. I’m right there with you, as I had a speaking gig snatched away due to quarantine.
And, while I do feel a sense of camaraderie at conferences, I am a bit of an introvert. As such, I generally don’t approach people and strike up conversations. If someone approaches me, however, I’ll ramble on for what seems like too long. Maybe it sounds weird, but that’s me.
Regardless, I always tell myself that I’ll be more open at these things – someday. Well, what better time than when we’re all free to go to conferences again?
I don’t think I’ll turn into the life of the party. But, just maybe, I can say “Hi” without too much trouble. However, I still may have to opt for the elbow-bump over a handshake.
Make the Weekend a “Work Free” Zone
One side effect of working at home during a quarantine is that you really have no excuse for not working. Even before all of this craziness came upon us, the temptation to head over to the desk during off hours was strong. Now? It’s overwhelming.
On weekends, I’ve found myself with nothing to do (or, nothing I want to do) and nowhere to go. The boredom makes it just too easy to sit down and start working. Before I know it, a few minutes turns into an hour.
The upside is that some items get knocked off of my to-do list. No complaints there. But, feeling compelled to work isn’t all that healthy. Over time, that can add up to being stressed out on what are supposed to be days off.
Eventually, there will be other things to do – even some places to go. But even if that place is just my couch, it will be nice to get away from the office for a few days. And, please pass me a beer.
Look Back with Gratitude
During a time when so much of the world has been shut down, it would be easy to harbor some bad feelings. That would be a natural reaction, I think, as I doubt anyone is really enjoying this historic moment. It’s been tragic for so many, and draining for all.
That being said, it would be nice to find some silver linings. Coming out of this healthy, for one, would be a great start. But there are other things to be grateful for.
Personally, I’m hoping that breaking out of quarantine will result in my being more outwardly grateful. There are so many things I’ve taken for granted.
Family, my business, the ability to work from home – they are at the top of the list. This pandemic has shown that none of these things are a given. They can be taken away without a moment’s notice.
Sure, I’ll still be grumpy after all is said and done. But I can mix in a little gratitude every now and then.