Creatively Working Through COVID Part 6
Challenge accepted, Anastasia! It was great to read about how things are going down under. In a weird and wonderful way, I’ve found that I feel more connected to many of my colleagues during this time of separation than I did when things were “normal.”
Here’s a little glimpse into what life is like for me these days here in Virginia:
Tell us about the quirks of your new co-workers.
Even without COVID, there was never a dull moment in our bustling household with my wife, Jen, and our 3 boys Levi (10), Jared (8), and Nathan (3). Jen and I work busy full-time jobs (me for Appian, of course, and Jen as a leader in the public school system). We were used to spending our nights and weekends shuttling the kids around to the dizzying array of sports and leisure activities that they/we all enjoy (soccer, golf, swimming, piano, hikes, bike rides, toddler gymnastics, and more!). Even though most of those came to a screeching halt back in March, our boys’ thirst for a diversity of activities hasn’t diminished. We’ve made a concerted effort to make sure the boys have plenty to keep them active and engaged.
From left: Levi, Jared & Nathan in their natural habitat
Describe your new normal.
I’ve always been an early riser. When the gyms were open, I would get up at 4:30am to get my exercise in while everyone else was sleeping and be done in time to help get the boys ready and off to school/daycare by 7am. I find that I still get up early (just not THAT early) these days and that it helps to follow roughly the same routine: get ready, catch up on news and email, then get each kid dressed for the day and fed as they get up. One thing that has changed is that we allow the boys about an hour of screen time in the morning, provided they finished enough work from the prior day, before jumping into the day’s events.
“I’m bored!” doesn’t fly in our house
Jen does an amazing job making a schedule for the boys each night for the following day, which incorporates their distance learning sessions, various homework assignments, sports and music practice, reading time, and a video meeting with either a friend, some teammates, or family members. We also have a list of choose-your-own-activities they can pick from in case they happen to complete their scheduled work while Jen and I are in meetings and unable to play/work with them. Of course, none of this applies all that well to Nathan because he tends to command a lot of our attention even at the most inopportune times, but that’s life with a three year old!
Virtual chess with Papa is a common occurrence
One thing I learned early on was how important it is for each child to get 1-on-1 attention, especially when the majority of their days are spent with and around each other. After the second week of isolation, I started building breaks into my work schedule to take one of the boys down to the basement, outside for fresh air, or to the table to play a game. It’s a great time to ask how their day is going, to talk about what they’re thinking/feeling, or to make plans for what we should do for fun that evening.
What do you miss about the office?
A lot, actually. While there are some unexpectedly nice things about working from home, this period has really reaffirmed for me that I’m an office worker. For starters, I miss the face-to-face meetings. I miss seeing the whole person (or people) I’m interacting with, walking out of the room together and continuing the conversation as we part ways and head to our next thing. I miss how easy it was to collaborate — to jump up to a dry erase board and throw the markers around the room as we all contribute our ideas to the discussion. I miss eating lunch with my co-workers in the amazing cafeteria at our HQ and catching up on things totally unrelated to work. And finally, I even miss the commute — a little. I think it’s hard to replicate that quiet reflection you get after a busy workday on the drive home where you can process the events of the day and get ready to give your full attention to whatever the evening has in store.
Watching or reading anything new?
I’ve been slowly and steadily watching my waistline expand (it turns out my whole family are voracious snackers when we’re not constantly on the go) and my grip on reality deteriorate (I’m fairly certain the backyard squirrels are plotting against me). If you meant shows, then yes, tons! My boys and I watched the final season of the Clone Wars — an excellent Star Wars cartoon series on Disney+, which by the way, could NOT have come online at a better time! The whole family also enjoyed the Lego Masters reality competition show together and even tried to imitate some of the challenges, with varying degrees of success =)
I’d like to go coast-to-coast and challenge Zach Kahn, Senior Consultant for Appian out in Los Angeles, California to share how he is creatively working through COVID! Take it away, Zach.