It was probably 1991, I was very young sitting in front of a computer monitor in my parents’ basement office. The same one I would eventually study in and complete my master’s degree in, but I did not know that then. My father was showing me the basics of the Microsoft world and one of the first cool tricks he showed me was: CTRL+ALT+DELETE “when you're stuck, you can press all three, the computer shuts down and reboots” said my father.
“cool!” I responded.
MAN did I abuse of that feature whenever a program would no longer respond. It served me well to restart quickly.
Back to today. March 2020.
Our worlds have been saturated by the repeated following words: quarantine…voluntary isolation…hand sanitizer…cleaning wipes….coronavirus…COVID-19…pandemic…fear…lowering the curve….and last BUTT not least: toilet paper.
In one single day, Friday the 13th to be precise, we all saw our city shutting down. One event at a time, one school after another, all arenas, gyms, parcs, bars, coffeeshops, one after another…until almost complete shutdown of the city. Apart from the ice storm back in 1998, this is a completely new and unusual time.
A time that forces into our homes and out of our daily routine. A time when social gatherings of any size are forbidden. And if there is something human beings thrive on, it is definitely the predictability of their schedules and goals, however little or futile we think they are. Psychology 101: knowing what is coming, gives us a perception of control and COVID-19 did a nice job at destroying that perception, erasing all existing benchmarks and leaving us no choice but to cancel our plans and rituals.
I can still hear COVID-19 laughing...
Quite the creature of habit I am and my daily interactions with my colleagues fuels my stamina, motivation and creativity. Far from being alone in these strange circumstances, the workforces rapid moved into slow-motion pushed all businesses to their limits. Having now been in this isolating situation for a little over a week, I find myself asking:
What have we done? How blind have we been to our existing? It seems the planet needs to reboot and stop us from what we were doing to gain perspective. Surely, the world we will return to will not be the same as the one we left behind B.C. (Before COVID-19). What are we learning from this?
It turns out that being confined to your home leaves you dealing with…well….yourself. and your home too.
That is when all those awesome hobbies and self-actualization activities come in handy! If you don’t keep tabs on yourself, you’re probably in for a big reality check.
Who am I without my going out? Do I know myself without my daily rituals? Lucky me, I do J That’s pretty much my life moto. While employment is VERY important and defines much of who I am, I also invest a lot of time in other artistic and cultural interest: music, dance, work outs, reading and writing (my current read: REBEL TALENT by Francesca Gino, Harvard Business School professor, I highly recommended especially in these times) What about you? This confinement is the perfect time to:
READ THAT BOOK or
WRITE THAT BOOK
TAKE AN ONLINE CLASS
PRACTICE THAT SONG ON THE PIANO/GUITAR/TRUMPET
COOK UP A STORM
PLAY BOARD GAMES
The world is rebooting and updating by giving you time to re-center and up-skill yourself.
LOVE YOUR HOME
The second and important element is your home. Household. Personal environment. Call it what you will, the place where you live is a representation of who you are. No matter how big or small, rental or owner, uptown or downtown. If you are stuck staying there for weeks or even months, you need to feel a high connection to your surroundings. Setting up shop at home so that you feel happy to be there is, for me, of the essence. Every piece of furniture, art and photo is carefully selected and placed. Every room has its purpose. How about yours? If not, now is the perfect time to take care of things:
FIX THE BROKEN
The world is resetting and updating by giving you time for manual labor. The freedom of immediate and tangible results to honour your home.
If there is something that was tested from the beginning, it can definitely be said that it is everyone’s capacity to work from home. When employees are called upon by their prime minister to stay home to protect their own lives and that of others, any technological deficiencies an organization has will surface, and fast. The ability to continue running a business away from the office is imperative, like the lifeboats on the Titanic. Unfortunately, the same goes for individuals being ill-equipped at home. By the time some realized they couldn’t go back into the office, they rushed out to buy monitors and laptops, but some suppliers were out of stock. Nightmare.
Lucky me, I cannot remember a time when our home did not have a space solely dedicated for work with a computer and a printer (loud and gigantic back in those days). My parents (yes, they are quite amazing) have always taught me to be self-sufficient in that sense. While For some task silence is best, I sometimes miss the noise and buzz of the city. To quench this neurotic social need, I have a few youtube background tracks to suggest. I often play these as I work, depending on my mood and the actual task, they inspire me to focus:
Rainy Coffee shop/ fairly quiet lovely visual: https://youtu.be/dx3GxpitvbY
Rainy coffee shop/jazzy ambiance : https://youtu.be/iD4dMdpNe_I
Jazzy bar ambiance: https://youtu.be/lzQ3IS1Xq2s
Fan of Hobbits? Enjoy this Spring time and visit a hobbit’s home: https://youtu.be/izJCnRS7yqU
A cozy lounge with lovely snow falling and the sound of a fire’s crackle? https://youtu.be/2Rfcp3c0WNo
The world is restarting and updating by giving you time to create a workspace at home and develop new reflexes.
BREAK THE OLD CYCLE
Sometimes I don’t get us humans. We are in 2020 not 1920. While we ARE called to distance ourselves, we could not be more socially equipped to do so.
All week long we work hard and look up to the weekend to do those things that we “never have time” to do. To go on vacation and break our routine. This generation is fighting to balance work goals and personal goals and we have been blessed with this disguised opportunity to stay home for an undetermined period of time. We literally have to STAY home and limit all travels, errands and gatherings in order to eliminate a pandemic. This is THE ultimate excuse to cancel ALL plans and shift our focus to what we want and... we still find ways to complain?
The universe is stopping us. Breaking our cycle. Pulling us out of our traditional course. The way I see it? There’s a nice white canvas for us all to take and start rewriting our goals for 2020.
Counting out of course those who truly are in a dire financial situation or stuck in another country trying to come home (there’s hope guys, hang tight), you will suffer the consequences of your state of mind if you cannot cope adaptively. To quote Darwin, those who adapt develop characteristics that increase our chances of survival. If you cannot be your own sunshine at this time, it’s back to KNOW YOURSELF. Let’s show the world what we are made of.
How many of us have reached out to help? Numerous individuals and organizations have donated in either time, expertise or financially to help alleviate the stress that this unprecedented situation is imposing on everyone.
If your business is hit, hang on: you’re not alone in this boat and help is coming. Besides, the people working in it should come first, before corporations. The world is resetting, rebooting and cleaning its slate once again. It is throwing us back into basics to appreciate the little things, as there is nothing bigger than the little things in life. If you have your health and your freedom, you’re already rich! The rest is gravy. Unfortunately, some aren’t as lucky and have been affected by the COVID-19 and fighting for their life. If that is not the case for you, rejoice and continue to actively kill the virus by staying inside and not spreading germs of any kind.
Italians singing and playing music from balconies. Spanish trainers hosting exercise sessions from rooftops. Uber Eats now removing delivery fees if you buy local. Couche-Tard and Tim Hortons offering free coffees to all front-line workers. Comedians and musicians streaming entertainment online for free to keep morale up. People creating hilarious home confinement jokes to laugh at ourselves in all this. We, humans, are being connected in a way that’s never seen before.
The world rewriting personal and work lifestyle.
We are being pushed to certain limits we had not anticipated; it is only normal to have to accept a new reality and to readjust our expectations. I’m thinking of parents working from home while maintaining their children’s education or mental stimulation in line. The workforce is adapting and demonstrating more flexibility, as it should. Parents hear me: if your children are fed, happy and you are still getting your job done? All hail! You’re doing great.
I am currently working from home full time, keeping regular contact with my friends, seeing my parents in limited increments of time and Zoom with my colleagues, even just for 30 mins to chat and have a coffee so as to keep my social sanity in check. The extra time I don’t spend traveling to work, I invest in other activities. So far, so good. Even pollution and smog levels have significantly reduced since the worldly shut down or deceleration.
We have it all to make it through.
This is just the beginning, as the new habits and reality we are creating are sure to leave their marks on both households and the workforce. Now that businesses had no choice but to allow for more flexibility, the workforce is greatly changing as we are developing new muscles and realizing that working from home can be just as productive, if you trust your employees. How will companies adjust A.C. (After COVID-19) has yet to be seen.
Until then, let us, humanity, adapt. Reset. Reboot.
Close your eyes, take a deep breath and CTRL+ALT+DEL…
P.S. If anyone reading me is struggling at this time, needs to talk or a good laugh, please reach out to me.
My name is Ivana. I love photography and meeting people. I hold a Master's in counselling psychology and work as a career consultant. Music is my fuel and an important source of energy in my life. I drive my vespa around the city and I love what I do! :) About this blog: me on my artistic soap box!
My first novel!
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