The Quarantine Diaries, Day 10: If I am not my productivity, what am I?

Day 10. Two whole work weeks behind me. This whole working-from-home thing is starting to feel like the new normal.

This week, I had a few very bad days. Wednesday I had planned to do a home workout and practice some pole, but I was completely exhausted and I wound up going to bed at 10 p.m. Thursday I woke up early, went for a run, and proceeded to have a very long day at “work.” Despite the flexibility of home office, I still can’t shake the feeling that I don’t have enough time for myself, so I tried to request Friday off work. The weather forecast said it would be the warmest day of the year so far, and I wanted to take some time to work in my little garden. I thought maybe I’d make up for the home workout on Thursday night, but I didn’t – instead, I shared a bottle of wine with my boyfriend, and woke up hung over and miserable the next day.

Friday – today – started off terrible. Thinking I might still be able to get the day off, I invited my boyfriend to stay the day with me. But I had to redo a work assignment because the first version I’d done wasn’t good enough, and my colleagues were swamped with their own projects and didn’t have capacity to take over, so I agreed to work the morning and only take the afternoon off. I felt awful – the work I was doing wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t sticking to the exercise routine I’d imposed onto myself, and I had a noticeable hangover after half a bottle of wine.

My boyfriend tried to get my attention as I was video conferencing with colleagues, headphones in. It was my turn to talk, so I ignored him. At the next opportunity, I put my mic on mute and asked him what it was. The doorbell had rang. It was a package for me. I was irritated. I couldn’t leave the video conference, and I didn’t want my boyfriend running around in the background in his underwear. By the time I’d maneauvered my camera so it was facing a wall and he’d put trousers on, the delivery guy had already left, and I missed my package.

The final straw came when I asked my boyfriend to make breakfast for us – twice – and he said “yes,” then continued laying in bed scrolling through his phone. I finally just made myself breakfast and shouted at him to leave.

I finished up my assignments for work, stuffed myself with last night’s pizza, and laid down to take a nap. I felt awful – awful for not being a good employee, awful for being hung over after three glasses of wine, awful for shouting at my boyfriend, awful for not doing any of the sports or music or gardening I had been looking forward to doing. I lay there, having not done any sports for the past two days and with a belly full of pizza, and I felt like a fat slug.

I woke up two hours later feeling slightly better. I went to work in my garden, weeded a small corner of it, and planted a lavender plant. (This is at least the third lavender I’ve planted there – let’s hope this one survives). Some neighbors had put some potted flowers and a couple of garden chairs in the garden, which was nice, but they’d neglected to water the flowers, so I tried to revive them. The broccoli and kale which I’d planted in the fall was already shooting upwards, and I wondered if this false spring would cause it to go to seed. I removed three piles of dog poop.

In the evening, I had an online chair dance course with my pole dance studio. For the first time in ages, I felt like looking nice, so I put on makeup and cute socks in preparation for the course. The choreography was pretty easy, and it turned out nice.

Feeling like that wasn’t workout enough, afterwards I played on the pole for a bit, working on my inverts and climbs, then downloaded a stretching app and did a front-splits stretching session. I liked the mixture of poses I knew and poses I didn’t, the flexibility to choose your level and your session duration, and the soothing, yoga-teacher voice of the instruction video. And now I’m here, writing this blog post.

Now I am meditating on why a day which isn’t productive is necessarily a bad day. Everybody has to edit or re-do assignments at work sometimes, and it’s no big deal. I had fantasized that, with no social life and no travel time, I’d have the time and the energy to work out every day, but I realized really quickly already that I still work for eight hours a day and have my regular chores like cleaning the apartment and cooking dinner, so that’s just not feasible. Even on days where I have time, I don’t always have the energy – sometimes, you need to go to bed early or take a nap. And that’s okay.

It’s hard for me to find a balance between using my time effectively and ticking things off my to-do list, and being human and needing some time to relax or do nothing. At least, as I remind myself, I’m not bored, and I’m not lonely. And I still have a job.

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