Whatever they say or you say to yourself, I hope you are good at taking breaks.
I am not.
The only time I took regular breaks were last Spring when we were working from home, and I could walk around the neighbourhood during the day, to take a break and enjoy the Spring.
Certainly, it made me happy and relaxed.
Then came high volume of work, well because, hello! working from home is so inefficient for some tasks and things started to pile up on my to-do list. Then came winter, and the to-do list became longer and more painful.
I have been tired since the beginning of the month, and am hoping to take some time off in April. But the lagging works, uncompleted work – some urgent and critical -, the stress and un-satisfaction coming out of all of these naturally have brought me to near-burn-out.
I can work with great energy 2-3 days a week (rather than 6 days a week, as before) now. Still good performance, but not good enough. Since I am tired, I want to rest during the weekends, but if I do not work even for a couple of hours each Saturday and Sunday, my week work load gets bigger. And I am back to square one. Tired, but cannot rest to prevent further tiredness, or goodness prevents, a future burn-out.
I try to be compassionate and tolerant with myself and with people I work with or need for my work. My stress levels are manageable, thanks to the antidepressant medication I have been taking and my foster cat Mona, but my frustration is at high levels. The demands from us gotta reduce. The aftermath of this lock-down and its effects gotta be considered quite seriously, and risks to people’s not only career progress but also mental & physical health/well-being need to be addressed in any future professional plan.
It is insane. What we are going through.
It is also insane that organizations and some colleagues behave like nothing prickly has been happening, we all adapted with maximum efficiency, everything is going well, remote working is an opportunity and only an opportunity (what?????), and things are moving forward well. All sugar-coated mess.
Since I cannot reduce the quality of the work I do, I reduce the quantity of the work I am asked to do. Many of these are voluntary roles. I say no more often and it feels great. Last week I notified a committee that I was only gonna look at one part of the document, but not the rest, as I have no time. It felt good.
While I had started to say no occasionally in the last few years, it is becoming more “normal” for me. I do not feel guilty or apologetic anymore. Just the other day, a departmental administrative assistant, who was supposed to help me draft a document, gave me directions to draft the document – all format related – and that. was. it.! Did not follow the directions and sent it as I drafted, leaving it to them to figure out whether I formatted it as they wanted, and to format it themselves as they wanted. Honestly, is this my job, too?
No it is not.
Words of compassion. Words of kindness. Words of support.
What needed from leaders is deeds. Walk the talk. Help people go through this difficult time without further damages to our health, abilities, and motivations. Reduce the expectations. Increase genuine support. Have future plans at hand to minimize the long-term effects of this lock-down and frustration. Otherwise, honestly I am not sure who you will find to work – with adequate experience – and expedite things.