Play the Long Game

I promise I won’t blog about the quarantine every day, but this is as new and overwhelming to me as I am sure it is to you, so let’s just all take the time to adjust. It takes as long as it takes.

The university is closed for the semester and, as of today, K-12 are closed indefinitely. Homeschooling my two kids (3rd and 7th grade) will now become a reality. This feels surreal to type and will take some time to sink in.

I have been checking in with my grad students and assuring them that I don’t expect great productivity from them, that these are highly unusual times, and that, first and  foremost, they need to do whatever they need to do to stay sane. I will institute group-meeting check-ins twice a week, less for productivity and more for maintaining group cohesion.

Creative and cognitively demanding work is hard now, with all the anxiety and the kids at home. I’d say if you can do 1-2 hrs/day of this kind of work, you are well ahead of the curve. I’ve been catching up on the backlog of papers to review and my associate editor duties, and sloooowly working on some of my group’s papers. The rest of the time goes on the maintenance of family and my own sanity. (Example: I made a gigantic batch of mushroom risotto. It took forever. If it doesn’t last at least two days, there will be blood. Having rage issues over risotto might be a sign of cabin fever. Or, you know, just my baseline temperament.)

Blogosphere, how are you adjusting to what now seems like it will be a several-months-long new normal? 

Here is a good thread on how to shift mentally and not burn out. Hint: Play the long game. (Below is same thing but in screenshots, because you never know when the threader app discards threads.)



  1. I needed this! Thank you. I’m working on getting to “fifth”. Maybe next week when classes start again.

    Now to see if I can still submit the thing I didn’t submit yesterday because I’ve lost track of days and didn’t realize yesterday was the 18th.

  2. Ok… submitted. Now I really need to do those associate editor things I promised myself I would complete yesterday. Because the Europeans in question are past stage 5 and probably chomping at the bit to get their R&R back.

  3. One of my frustrations right now is that my company, which has been mostly pretty good about responding to this situation, is still acting like we’re going to proceed “business as usual” just with everyone working from home. They are right that we technically COULD do that – we are unusually well set up for working from home. But I don’t think it is really feasible to be 100% business as usual. People with little kids are scrambling to figure out how to make their days work, and even those of us with older kids (or no kids) are dealing with a big change to our routines. Plus we’re suddenly having to figure out how best to get groceries (like you, I started low key stocking up about a month ago so we’re OK for most things, but still need to get perishables and I want to keep stocked now in case it gets harder to shop in the future… but I am in a higher risk group so I also don’t want to spend a lot of time in a crowded store…) and we’re worrying about friends and family.

    I’m doing my best for the situation but that is not my usual level of productivity by a long shot.

  4. @Cloud
    We’ve been pleasantly surprised with grocery delivery/curbside pickup. My sister who lives in a city says that they have long wait times (like for WF you have to order 5+ days in advance) and they’re out of random stuff, which is different random stuff than what my smaller town is out of. But it has still been better than expected, especially for perishables which don’t seem to get bought out as quickly as non-perishable staples. We’ve also made two orders for non-perishables and treats.

    We should probably buy some seed packets…

  5. @nicoleandmaggie – it is next to impossible to schedule delivery here right now and I’ve decided to leave that for the people who really need it. I think I’ll have better luck if I stick with Sprouts (as opposed to the “regular” store) and go at off hours (which I can now, because I’m working from home and the Sprouts is 3 blocks away – and Google maps can tell me if it is busy or not in real time). We are planning to plant some things this weekend, but that is mostly because my 10 year old wants a garden! One thing my husband did early on was freeze what he calls “guac mix,” which is all the non-avocado parts of guacamole. We have a tree full of avocados that are just coming into season….

  6. @Cloud, expect grocery stores to get less busy. Ours were lines out the door on Monday, but almost empty on Wednesday. Shelves were a bit bare on Wednesday (no flour, except weird ones like teff, coconut, and hazelnut; no shelf-stable tofu), but produce and dairy products were normal. Our little corner store was well stocked (I could get the bulk rye flour my wife wanted there, and they were getting in the shelf-stable tofu today).

    I’m in a moderate-risk group (age, but no other conditions), so I’m trying to minimize grocery runs.

  7. For me having time to work is keeping me sane. So i’m hoping I will be able to help my studnets in the same way. Not by having high pressure unreasonable demands, but by giving them little things to do that pull them out of coronavirus crisis/anxiety mode for a few minutes to realize that eventually the world will continue. We’ll see how it goes anyway.

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