How Are You Coping with Pandemic?
November 10, 2020
I thank Steve Jones (blog|Twitter) to allow me to host T-SQL Tuesday #123. The topic for this month is how each of us is coping with a global pandemic. I also want to acknowledge Adam Machanic’s (Blog |Twitter) vision behind this project. I learned a lot from some of the #TSQL Tuesday’s and participated in a few.
First, Let me list some of the things that affected me positively during the pandemic.
I am fortunate to work for a company that I always had flexibility about my hours. I could work from home whenever I needed for family reason. Days I will commute to work will consume almost 3 hours of my time. I would use half of that productively during commuting by train. Plus, I will walk about 3 miles each day I commuted to the office. Early April, when I started working permanently from home, I got that commute time back but lost that 3 miles of the walk. I made a conscious decision to use that time to increase my sleep, exercise, and self-study.
I lost about 13 lbs. in last 6 months.
My average sleep time went to 7+ hours, which normally hover around the range of six.
I was able to obtain 3 Azure certification during this time and working on my 4th one. You can see the details on the Acclaim Website.
I read more books. Educated me more on US history, which I constantly do. I must understand the history of this land if I ought to raise three children here.
Upgraded my home office with a standing desk, two large monitors on arms—better lighting in the office room. I still need a good sound system and some cable management.
I want to thank some of the SQL family members who organized unstructured drop-in chat hours, where you can join and talk about anything. I joined a few of those, and were very helpful.
In 7 months, I gave 31 talks at different user groups, SQL Saturday’s and conferences. I doubt if this would happen if not for the pandemic.
Things that I did not like and took a toll on me:
The worst period since April was the 12 days my mother was in the hospital due to Covid-19. It was an exhausting 12 days. I was blessed with the best siblings in the world. My brother was 24×7 in the hospital with my mother for 12 days (for those who did not travel overseas, I know it can be confusing about staying in hospital 24×7 for helping a patient). She survived and living a healthy life. My wife and I lost a few distant relatives in New York and New Jersey around May.
Isolation. Luckily we came from an overseas trip just before all kinds of travel ban started. We spent time with both of our families, and the children had a blast. Still not visiting friends and families locally, not going to the office started to feel isolated. I also missed local user groups, travel for SQL Saturday’s. I had to cancel SQL Saturday Boston, which was not an easy decision.
I always worked from home 1 or 2 days a week, evenings, and weekends. But continuously working from home when 3 children are quarantined at home brought some challenges that I initially did not know how to adjust to, especially at the start of school in mid-September. It took me some time to learn what I needed to do. Keeping them aware of my priorities and schedule helped. Especially when I have meetings or I am presenting. At the same time, knowing their schedule. What time they are expected to be live with their teachers and their classmates.
Keeping politics aside, racial injustice on top of the Pandemic did not help. Being a person of color, I cannot ignore these incidents. I am trying to educate myself by listening, reading, and watching more. Sometimes I do get depressed knowing some of the dark chapters of our country.
Few things that I did to cope with some of my frustration and anxiety:
- Set expectations with my boss and my team about working hours. I started taking frequent short breaks. If they do not see me online, I told them that I am still available for emergencies. They can call me if things cannot wait till I get online.
- Exercise often. Sometimes just a short walk outside.
- Shorter meetings, even 10-15 minutes, will suffice with what you need. You need to prepare and tell others to come prepared for the meeting. If you get an invite without an agenda, ask for one.
- For recurring meetings, ask the host 2 days ago if anything is pending from me or anything on the agenda that requires a discussion with me. On fewer occasions, I asked if my item can be moved up on the agenda to be done within the first 10 minutes.
- Meet with the team more often but for a shorter period.
- When a single topic requires many emails or teams chat, instantly get on a call and talk about it. Saves time, better experience.
- Keep my desk in a standing position for at least half of my working time.
- Learned to say no, and when to say no.
- Check on other people; even a 2-minute phone conversation can be healthy.
- More family time with board games, movies at home, ice-cream trip (with mask and social distancing), etcetera. Our town library has a drive-thru pick up. Taking advantage of that and pick/drop more often, so kids always have fresh material to read or watch.
- Strict mask and handwashing rules for all family members.