This one is for my high-performance type-A friends who are feeling helpless, like every day is a fight to be even a little bit productive.
For the last 5-6 weeks, I have been struggling. Hard.
I recently had a convo with a friend who was also struggling, and it seems like this perspective might be helpful to you too. Here’s what I said when they asked for advice on executing in the face of extreme uncertainty, anxiety, and depression:
First, I’m definitely not an expert, this is new territory for me too. I’ve been working on giving myself grace when sometimes I just can’t work, which is not AT ALL my usual move and I find very hard.
But forcing it isn’t working either. Sometimes I can pick up and finish something small. Sometimes I can’t. I’m accepting the times I can and slowly getting better at letting the times I can’t, slide.
I’ve been telling my team that I don’t expect them to operate at 100% since the first few weeks of the pandemic - it took me a lot longer to internalize the same offer for myself.
Writing and thinking is especially hard, which sucks because that’s most of my job now. Seems easier when I’m not doing it by myself (e.g. when there’s some kind of live feedback loop), but even in those environments I’m not running anywhere close to normal capacity.
I also told my friend:
You are 100% not dysfunctional. This situation is dysfunctional.
I don’t know anybody operating anywhere near normal capacity right now.
It’s a lot harder to actually be kind to yourself, than it is to say it. I’m still trying.
Lastly, here is a tweet I wrote just three days into quarantine. Three days.
We’ve all basically been signed up to run a race that isn’t gonna tell us the distance until after we’ve run it.— Alex Hillman @Home 💛🏡 (@alexhillman) March 20, 2020
Pacing is a key survival trait right now. Be kind to yourselves.
I wrote this to my Twitter followers, but I really was saying it to myself. Turns out, saying it wasn’t enough.
So all of that is to say: I won’t be yet another person telling you to be kind to yourself, because even I didn’t listen to myself.
But I will tell you that you definitely are not alone.