One week into working from home I learned real quick that “what was” couldn’t continue. Suddenly my family became my co-workers. We were thrust into a new life and all we had was old mental models to draw from on how we lived life up until that moment. The life we had built and the patterns we created as a family didn’t work anymore.
A week and a half into this I was standing in my kitchen with my child yelling “mom, mom, mom,” my husband trying to do his best to get dinner ready telling me he can’t find any focus time, and me overwhelmed with feeling like I’m failing all over the place as a wife and mom, a teammate, a leader... and I said everyone just stop. As my husband and child turned and looked at me like I was nuts, I announced a new family motto: We’re going to adopt the mentality that today is an iteration from yesterday, and tomorrow will be better than today. We all took a deep breath and high-fived each other. With his approach, we gave ourselves grace and kindness to figure it out, to solve for now, and not fit into what was.. Because it just didn’t work anymore.
My new reality meant back-to-back-to-back Zoom meetings with lots of to-do’s coming out of them. Prior meeting experiences just didn’t work anymore. I needed to think about solving the problem in a different way: If I was going to get anything done, it was going to have to be in the Zoom meeting itself. So I began encouraging my (actual) co-workers in Zoom calls to work differently. When I went into a Zoom call, I began stating the purpose of why we were meeting and asking my teammates what we wanted to do during our time together. I started to ask people to jump in a tool with me to think through something, instead of asking for permission to work this way... I just shared my screen so we could all collaborate together. My to-do list stopped monumentally growing and I began to feel extremely productive. Fears of disciplines siloing themselves on teams due to WFH limitations (design does this, then engineering builds it, etc.) were mitigated by doing Zoom calls and using Figma or Miro to work as a cross-functional team to solve a problem together. In other types of meetings where we were trying to create something from nothing, peers said, “I cannot believe how much we just accomplished!”
We’re all grieving an old life, a life that will probably never go back to exactly the way it was. I’m challenging you to figure out how to make this work, not triage the situation in hopes that we’ll return to normal soon, but really make it work because who knows when this will all end...
Remember, we’re all doing our best. That is enough. You are enough.