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But this will only take 20 minutes!

But this will only take 20 minutes!

 29 Jul 2020  |    Alysha Punja

7:00 am. Just another Monday. I wake up to the not so pleasant sound of my alarm (after hitting snooze more than just once). Time to roll out of bed, workout, shower, eat, and head to work. Except wait, this is no longer a regular Monday. While my morning routine is the same, there’s no office to head to for the moment. My morning struggle with Bangalore traffic is now reduced to the few steps between my bed and desk before work begins.

While the hustle and bustle remains, it’s no longer the sound of ideas and opinions being exchanged amongst colleagues but rather instructions being given to the cook or household chores being assigned. Is my name included in this list of assignees? Most often the answer is yes. As a millennial who lives at home, adapting to this new way of remote working has had its challenges. The toughest one being, getting my family to understand that sitting at my desk with a laptop does really mean I’m working.

You’d think drawing boundaries is as simple as shutting your room door but it's not. Each request is presented as requiring no more than 2 minutes of my time. But these 2 minutes add up, and before I know it, I’m teaching my grandmother how to respond to Whatsapp forwards when I should be working on a business report instead. Why do I find myself in this position more often than not? Well, for the simple reason that my family doesn’t believe that they are distracting me from ‘work’. Their definition of work is waking up, dressing formally, and heading to an office for a day filled with paperwork and meetings. In contrast, my routine of waking up, working out, and sitting at my desk in slacks doesn’t satisfy their criteria. They fail to understand that the mountains of paperwork and meetings are now all packed into the virtual world of Google docs and Zoom calls.

While I happily enjoy that extra hour of sleep every morning and the unfettered access to my mother’s kitchen, I am now faced with a new set of distractions. How to say no to what seems like a perfectly reasonable request?

What do those 2 minutes really cost me in terms of my own productivity? Is it really just 2 minutes? Indulging in these 2-minute distractions has changed the way I work. I no longer have clear demarcations between work and personal time. My usual 9 to 5 is now slightly longer, peppered with minor distractions throughout the day. Which is better? I can’t say for sure. While I definitely miss the structure and routine of heading to the office, I also value the safe and supportive environment I’m provided at home.

So as the uncertainty of this pandemic continues and we settle into this ‘new normal’ for the foreseeable future, I hope to bridge this generational gap at home and finally regain some work-life balance.

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