My COVID-19 Diary: Is there cheese?

How are you doing with your routine as you work from home?

The other day I paused and found myself doing all of the following things at the same time:

Checking emails

Slicing vegetables for dinner

Responding to an email

Checking Facebook

Cutting an apple for my daughter

Checking Twitter

Making a cup of coffee

Moving laundry from the washing machine into the dryer

Watching Andrew Cuomo on TV yelling about ventilators 

Writing a memo to staff

Writing a blog post, this post actually

I have discovered that I am doing everything and nothing at the same time.

For years I’ve read articles about protocols to follow when one works at home. Sure, I read these articles,  but I never thought it would happen. I’m a middle school principal, what am I gonna do, have all those kids come to my house? I never once thought I might be working at home. But that’s what I’m doing now.  I have to admit, if I had envisioned myself doing this, I probably would have imagined myself liking it more than I do. 

I wonder if it’s denial. 

I keep thinking that our superintendent (Hank, great leader!) is going to call me and say,  “All right Don, we’re back in business. Come on in. Email the lunch menu. The buses are rolling.” This uncertainty has stood in the way of my giving in to the new routine (see, I’m not even willing to put in writing the phrase “new normal“).  Well, the first step in recovery is acceptance. Even if Hank calls us in tomorrow, I need to make the most of today.  

Here’s one trick that’s working for me:  “Twenty minute sprints”.  

Set the timer on your watch, or on your microwave, or,  say out loud, “Alexa, set a timer for 20 minutes.”   Work on the same task for 20 minutes. When the time is up, one of three things have happened: 

  1. You’re done. Start a new task, Reset the timer.  
  2. You’re not done.  Reset the timer. Continue working.
  3. You lost your focus, for 17 minutes you looked at Twitter and checked your fridge for cheese.  Scold yourself and reset the timer. Try again (you’re still a good person) [or go out and get more cheese, then reset the timer].  


I didn’t invent this strategy, but I’m having success with it.  I envy people who are able to create daily schedules and stick to them. But everyone has to find their own routine. What works for you might not work for me.  Don’t do everything and nothing at the same time. Find your process. 

What’s your best “work from home” routine?  Please share.

About dfgately

Middle School Principal Jericho, NY
This entry was posted in Best Practice, Leadership, Personal Best, Random Thoughts, Reflections, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to My COVID-19 Diary: Is there cheese?

  1. Carolyn Clarke says:

    I will try this! Funny thing a neighbor of mine would say the same thing “just take 20 minutes and move on to the next task”. I would be admiring his beautiful yard and garden and I’d ask him how do you it. Enjoy the day. Carolyn

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