The Lock Down Log: Productivity FOMO

It is appalling that despite having the whole day to myself (with low to moderate work commitments) I have done very little today. The morning began well, as I worked to the ambient sounds of the streets of Kamata (Tokyo), a library, and a cafe. However, as the day progressed, I became anxious, distracted and frustrated. Every ten minutes, I thumbed through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Quite a few on the web concur that the one great thing about being locked down is that there is no more FOMO. It makes a lot of sense. But another kind of FOMO has developed – FOMO of making the most of the lock down days. The apparent source of my anxiety and frustration was that I wasn’t making the most of my lock down days – not just in terms of terms doing productive work but even catching up on films and books.

Well, it’s not just me. Taylor Lorenz, writing for the New York Times, assures me that the feeling is more widespread, “many people are feeling pressure to organize every room in their homesbecome expert home chefs (or bakers), write the next “King Lear” and get in shape.” She tells us this: Stop Trying to be Productive and rather be grateful and appreciate the simple pleasures of life.

Yet I’m torn between the striving for productivity and just being. May be a middle path would be more acceptable to me. Dividing the day into two: one for productivity and the other for simple pleasures and just being.

And just a few minutes back on a call with my friend whining about my dull unproductive day, she reminded me that we should be grateful that we have jobs that pay during the pandemic. That was indeed a soothing thought.

Good night!

PS: I’m self-aware that this blog is uninspiring and boring at present. But I’m going to keep doing this everyday in the hope that something worthwhile might come out of this eventually.

The Lock Down Log: Day 1 (Week 1)

Now is an interesting time to be alive, if one’s employment, financials and health are reasonably secure. I have been meaning to write ever since the 21 day lock down was implemented in India. Only I hadn’t. And then I read The Quarantine Diaries this morning: “As the coronavirus continues to spread and confine people largely to their homes, many are filling pages with their experiences of living through a pandemic. Their diaries are told in words and pictures: pantry inventories, window views, questions about the future, concerns about the present.” These are interesting times and I had to keep a write.

It’s been exactly a week since the lock down was implemented in India and this is what I’ve been up to in the past week:

I have been reading news, research and articles on COVID-19. Nothing too much but just enough to have an idea. I was pleasantly surprised that the models the researchers simulated and the news articles quoted were an application of what I had learnt in a systems thinking course back in b-school. A course I had thoroughly enjoyed. In The World After Corona Virus, Yuval Noah Harari hypothesizes on the new normal post the pandemic – particularly, normalization of state surveillance, social distancing etc. This led me to ponder on more scenarios – would the lock down finally bring in more equal division of labor at home, would WFH become more common, would some parents realize the boons of home-schooling and many more.

As much it is a time of distress and uncertainty, the pandemic and the subsequent lock down has brought forth a series of unintended consequences – bird songs, clean air, empty public spaces being reclaimed by animals, high levels of creativity, Houseparty, some have picked up skills in cooking and baking. I’ve learned to make ‘a nice cup of ginger chai’ – garnished with cardamom. 

With lots of time in hand and with few things to do or places to get to, some of us may indeed come out of this with a greater appreciation of the little things in life.

I had nascent plans for travel around May this year. Alas, we are quite literally reduced to travelling around our own rooms in the coming months. While there is definite philosophical wisdom in travelling around our rooms, we do have avenues to quench our thirst for travel during the pandemic. Reif Larson gives us a masterclass on How to See the World When You’re Stuck at Home. It’s Google Street View. Reif writes about his recent travel with his son “On my computer screen, we pretended to land at the Charleston airport. I provided the narration. We rented our car, which smelled like Twizzlers and a damp pack of cigarettes. On our way out of the airport, Max spotted this T.S.A. Agent dangerously reading and walking by the side of the road. (I like to think she was reading Albert Camus.)” I’ve done arm chair travel through books and films, but I’m yet to undertake a proper journey through Google Street View.

Some evenings are just too fine that we want to take a stroll. Only we can’t now. But I just discovered (courtesy: Reif) that there are walking vlogs on YouTube. It has proved therapeutic for me.  

I figured this was a good time to add to my professional skill set (null set at present). I started learning Python from Dataquest. I’m really glad I stumbled upon Dataquest. I was sold after reading their ‘how to learn‘ article. For someone with minimal background in programming, I’m quite satisfied with the progress I’ve made over the last few days. If you’ve been meaning to take-up Python, I’d strongly suggest Dataquest, their basic courses are free. You can buy me a desert after the lock down.

Of course I’ve been reading. Though much lesser than what I would’ve liked to. I’ve been reading ‘Team of Rivals’ by Doris Kearns Goodwin for over two months now, completed only a third of the 700 pages and we’re just getting to the part when Lincoln wins the Republican nomination for Presidential elections in 1860. I’ve also been reading John Green’s ‘Turtles All the Way Down.’ I’ve been watching House of Cards a little too much.

That brings an end to my first post during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was painfully long as I had to cover whole week. The future daily installments shall be shorter.

Good night!