Barefoot with a dog under my desk, I draft documents, make calls, answer emails, and all from the comfort of my own home. But, is it as great as it sounds? Or, as easy as it looks? I have always been a work-at-work and play-at-home type of person. Historically, society has told us that separation is natural and mentally healthy and the only way to do it. While there have been some outliers, independent contracts, one-man-businesses and startups, for the most part, we have listened to society and respected the brick and mortar.
However, COVID-19 looked at our “only way to do it” and laughed in our faces. Every business has the technology to work remotely from home and within the past few months, most businesses have had to find out if they have the ability to do it efficiently. What that meant for me was three “Can I’s:” Can I adapt outside of my comfort zone? Can I learn new technology? And can I stay self-disciplined?
Can I adapt outside of my comfort zone?
Yes. This was one of those things where I had to just jump in and suck it up.
What this looked like in my family law practice, was in-person motion hearings were now a video conference with the judge in his chambers and my client with me in my office. I wondered how testimony would go from the other side. I was worried about my client seeing all my silly notes I have with me during hearings since he was behind my shoulder in front of my computer. I imagined clients wanting a rehearing or appeal due to this not turning out the way they planned.
I worried about the unfamiliarity with not being on my feet in court like I was trained and like I knew. Even with all of these doubts, my options were to either keep continuing my client’s motions until things opened back up or just jump in and suck it up. So, the trick I had to use was to force myself to adapt. It worked just fine. It was a little awkward, but it was quick, efficient, and I didn’t even have to leave my office to complete a hearing.
Can I learn new technology?
Yes. What new technology meant for me in the above scenario of motion hearings, was Jabber and Zoom video conferencing. I have never used either of things programs. I am within the millennial generation, but I hate technology. I roll my eyes at my computer probably five times a day. However, I am able to read directions and click buttons and that is all learning new technology boils down to. You download it, you play around with it, and then you cross your fingers and wince your eyes shut, praying it works.
Can I stay self- disciplined?
Yes. This one was by far the most difficult of the three Can I’s. I had to get some structure, and I had to be flexible with myself which is a hard balance. I found it helpful to have an absolute deadline to be but-in-chair at my desk. At first, I told myself 8:00 a.m. This quickly failed, so I then told myself I had to be available by 8:00 a.m. but I would not beat myself up if I was still making coffee as long as I was at my desk by 9:00 a.m.
To keep me focused, I created an office space that was separate from the rest of the house. This helped put me in work-mode if I crossed the doorway into my office. I only used my work computer, not my personal computer. This helped me not open browsers for random Googling, shopping, social media, etc. I also found that the more active I was outside of working hours, the more focused I was during working hours.
There were days in the beginning that I was well below my normal productivity levels and I had to be forgiving when I wasn’t on my A-game. COVID and social distancing was mentally difficult for everyone, not just me was a helpful reminder.