Yet another unfortunate side effect of the global pandemic is the recurring idea that somehow this time working from home is time we should be especially productive. The following bibliography explores why this time should be used for self-care, for a variety of reasons, from the stress of caring for the sick, to helping children with their schoolwork (hilariously discussed in this popular online rant), to assisting our own students in their struggles, while also teaching our classes. These articles all converge around the idea that now is not the time to push ourselves to the limit, but rather to put ourselves in a position to find some peace of mind in a time where that feels impossible.
These readings, from higher education and beyond, began as articles to remind myself that we're not in the middle of an opportunity so much as we're in the middle of an event. As I spoke to more and more colleagues I began to recognize this kind of list might have utility beyond my own needs. I also think many of our students might benefit from being told it's OK to just sit still and try to make sense of things.
"For most people, our minds have not come to terms with the fact that the world has already changed. Some faculty members are feeling distracted and guilty for not being able to write enough or teach online courses properly. Others are using their time at home to write and report a burst of research productivity. All of that is noise — denial and delusion. And right now, denial only serves to delay the essential process of acceptance, which will allow us to reimagine ourselves in this new reality."
"Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure"
Aisha S. Ahmad
Chronicle of Higher Education
"Still, Dionne and others have noted that COVID-19 disruptions will disproportionately affect the careers of female academics given that women, on average, take on more household and child-rearing duties than men. And women already face bias in personnel decisions, especially in certain fields."
"Faculty Home Work"
Inside Higher Ed
"Finally, accept that working from home will not be peaceful—dogs will bark and kids will walk into your workspace. Let your coworkers know this will happen and remember that the same thing will likely happen to many of them."
"7+7 Strategies for Working from Home During COVID-19"
"Newton was able to do what he did not because of where he happened to find himself during the plague but because of who he was—one of the handful of greatest mathematicians and natural philosophers of all time, who, for several years, was able to do almost nothing else with his time but think, reason, and calculate. Against that history, telling yourself as you shelter in place that now is the time to emulate Newton’s ambition is not so helpful. Not because his is an impossible standard (though it is) but because the real lesson is to remember whatever aspect of your life that fired your passion before this mess—and to keep stoking it now."
"The Truth About Isaac Newton’s Productive Plague"
"The work of care, of real meaning, is what we should be concerning ourselves with now. It is not optimized, or “disrupting,” or any of that. It is just essential. Reaching out to offer support to the soon-to-be overworked nurses in our communities, contributing to local funds and efforts to feed and adequately compensate grocery workers, restaurant workers, and others who are working at great risk and may be struggling to put food on the table. We should be offering to make shopping runs for our elders and other at-risk neighbors. This is the essential work that demands our attention now, too."
"Against Productivity in a Pandemic"
"While I have what I need to work from home, I recently realized how important my commute home each day was. That 20-odd minutes from door to door was my buffer. It was time that allowed me to shift modes. It allowed me to forget about the travails of the day and ease back into my personal life."
"Missing That Buffer"
"I wrote the talk. I’ll deliver it from my dining room table this week. It’s not slick. But at least it’s not a fairytale of productivity during societal collapse."
"Not a Fairytale of Productivity"
Anne Helen Petersen
the collected ahp
"And what can I possibly offer, in writing, by way of tonic or solace? This isn’t about writer’s block, because I’m not even trying (unless that’s what writer’s block is, really – the not trying). The intention to write, the possibility of writing, recedes endlessly into the same incomprehensible future."
"I Am Not Reading. I Am Not Writing. This is Not Normal"
"We can also remind each other to take breaks, to reassure each other that it is okay to log out of email once in a while. In my case, I reminded my colleagues to pay attention to nearby Duke Forest, where there are more trout lilies than I’ve ever seen! We need to get outside and breathe deeply of our spring air before pollen descends."
"Wash Your Hands, but Also Take a Nap"
Inside Higher Ed
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