Christ & I Love You.
So you now have to work at home unexpectedly due to coronavirus, COVID-19.. That happened to me for a different reason 27 years ago and I’m still working from home.
As a young architect with three children I had to stop working for others and get a paycheck in September of 1992 when the complications of my wife’s health picture required my support beyond what an employer could accommodate. I started the business as my wife entered an out of state hospital. Most of what I thought I knew got blown up in the air. I didn’t choose to work out of the house. I had to. It was very much akin to what many are experiencing now.
Yes, of course, there was fear and panic. At once though, there was a calm at my core as one gets during an intense scene like an accident or a fire when we move, do, and decide well quickly & calmly and then wonder how we did it. I claim this calm to be the presence of Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, and God. I came to know and see that the provider that we have in the end is Jesus, God, and Holy Spirit and that paychecks, employers, parents, and clients are filters of that core provision for us . I hope to share with you the absolute reality of this Provision by Providence for each and every person so as to help you gain confidence that we will weather this immense challenge of COVID-19. If we do our best, open up to the team opportunity with the Light, Love, and Joy of Jesus which is teaming with Light, Love, and Joy for us, and contribute as we can, things will work out.
I’ll also try to give you a few tricks, tips, and hints for working out of the house. I’ll share what and how did I do things as I worked out of the house with the goal of having checks land in the mailbox. The hope is that some of the things I learned may help you navigate your sudden switch to home based work.
1 Murphy Sleeps In and it’s great to develop a Work Wave. One day prior to working from home, I got a ride to work with a neighbor who started work at 6:00 am. I was amazed by how much work I accomplished before the phones starting ringing and the distractions of the day set in. My two hours alone saw me accomplish what might normally take four or more hours. Getting such a slug of work done seems to develop a bit of a wave, some momentum that develops a life of it’s own. You can continue to contribute to this work wave without having to push as hard. You get to ride it a touch. Part of this phenomenon is due to things just don’t seem to go haywire with Murphy’s Law of “everything that can go wrong will go wrong” not really happening in the early morning work. Larger slugs of time with few or no interruptions of course allow for more focus on our part with all of this. We are also fresh, after a good nights sleep and so have greater capacity. It was not my forever schedule, but when things got very busy, and I needed to get a large amount of work out, I would wake at 4:00 am and work until noon. I would then shower and shave and begin to oar in with helping with the kids and other things. In general though, I’ll get a couple or few hours in before the real business day starts and that is enough to get good momentum, or work wave rolling. Think about construction companies. They almost all start early.
2 Rosary Run at Lunch. Most days I am home I try to go for a jog and say a rosary as I go along. This 1/2 or so of cardiovascular workout with good deep breathing midday helps me get the nose off of the grindstone for a bit and so think of other things I may have forgotten about. Of course this helps us generate the good drugs our body makes of endorphins, builds our immunity, sheds stress, and increases alertness for the afternoon. We have morning coffee with all kinds of healthy stuff in it like Tumeric Paste and Coconut Oil. But I try not to run with coffee in the afternoon so I have a good chance at sleeping at night. Battling COVID-19 takes a balance of building immunity and dodging infection. Also, getting the daily exercise helps with gaining a restful night’s sleep.
3 Keep lists. My father often grinned and talked about how Proctor and Gamble issued all new hires a small spiral bound notebook for keeping lists. I now do the notes on my phone that syncs to my computer for list making. My two main ones are the ongoing list and writing list. For the architecture and life in general, my key time to look at and set up the list is Sunday night so as to get ready for the week. I make sure to look at the calendar too as I set this up to see what the week is looking like. I’ll also look at the lists throughout the week to help me see what makes sense to do next. Also, try to keep work things during the work day and house things after the work day.
4 Stand Up Work Station It took me about a half a year to think about this one after I first heard someone advocate for standing up while they work. I eventually did create a standup work station and it took me a couple of months to get used to it. It really does have some benefits. In the old days of architecture, I used to have my back twang on me a few times a year from all the time spent leaning over a drawing table. Unfortunately, that twanging carried on even after switching to a laptop format. With the stand up station being how I primarily work now, there are far fewer twangs of the back. I also find that it helps with alertness and positive mental attitude as well as focus. I’ve also heard there are studies showing we do much better on phone calls from standing. Mine is a hybrid station with a MacBook Pro that gets hooked up to a screen. It allows me to do some work sitting down and of course makes it easy to take my work with me when I go. I have created makeshift standup work stations when visiting my adult kids or even libraries by finding a higher piece of furniture that can make do. I do do some sitting down here and there too for variety while working which is easy due to the laptop base. Including a picture below of my office setup.
5 Keep desktop clear. After running out the door to meetings and forgetting items on my desk a few times, this caused a transformation. I figured that if I kept my desk clear except for the work I was currently attending to, what I saw on my desk as I walked out the door was usually something I wanted to take with me. I find it also calming to not have chaotic pile in front of me. I think there are angels about and I think they like things a bit organized and do try to keep things in general more clear and organized. If there is a way to have a dedicated room for your work, awesome. If you can at least have a regular spot that you go to where you can leave your work set up, that is great. Wherever it is keep it clear and it’ll help keep things clear between the ears.
6 Join Groups like Chamber and Church and Adaptive. When I started 27 years ago, I remained active in church and also joined other groups like chamber of commerce, the American Institute of Architects, and Adaptive Sports volunteering, Obviously we can only do online and on phone and letters for interaction now. Do try to stay looped in and help others to boot.
7 There’s always something to do. Growing up working at Donovan & Fallon Rexall at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire during the Summers first taught me that there was always something to do. Dusting, stocking, straightening product on the shelves, seeing if anyone needed assistance, and being open and aware. For your work or business, there is always something you can be doing to assist Christ in the optimal ongoing Creation of Creation. Don’t wait for be told and spiral down. Pray, be open, and team up to build up. Organizing, networking, simple tasks, hard tasks, new tasks, unknown tasks, risky tasks, and fun tasks. See & seek how you can best help all.
8 Play & Have Fun. Don’t forget to share smiles and joy. Sharing the Light, Love, and Joy of Jesus is the best way for that as we become repeating resources, akin to cell phone repeaters, for Creator Christ. One of the things that I have started doing with all the social distancing is to have fun is combining Chuckit and Hockey. I call it Chuckey in honor of a friend, Chuck Monteforte III who had a scary brush with COVID-19 and is fortunately home and recovering now. So hockey stick and Chuckit ball and a yard is a lot of fun for dog and me. I just do a light jog. So much variety for tossing the ball and he loves the stick handling. Inspiring picture just after a Chuckey session below. 😉
9 Rest. As you get into a rhythm eventually of day, week, and month, be sure you do take time to rest. I follow the Lord’s Day directive and never do business on Sunday. I seek to rest, reflect, worship, pray, and praise that day. Our Church, Saint Katherine Drexel in Alton, New Hampshire, has online Mass for the duration of the social distancing: https://www.stkdrexel.org Although there are other ways to heaven, solidly synced with Christ is the highest & best root route. The Roman Catholic Church is the continuous connection, and in fact is literally, The Body of Christ. There are so many online resources and my favorite is to do a watch of replay of Easter Vigil. We saw one from 2019 at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Washington DC yesterday.
10 Help. See how you can help others. I heard a great interview with Jason Kuhn of Stonewall Solutions who spoke of going through chaotic situations in battle and skills learned to do this. One of the key things he shared on an interview on New Hampshire Today with Jack Heath was to focus on helping others. This is a key route to dodge despair and panic. It works to help you work. Link to interview.
11 Forgive. I attended a seminar one time by a trainer of executives. His key point was that the good execs do not expect perfection and are wise enough to know that when someone is batting .300 they are doing pretty good. My father, God rest his soul, was a consumer products exec. One of the oft repeated pearls of wisdom from him was that when things go wrong, do not scorch the person. Find out that went wrong, seek to develop protocols that will help them to not recur, and move on. Hoops and hurtles are given. We become more valuable as we cheerfully, nimbly, and ably navigate these hurtles. Teaming with others in your family and business and helping each others through this lively current course is how to arrive to the other side while breathing fully on the ride. Smiling is OK too.
12 Late Afternoon Meetings. When I can schedule meetings for the day to be 4:00 or after, I do. Early morning until 3:00 or 4:00 is prime production time for pushing out drawings and other tasks of architecture for me. At 3:00 or 4:00 I have the feeling of accomplishment pretty solidly built up with a Work Wave and body of work for the day and so it is easy to get the nose off the grindstone and do more big picture pondering with broad spectrum vision that are good for meetings from mid afternoon on.
13 Love. Those who are tuned in to Christ and those not universally have affinity for 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 promoting faith, hope, and love. Love is what is really known and the root of it is to be sure that you know your are Intensely Loved. Know you are Loved. Love your work. Love your family. Love your peeps. Love all peeps.
14 OnVine. Many of us in working from home are working online from computers and devices. Computers and devices are much more capable when online. Of course as things are headed, computers and devices are becoming more and more dependent on cloud based storage and software. We likewise are much more capable when we realize our need for Creator Christ, God, and Holy Spirit and that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches and so go OnVine. Incessant is the Love, Desire, and Want for us by our Brother Jesus. Once we open up to this Torrential Waterfall of Love for us, then we want to seek to follow God’s Guidance and so graft ourselves into full communion OnVine with the Root of Jesse, The Vine, Jesus, The Christ. It’s a life long growth amidst the Gushing, Growing, Gorgeous, & Powerful Love Lavished on us. We become pilot and co-pilot, operator and co-operator.
15 Open & Asking. Joyful & Cheerful. Build Each Other Up. This ditty has been came to me at a prayer group a few years ago. I have found some similar verses such as be joyful in all things. I think this ditty helps us optimize our time together always, but particularly in the close quarters of everyone at home.
16 Perspective. In architecture school we were taught to look at things from different angles and by different means so as to see things afresh and discover new opportunities. We normally have lots of change of perspective with traveling to a place of work and other normal travel that we don’t get so much of right now. So try to find other ways to get perspective. One thing I did was once an hour I would take a break and just walk around the house for four or five minutes. It’s amazing all the things you think of when the nose is off the grindstone.
Romans 8:28 “We know that by turning everything to their good God co-operates with all those who love him .. ” Jerusalem Bible 1966
I Love you and so does Jesus, God, and Holy Spirit along with Mother Mary, Saint Joseph, Saint Monica, Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine, Saint Thersa of Avila, your Guardian Angel, all the Holy Angels, and all the Holy Saints.