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So, How's Your Year Been?

Pandemic Problems: My body has absorbed so much soap and disinfectant lately, that when I pee, it cleans the toilet

In a blink of an eye and it's almost the end of the year. Christmas is approaching. Mall decorations and the songs they're playing over the radio airwaves are telling us so but it doesn't quite feel like it, does it? 

We entered the year almost in a panic, lumbering our way around a potentially deadly virus while holding onto the hope that it's just another one of those scares that never quite made it to our shores. We kept our ear to the ground and religiously hung onto the words of our Ministers, Health Officials, Government workers, and reporters. We tried to keep calm and most of us did what we had to do to keep ourselves, our family, and our friends safe. 

But here it is....this virus. Hitting not just home but the world over the head. Despite how many movies we've seen about viruses and pandemics, reality is so much harder and real. 

We've been in lockdowns and sub-lockdowns for nearly a year now and there's been so many changes. It's hard to keep count. Getting your head around the concept of just 'returning to normal' seems like just a big deal. 

What is the normal?

We know now, better than before, that exercise keeps us as mentally happy as it does physically (and we took our freedom to do so for granted before). Many people and businesses now realize the importance and critical differences of going digital and utilizing cloud-based services on top of raising awareness about the importance of cybersecurity. 

I've been doing this whole working from home thing since 2000 and it's nothing new to me. I was telling my kids the other day that I felt that the world has suddenly intruded my terrain. Working from home and being told it was not conventional and unsustainable was MY THING. Being looked at like I had grown two horns (at least here in Malaysia where many companies are still brick and mortar) was normal to me. Suddenly, this pandemic threw the rest of the world into the mix with me's strange. 

Nobody really understood me (back then) when I tried to explain how much juggling was involved when working from home but now that everyone's in it, people are beginning to understand. Here are 3 tips to productivity for remote working from distraction experts. I think the tips made sense. 

“Now that a colleague can’t stop by our desk, we have a whole new set of interruptions to worry about,” he tells me. “I call such distractions external triggers — anything from email notifications to our kids interrupting us during work. With coronavirus, all of the external triggers we’ve previously come to expect have now changed.”

Apart from many other things, we've realized how social we're meant to be as humans. 

Being pretty much a homebody family, we've always thrived on being left pretty much to our own devices and alone at home. We're comfortable that way. We don't really need big events, parties, outings, vacations, or celebrations. 

However, during this pandemic, the forced lockdown(s) made us realize that balance is needed. Social contact and maintaining relationships with other fellow human beings is as much a part of living as it is of survival.  

Would we, really, have come this far into the pandemic without helping each other? 

People are beginning to realize how stressful work and raising a family can be during a worldwide health crisis. We're crazy busy all the time and trying to not to lose marbles. 

Admittedly, I've been down this road more times than I care to admit. In fact, I don't even want to think about the extent of which the toll of raising a family and making an income at the same time has taken on me. 

It's a dark road. 

So, that's why this TED talk about simple ways to reduce stress right now (LinkedIn) is a stark reminder to all of us that we need to design to a way to make completing a task or reaching a goal easier, and helping our brains make more rational decisions. 

The people in a hospital's emergency room, the ER, tend to triage, which is to prioritize based on degree of urgency. Work by Dr. Robert Sapolsky shows that individuals who cannot differentiate threat from non-threat and react to everything with the same response have double the level of stress hormones, which is why this is the first skill to learn. You can't take care of them all at once, but you don't have to.

With the year-end approaching, people are already putting together their New Year Resolutions. As always, I will not be one of them. I've only done this once or twice in this lifetime and none of those times were satisfying. In fact, they were demoralizing because I never achieved them. 

But that's just me. You can be different and that's great for you. 

Instead, I want to come up with a year theme. What is next year going to be about? What are we going to focus on the next 365 days as we trudge through the remains of the hopefully subsiding pandemic? How do we deal with its impact and changes it brought about?

Never have we been more reliant on the Internet, mobile devices, and cloud-based services. We don't even carry much cash around anymore because 2020 has introduced (or forced upon) me to cash-less solutions. That's why I have more money in my e-wallet(s) than I do in my real wallet. I tsk-tsk at businesses that don't accept mobile payments. We've relief on internet businesses and social media to find everything from groceries to restaurant reviews. 

The theme for me is 'Revolution'. To me, next year's going to be a year of recovery and revolution. Hopefully, I won't be too far off the mark.



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