Maybe like me, you’re finding it harder to get traction these days.
Since entering lockdown mode, my days are narrow and familiar, but at the same time, different and undependable.
The footholds I counted on to scale my day have given way. In place of a reliable routine are last-minute Zoom meetings, round-the-clock emails, willy-nilly walks, and family meals that resemble cows grazing in the field with all of us nibbling from the refrigerator at whim.
One day flows into the next, and entire days have changed personalities. Lazy Sundays look like hectic Wednesdays. The glee I usually feel on a Friday afternoon gets tempered by another quiet night at home.
Call this no man’s land of calendar time, Blursday.
It’s a pandemic phenomenon that’s not only the result of upended personal schedules but of an entire society turned topsy-turvy. Cultural cues that keep us on track—morning rush hour or a Saturday night out—have been replaced by a shelter-at-home timelessness that’s now morphing into a patchwork re-opening of cities, counties, and states.
In place of a reliable routine are last-minute Zoom meetings, round-the-clock emails, willy-nilly walks, and family meals that resemble cows grazing in the field with all of us nibbling from the refrigerator at whim.
Those going into work are entering workplaces that have become more structured and rule-based. But, there too, unfamiliar protocols combined with long hours create Blursday. Others have lost jobs, and along with the lost income goes the lost framework they provided. School has become an early, shapeless summer vacation for many kids and teens.
Blursday can leave us feeling unmoored and spacey. Mid-way through a rare grocery shop, we can realize we left our wallet at home. (True story.) Bills don’t get paid on time, and household chores lose their cadence. The other night, I cleaned the toilet 10:45 p.m. Who does that?
Alternatively, Blursday can make you feel dizzyingly productive and overwhelmed. With less structure, work has more capacity to ooze into every crevice of life. It’s like Gak—that slimy goo children love, but adults hate.
Either way, we can wind up blaming ourselves, lamenting a lack of motivation, or feeling guilty for working too hard and not spending quality time with family or taking care of ourselves.
There are practical ways to cope with Blursday (which, by the way, isn’t our fault).
How to Cope with Blursday
1.Getting dressed in something other than sweatpants and making your bed in the morning gives you a sense of accomplishment that propels productivity the rest of the day.
2. Setting boundaries around when you’ll stop working if you’re working from home—i.e., not checking email after 8 p.m.—helps you reclaim the sanctuary of home.
3. Looking at the calendar or your planner, even if it’s too full or too empty, reorients you and creates an impression of normalcy.
4. Being mindful and becoming more aware of what scaffolding you need to erect in your day, whether it’s starting work at a regular time each morning or routinely taking an evening stroll, is eminently helpful.
I’ll also suggest a mindful reframe of Blursday. No matter how disorienting, not being so tethered to date and time grants us more freedom to live in the moment. Clock time is just an externally imposed illusion anyway.
How many times have you eaten breakfast at 8 a.m. even though you weren’t the least bit hungry? And what’s wrong with scrubbing the toilet at 10:45 p.m.?
Maybe the best approach, at least for now and if we’re able, is to follow poet Mary Oliver’s advice and “let the soft animal of your body love what it loves”… whenever it loves it.
No matter how disorienting, not being so tethered to date and time grants us more freedom to live in the moment. Clock time is just an externally imposed illusion anyway.
Work-life balance has been out the window for years anyhow. In vogue is “work-life harmony” where work isn’t compartmentalized but, for better or for worse, flexibly integrated into the day. If going for a run at 11 a.m. recharges you, and you can make up lost time working after dinner, have at it. Scenarios like this will likely become common as more of us work from home.
As we emerge from shelter-in-place orders, whatever new routine we adopt won’t be like the one we had. There’s no going back. Given that, relying on intuition to craft a just-right rhythm to our day is a kinder, gentler way to go—even if we don’t know what day it is.
Poet Maggie Smith has been offering words of pandemic wisdom via Twitter https://twitter.com/maggiesmithpoet?lang=en to inspire and shine a light on our shared experience. Maybe you feel a bit like she does when she writes:
“I feel like I live on a small, remote island and there are no more fairies running. Sometimes, I wonder if I dreamed the mainland.”