Norway responded to the Covid-19 pandemic on March 11 with broad restrictions and preventive measures. On March 13, my employer, the University of Oslo was closed for all students and staff which is not necessary for safety and security. Everyone who does not serve a critical role in society is to work from home, and those who have been abroad from February 27 onwards, have to go into quarantine for at least 14 days. So: as of March 11, I have had ‘home office’ and as of March 12, I have been in quarantine at home.
Today, on Twitter, Remi van Trijp coined the neologism “procoronastinate”, meaning “Not being able to concentrate/work because of the coronavirus” in his tweet while sharing an article in the BBC’s Worklife section on “Why procrastination is about managing emotions, not time.” – Yes, this is exactly what has been happening to me. Even though I have an actual office/guest room at home, had brought my work laptop, have stable WiFi, a high-quality microphone, extra screen, and whatnot and no children, cats, or dogs to care for, I was not able to get anything done. My motivation was non-existent, I was feeling easily irritable and frustrated, not able to focus, let alone work! I am not afraid of contracting the Coronavirus, and I am not afraid of society breaking down. But I have never been in a remotely similar situation in my life, I have no experience to draw on, no frame for understanding what is going on.
Instead of working (or reading something), I found myself feverishly checking Twitter – my only Social Media platform – and the websites of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the Norwegian Ministry of Health for up-to-date information about what is going on, what to expect, what I am allowed and not allowed to do. I hit the refresh button in the browser constantly, checked emails, messenger apps. There was no panic, no drama, no one in my family and friend circles who is immediately threatened, but I could not let go.
Since then, a couple of days have passed, and I am slowly, very slowly, settling into the new situation. I’ve had a remote meeting with my colleagues from work, I’ve set up a couple of remote meetings with the StudyGroup I am part of, and I am looking forward to joining a webinar and a virtual Stammtisch in the next few days. I have also started doing “office-stuff”, nothing big or important, but some Zotero maintenance, replying to emails, cleaning up my Desktop and Downloads folders, etc. Small things, but it felt good to get something done, small accomplishments, progress.
This is only Day 7 of the Covid-19 restrictions, and it might be weeks, or even months of mainly doing work from home, remotely, and with reduced physical contact with friends and colleagues, going out and being around people. I want to try taking care of myself: taking it a day at a time, doing what I feel like doing, rather than trying to get as much as possible done. Let’s see how this will turn out. I am optimistic: All will be well, eventually.
See you all on the other side! Stay safe and #stayhome!