It's Okay to Do Nothing
If there is one thing I don’t like doing - it’s nothing.
I’ve never been good at it. While I’m miles away from the “hustle porn” ways that are unfortunately pervasive within the tech industry, I’ve always had a natural work ethic and a desire to do more. My near-anathema towards inaction, no goals being set forth or something to solve has served me well in my career.
But right now, I just can’t. And if you can’t either, you should know that you don’t have to.
It’s something I’ve been having to remind myself. Not even a few hours ago, I retreated to my bathroom, closed the door and buried my head in my hands. I felt defeated - it was 9:00 a.m. and just couldn’t get anything started.
Typically, my work day would’ve started hours ago. But between (literally) spilled milk, a diaper change, breaking up a fight over a kickball, making another bowl of cereal because a sibling got jealous his brother had one and he didn’t while also getting myself dressed and somewhat fed - I found no ounce of down time.
When I look at my goals for the year, they stick out like a sore thumb and, now, produce a stark juxtaposition of priorities and unrealistic expectations when faced with the current world wide pandemic. I’m dutifully staying home, as I’m sure most of you are, and within these walls are my entire life:
My wife, Bennett (age 6), Remy (age 3) and Baylor (1 year old).
Our days are spent almost entirely spent in our 1100 square foot home with three bedrooms. In many ways, I feel thankful and lucky to have this extra time with the people I care most about it.
But when it comes to work, and getting things done - I nearly can’t. And it bothers me, but I’ve come to accept that this is simply where things are at. Even more so, it’s the definition of “out of my control”. Either Remy is banging on my bedroom door screaming because he doesn’t understand why I can’t come out to play, or Bennett wants help with school work or Baylor wants me to hold her - I’ve come to realize that parenthood doesn’t give you a pass just because the world is on fire.
So, I’m doing the best that I can. And some days, it’s nearly nothing. On those days, I continually count my blessings to offset my mood. I work for an amazing company and team who truly are sympathetic to not only my situation, but everyone across the team. They’ve got my back, and I’m truly grateful for it. My wife, who does this every day (pandemic or not) keeps us all together and chugging along.
And, in between these moments, I find time to write code. And someday (who knows when) I’ll have time to write more of it.
But right now, Xcode is getting a breather more often than not. And while it does, I’m going to take my own deep breath, be a great Dad and husband - and give my employer all I can, when I can. Some days that’s not a lot, some days it’s a little bit more than yesterday and very rarely it’s quite a bit.
So if your productivity is taking a hit, and you’re a little stressed about it - please know that there are many of us feeling that burn along with you. Spend Stack can wait, blog posts can wait, learning new things can wait - it all can wait. Your employer will hopefully know that some work will have to wait, too. But taking care of myself, my kids and wife cannot.
This is nothing that Twitter hasn’t already said, but maybe you needed a reminder today. We will put COVID-19 in our rear view mirror someday. Humanity has defeated several forms of sickness before, and we will do it again. But this is not normal, and your throughput won’t be normal.
Just a take a breather, know that better days are on the way and please remember; it’s OK to do nothing. Right now, some days it’s all you can do.
Until next time ✌️.