A few weeks ago Daniel Kaufman, one of the members of our team, had the idea of sharing a behind the scenes look at what each of us is doing during this unique season. He created a set of interview questions for each us, and here are my answers. If possible, we’ll have interviews with Daniel and James coming up.
How has the current pandemic affected your work habits?
I much prefer to be in the office, and then working from home maybe one day a week if possible to focus on large projects. But there are two main ways I’m aiming to make the most of this.
First, I’m trying to get more rest and sleep. Because of not having a commute, I feel less pressure to do extra work in the evenings. I try to take that time to relax more and get rested (though I don’t always do that). I think this will have long-term benefits after things are back to normal.
Second, I’m able to make more progress on some large, long-term projects I’ve been working on. These projects involve lots of writing and development of systems, which is hard to do when you have more interruptions.
What one piece of advice would you give to people who are suddenly having to work from home?
Lots of people right away say to make a schedule and respond quickly to emails from your boss so they know you are working. While those things may be important, they fail to take advantage of the new paradigm that working from home creates.
Working from home saves time in two big ways: no commute, and less in-person interruptions. Now, not all in-person interruptions are bad. I think they are an important part of what makes work human and effective, actually. However, the reality is that now you have less of them.
So you need to take advantage of this extra time created by increasing your professional development. Invest the extra hour a day, or something like that, to intentionally get better at the skills required by your job. That could look like taking some online classes at Skillshare or Coursera or Udemy, or self-directed learning.
I would especially recommend that everyone learn about management. Many who are managers never received training; and those who aren’t in management now may be one day but, even if that is not the case, everyone needs to know what good management practices are so they can be supportive of them. The best book on management is Marcus Buckingham’s First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently.
Have you been able to get to anything that was on backlog prior to this?
Yes, I am spending a lot of time getting backlogged projects completed, which is one of my favorite things.
How does your view of the gospel affect your productivity during this time?
My view of the gospel is leading me to think hard about what the best strategies are to minimize the spread of the virus and help America get back to work. Someone might say that’s just for government leaders to care about. However, the NT was one of the first ancient documents to acknowledge that all people are equal, and it is the gospel which brought that truth into new focus.
Because all people are equal, that leads to the concept of self-government—which we have in America. This means that every citizen has a duty to think hard about our government policies and cultural strategies for dealing with large problems. This is a right and duty we all have, and society is better when everyone is exercising their critical thinking.
How does the call to love people look different when working remotely from home?
Working from home brings a unique opportunity to give more time to important but not urgent tasks. I think loving people well in this time means making sure we take initiative to make progress on those tasks, and not let our extra time simply be taken up by more email and Zoom meetings.
Be deliberate about where the extra time you now have available goes. It is easy for that to be taken by new kinds of urgency, or the wrong-headed value of instant responsiveness (unless you are literally in a customer service position). The projects with long-term value that no one is pressuring you to do–those are often the way to make the biggest impact in people’s lives and in your work. So protect the time to identify and do more of those projects.