Personal Update - Finding My North Star

Personal confession: These times have gotten me turned upside down. The first three weeks of shelter-in-place has been a dumpster fire for me.

The first week included shutting down the office, backing up all the computers and storing them in the large office safe, reconciling the office books, and sending everyone home.

The second week had me scrambling and trying to set up the kid’s online learning situation and being a miserable mess needlessly checking social media. I spent hours communicating with friends via WhatsApp and whatever messaging platforms. We’re trying to reassure each other and attempting to look cool and confident while melting down inside like a big pile of doggy mess,

In the third week, I finally mustered up the courage to blow up my OmniFocus projects and tasks and committed to a complete Mind Sweep and Purge. Many tasks have been assigned my :sun_with_face: After COVID tag. Current projects have been shuffled into my Someday folder or altogether deleted. Then I start up my new projects that suddenly gained importance in life now.

I thought I would have time to do everything now that I’m a stay-at-home dad. But that didn’t happen. I’ve seen blog posts tell me to accept the situation and just let the feelings run through. But I thought I was supposed to be the stoic, heroic figure and soldier on. Meh… My emotions run wide and deep. I’m glad I was able to get past the first couple of weeks. My yard work is still unattended, my writing ideas have stewed in my Ulysses app for a while. All the dreams of full speed ahead on my projects have blown right by me. And I think I’m OK with that. Reading this WIRED article might give me the permission to forgive myself for not being as productive as I thought it should be.

I’d like to say I’m the most productive person now that I have all this time for my work. But that’s not the truth. My identity was wrapped around my work and all the productive results I’ve created at work. Now, I’m slowly finding my new identity once again in a new world. I’ve never been fired from a job but I think I know what it feels like now. I’ve resigned from a job to chase new dreams. Maybe I’m resigning from my pre-COVID-19 life and striking out on my own once again? I dunno. But I think I’m starting finally feel liberated and looking for opportunities to find my new identity.

How has everyone done in this new world? Did your life turn topsy-turvy in the last month? Have you re-oriented yourself with a Mind Sweep to clear off all your current work? Have you found your new North Star yet?

I think I found the general direction of my North Star after getting disoriented in the last 30 days. I’m still calibrating it but I’m finally setting course in a new world. My intentions are clear now. I’m moving forward.

Hopefully you’ve been able to get a clear mind and clear heart to keep moving forward!

P.S. I’m looking forward to listening to the new ERW podcast. Can’t wait!

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I’m glad to hear you’re finding your rhythm. I’m definitely going to check out that article – I think we’re finding that our idea of “productivity” was too short-sighted. We need to manage our entire lives (self, relationships, work, hobbies, household, finances, etc.), not just work tasks or just staying busy. This crisis has definitely brought that among other things to the surface.

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Unfortunately (or fortunately- a matter of perspective) I have been in strict lockdown since 16th March and I find myself working endlessly. Maybe occasionally 16 hours and always saying to myself to stop but carrying on. It is because people in the middle of the ocean seem to need my help/assistance more than required or I think they do since crew changes are not allowed and people have to stay longer onboard. They are safe as they can be on a ship in the ocean but there is a lot of strain as they are away from their families for a prolonged period. On top of that I worry endlessly about my parents because if they get this damn thing it will kill them for sure.

On another note the good thing is that I had trouble delegating before COVID and now every after Microsoft Teams meeting I delegate much more effectively and people have taken accountability of their jobs and tasks.

Needless to say I find myself talking on the phone more than when in the office but at the same time I am Time Blocking and find some Focus Time as well (have started utilising a Focus tag in Omnifocus).

Trying always to think for a side hustle. I am brainstorming with potential partners but seems everything has become an after COVID venture. Am I the only one to believe that 2020 will end on a good note?


Wow… 16 hours! Thank you for doing your best to support the people in the middle of the ocean.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself. We can pull 16 hours shifts every once in a while but we’ll need to recharge. When we recharge and gather strength once again, we can head back out an do the difficult work. I’ve been learning to hit some fiction books and TV shows that have been piling up recently. I felt guilty for not taking care of more serious business but sometimes I have to step away from the chaos and lighten my mood. Taking care of ourselves is probably the best thing that can be done. We can’t take care of others unless we take care ourselves first.

I guess the only form of support you can give both your parents and the crew will be constant communication. I’m sure the crew and your own family will be happy that there’s even one person that is checking up on them. ’

Good for you! Delegating is a learned skill. The art of delegating takes time and gets easier after the first few dozen attempts. I was also timid and unsure of how to ask for help or to assign it to the right person. I used to think that I had to take the assignment because I didn’t want to look like an idiot who didn’t know what I was doing. I’ve learned to accept that it’s OK to say I don’t know how to do something but I will declare that I will find the right person to help me. I’ve felt much better knowing that I can delegate to someone else who has the time or skill levels capable of handling the assignment. I often follow up to see the results and see what they did. This gives me a better idea of what to do next time.

It’s interesting how our life and workflow changes from situation to situation. Remote work sure has its challenges. We might even find new workflows that will help us. Heck, I think that some companies might allow more of us to work from home for at least part of the week and can reduce overhead cost of having an office workspace. I’m glad to see you’re sharpening your Focus Time/Time Blocking skills.

If the world can get through 2 world wars, various natural disasters, and all kinds of plaques from past history, I’m sure we’ll see 2020 end on a much better note than what we are experiencing today.

Keep brainstorming for something! You might just find a new venture for times like this. good luck!


I guess I am on the other side of the spectrum. I have no kids or elder persons to take care of, I am keeping my job for now and I am able to telework with no problems and I am confined in a bug enough house with a garden and exercise equipment I can use, so it’s the perfect setting for this occasion.

Cooking and house cleaning have emerged as new tasks I don’t usually do, but had no problemas accomodating them in my weekly schedule. I save 2 hrs a day commuting time, so that balances those new items.

Remote enabling equipment & sw has revealed itself better performing than I expected in this peak internet traffic situation, and works fast and reliably in my context.

Interestingly, punctuality and attendance have soared in meetings (no excuse to not attend, plus making extra efforts to display you are working, I guess) and they are done faster and to the point. Also, network activity in our corporate VPN reflects clearly we are all meeting our working schedules as agreed.

Viedoconferencing with friends was funny the first weeks, but I guess I we’re all getting a bit tired of seeing windows all day long, and live TV shows have also migrated to videoconferencing, which is a bit too much for me.

Thanks for the Wired article, it has some interesting insights on the ‘work therapy’ many of us use when feeling anxious.

So, on the whole, for my particular case this has not been so far a game changer for my priorities and productivity, except a good practical demonstration that, given the right conditions, teleworking is perfectly viable for many of us knowledge workers, and people don’t seem to need the boss’ face to meet their duties.


I think it’s going to end on a good note too! I try to stay hopeful but realistic as well. It has to end well in my mind :slight_smile:

What kind of side hustle are you looking at pursuing?

Yeah the Zoom fatigue is real. It’s been a bit of a bummer to see interest in that drop off since it’s largely the only means of staying connected in a lockdown. But if people are doing ok that means we’re adjusting to the new normal. Not a great thing but at least we can adapt.

Very much my same experience — I do have kids but they’re young enough to not really go to school much, so we’re doing life as normal minus being able to go to stores, the park, etc.