Being busy: Covid-19 is good for capitalism, bad for workers

Sun 7 – Sat 13 June 2020

A large part of this blog was written sitting in Dave’s flat on Saturday with the windows open as it’s muggy. I could hear the constant buzz of helicopters overhead and noise from outside (including sirens) as neo-fascists take to the street looking for a fight – sorry, I mean defending statues. Oh England, what have you become? πŸ™

Doing a good day's work

But the main point of this blog is to reflect how busy I have been with work (as predicted in my previous blog). And how I am increasingly convinced that the Covid-19 pandemic is not going to help improve our work life balance despite so many of us WFH. Fascinating to think that the traditional worry has been that WFH makes skiving easier. Whereas actually now we find it is much more difficult to simply not be always working. And it is even worse for those with caring responsibilities.

Work Life Balance

We are all more than wage slaves

I have always said our lives should not just be defined by work. I hate it when people ask ‘What do you do?’ and your response shapes instantly their view of you as a person. So often we butter this up to ensure they think ‘good’ things about us and make our own dodgy perceptions of people when they tell us ‘what they do’.

I want to enjoy my work and, of course, I want to do a good job – I think most people want this. But we are all defined by more than just work and there are lots of other facets to our lives. It’s like the quotation by Oscar Wilde (supposedly) that no-one’s last dying words were ‘I wish I had spent more time at work.’

When WFH means constantly available

the impact of being busy

It is hard to just stick to part-time hours at the moment. Basically I am identifying a thinking across the working world that if we are all at home and can’t be elsewhere then why can’t things be done now? In theory you can say ‘no I’m not working at the moment’ but then the question is ‘well what else are you doing?’

It’s definitely not just me, I’ve checked with other friends and colleagues who work part-time and they have said the same thing. It’s always been a problem with working part-time and not the cultural norm of full-time. But pre-lockdown you could much easier separate your free time from your work time by physical separation. Work took place in the office or a work space which wasn’t the same place where your free time happened. I used to go to the gym about 3 or 4 times each week and spend lots of time at coffee shops chilling, reading and watching the world go by.

Why I work part-time; my alternative vision

Being so busy with work that other aspects of my life are crowded out was never my plan. If I wanted that then I would have worked full-time. I don’t want to just earn money, buy things, be tied up to pay off debts for years. I have taken a deliberate decision to not sign up to this world view completely. I don’t own property, I don’t have a car, I don’t have kids, I work part-time. My aim is simply to spend the money I have by the time I die and do minimal harm to the planet.

Things ain’t gonna get better

Perhaps things will get better as there are more places to go though beyond just shops would be nice. But it looks very likely that we are going to all be working more at home. And once a genie is out of the bottle then it can’t go back. The expectation of WFH and constant availability will not now disappear.

I’m also noticing the rise of thinking I haven’t witnessed since the very tough times of the 70s, 80s and 90s. That people should be glad they’ve got jobs – ‘there’s lots who would like your job’ – as well as ‘Buy British’ to help the economy. It’s that old thing of there’s always someone worse off than you. True but the flip side is that there is always someone better off than you.

So the Covid-19 crisis (backed by a no deal Brexit) will be good for capitalism: there will be more unemployed and people fighting for jobs to pay the bills. That inevitably means longer hours to keep a job at less pay. It’s a crazy world we live in.

If you think I’m onto something then please read this article about how pandemics help big business. πŸ™

Health and Efficiency

Jog-run

animation of a fat man running

So my jog-run now takes place just once per week because I don’t have the time to do them too frequently and I don’t want to aggravate injuries. So much for my early lockdown plans to go out 2 or 3 times each week to replace trips to my beloved gym.

Did a jog-run on Sun 7th and it was a good one. I ran for what felt comfortable which came in at 4.5 km. A decent time of just over 29 mins and a pace of around 6 & a half mins per km. I’m trying a new type of walk-run warm-up and that seems to be working. I actually got into a very nice head space during my run which was pleasing.

Walking and weight

man weighing himself

I continue to try to walk every day, attempting to reach the steps target on my exercise watch. I achieved a walk everyday last week despite it being so busy. Definitely one of my highlights. This includes very long walks to see mum, listening to Dr Who on the way. However, my weight has crept back up to 13 stone 7.5 pounds. πŸ™

Family and friends

Seeing mum but too tired for bingo

Managed to do another visit to see mum last week. The exercise (an hour and a half of walking each way) and simply catching up with her makes me feel so less confined and claustrophobic than I have done during lockdown. However, I didn’t take part in family bingo on Fri evening as I felt so pressured after such a busy week and I just had to switch off from everything. One of my ways of dealing with stress is to simply switch off from everything and everybody.

Personal Development

Digital Leaders Virtual

One of the best things about last week was that it being the first week of Digital Leaders Virtual. A whole host of webinars to watch. I signed up for several, I couldn’t make all of them as I was simply too busy (unfortunately not even enough time to catch-up with the recordings of the ones I missed). Webinars I did catch covered:

  • Digital youth-working
  • Digital transformation
  • The impact of the Covid-19 crisis and the post-lockdown world

Other aspects of PD

The other main thing was keeping up to date with personal and work emails though the latter went a bit to crap – need to start ruthlessly using the delete button.

And I also continued with my language learning particularly via the use of the Duolingo app (as seen on TV adverts!) Though there was not as much language learning as I hoped due to being so busy with work.

The golden axonites

Great to have a no-agenda catch-up on Tues morning. This time with tech whizz-kid Matt Haworth of Reason Digital. I haven’t been doing PD around developing my tech skills (no WordPress webinar last week) so it was nice to just chat with someone so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about tech.

Books and Reading

Limited progress

Sadly no completion of any books last week – too busy πŸ™ I’m still with the same two books I described last week – one seriously good but weird fantasy book and the other non-fiction about severed heads. Part of the problem is that I like reading before I sleep but last week I was just knacked and I was in the land of nod as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Art and Culture

No progress

Yet another victim of me being too busy with work stuff. My vision of watching some more plays like I had done with Macbeth went to pot. Same with plans to catch up with some movies on BFI. πŸ™ And like the gym, I miss going to concerts.

The Week Ahead

  • Less busy? I hope so. Also it would be nice if I get some TOIL for last week which I can start to use to create some space in my life again.
  • More Digital Leaders Virtual webinars if I have the time to watch. Next week it includes the exciting Digital Agenda Impact Awards celebrating tech innovations that improve people’s lives. πŸ™‚
  • There’s also another WordPress webinar being run by Pootlepress on Tues – a straightforward Q&A about Gutenberg πŸ™‚
  • Will do another visit to see mum walking there and back for exercise πŸ™‚
  • Weekly jog-run on Sun morning – might try running to a time rather than a distance
  • Back to the GP on Thurs to check my INR, hopefully my blood clotting level is OK again
  • Will definitely finish one of my 2 current reading books
  • I want to really push on with my language learning
  • And I really want to have some more art and culture in my life

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