Pandemic Year 1
A year ago today when our director told us to grab our things and work from home, I told myself there’s no way this could possibly last a whole year! Silly me!
It was a real struggle at times, but I guess I survived. I know I’ve shared more emotional responses in a previous post and many times on Twitter, however I thought it would be interesting (maybe fun?) to look back at some (positive?) changes, observations and reflections regarding the past year. So here goes, in no particular order …
- Alcohol - I definitely enjoy a good cocktail and I for sure thought I would drink a lot more, but the exact opposite happened. It may have been the feeling of depression earlier or perhaps I wasn’t impressed with my reserve, but my overall alcohol consumption dropped drastically. No regrets though, I don’t think it was all bad. And recently in the past 2-3 months I’ve begun taking a few more sips but otherwise I’ve been rather dry.
- Random tidbit: Comparing to the previous year, money spent on drinks dropped 97.4%
- Sleep - My sleep patterns were just a crazy roller coaster ride. There were weeks I would wake at 5am sharp without any explanation. And there were several months where I never needed an alarm clock. Lately I’ve made some tweaks and found that slightly later bedtimes gives me more regular (and a bit more satisfying) sleep. I’m happy to say that I seldom feel drowsy during the day.
- Random tidbit: After a great deal of tracking and experimentation, my approximate ideal sleep duration is 7.5 hours.
- Routines - I’ve had many women in my life tell me that I’m quite regimented. Perhaps in some of those instances that may have been an underhanded compliment, but I’ve found that I’ve thrived on routines and schedules through the pandemic. Other than a few breaks/holiday periods, almost every hour of my 7 day week has been fairly identical. In many cases down to the minute. Sure sleep and occasional pandemic fatigue would mess things up but the faster I got back to the routine the better I would feel.
- Snacks & Food & Dinners - I’ve always been terrible at snacking. Even when I want to eat something I might forget and then just wait for the next meal. This was bad at the start of the pandemic. I originally thought I was eating more at first, but as it would turn out, I’m still within 1 lb of my pre-pandemic weight. It could be the drop in alcohol or increase in fruits. Not sure. … As for dining, I’ve never really ordered food (other than pizza) my entire life, so this was new. I’ve been ordering food to support the local economy but honestly between late deliveries and cold food, I much rather eat home cooking or just wait to dine-in again.
- Random tidbit: Comparing to the previous year, money spent on dinners dropped 73.2% (mind you pre-pandemic that was all dine-in)
- Exercise - This has also been a bit of roller coaster. While I did stick to the same number of hours of working out each week, I kept experimenting with different activities/exercises (outdoor when possible). I honestly had no idea what I was doing (too many bad YouTube suggestions) but I felt okay as long as I kept moving. I’ve somehow arrived at some variation of circuit training that I’m satisfied with. I finally got around to buying some quality equipment and I’m already feeling the positive effects of a more serious workout.
- Video Games - I thought I’d treat myself to playing video games. It was fun for a minute, but its been weeks since I’ve picked up the controller. I do want to play more and just have some mindless fun, but I guess I’m just not wired for video games. (Some games are still in their wrappers for 6 months)
- Driving - I’ve been lucky to have worked close to my home for the past few years, so my driving has always been low. (People who know me know that I never really liked driving in the first place). For the entire pandemic year, I only drove outside of Ann Arbor a total of 4 times. And the most frequent place I visited was to spend time with my mom.
- Random tidbit: Comparing to the previous year, the amount of miles spent in my car dropped 60%
- Streaming - I lost a great deal of interest in watching TV over the past year. I won’t go into the causes, but the end effect is that I just watch a lot less mainstream content. It took me forever to go through some popular shows on Netflix and HBOMax that interested me. I did do a month of Disney+ and after Hamilton and some other hyped movies, I decided I would never make it through all the MCU and Star Wars content. I still have a year of Apple TV+ that I haven’t watched (and expiring in 5 months). I did however find myself watching way more YouTube. Initially it was just from researching things, but soon after I realized it was nicer watching something short and simple that isn’t part of a multi-series/multi-season epic story. I still want to watch some of those epic things, but they’ve just become super low priority.
- Writing - I have been writing a little more. Some personal things. I finally started using my Moleskine (that I bought in 2010). In fact, I bought quite a few colored pens and just started writing all sorts of things down. Somehow seeing these tiny tidbits on paper in different colors makes me feel more productive. Even the conclusions from trivial items I’ve researched end up there. It’s bizarrely satisfying.
- Finances - I’ve been fortunate to have had little to no financial impact from the pandemic. Looking back at my expenses, I’ve spent less on everything, with the only exception being Amazon. And even that was marginal. I couldn’t explain my reduction in grocery costs other than eating a little less and perhaps having more of my mom’s food. I did donate more to humanitarian and political causes in the last year than I had in the past 5 years. I finally got around to cleaning up some of my investments.
- Organization - After watching Marie Kondo I did finally embrace tidying up a lot of things around my home. I’ve decluttered a great deal of my possessions, kept more floor space clean and even have a very strict laundry and folding routine.
- Technical Projects - I’m really proud of this. I caught up on dozens of coding projects that I’ve sat on for years. I built a few tools to help me with my finances and organize my files. I even managed to clean most of my pictures (though the last 10% is still lingering). I was also happy to migrate both my personal home server and webserver to more modern software.
There’s probably a few other observations that I’ve neglected to mention, but I’m rather surprised I got here and have something to show for it. This took some effort to identify positive things and that’s not something I do very often. (I should note that I’ve kept some meticulous tracking of my expenses and activities, and looking back its all rather surprising - even to me.)
Anyway, with the rate of vaccination improving I’m hopeful there will not be a Pandemic Year 2, but maybe I shouldn’t make any bets on that. And while they don’t entirely offset the struggles, a lot of these improvements in my day-to-day make me feel good about myself and more so have given me some perspective on my priorities and what I want when things open up. Hopefully I won’t lose these good habits when they finally do.
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