Keeping up in a Pandemic

It is ok not to be ok.

What does it mean to keep up during a pandemic? What are we supposed to do? Are we supposed to use this time to learn a new skill? Or do our best to survive, keeping ourselves and others safe?

If you are having trouble doing the basics, you are not alone

Throughout this time, I have felt I should be doing more. I see posts of people learning new skills, running live coding streams, and online workshops. They are using the lockdown to their advantage. Meanwhile, I struggle with the day-to-day.

I had big plans for this year. I created a website, started a blog and applied to speak at conferences. I had goals to post once a month and complete ten public speaking events this year. I joined the organising committee for DDD Melbourne and another group that was brainstorming the future of the .NET community. I was eager to get involved and be proactive in the tech community. I finished one blog post and was accepted to speak at Full Stack Day, New Zealand in March.

Then the pandemic hit.

Company-wide travel restrictions and self-quarantine for international travellers meant the conference in New Zealand could not happen.

Working from home became mandatory. We all had to adjust to a new way of doing things, with no end in sight.

I hoped that working from home would mean more time to get things done. I would have more time to write blog posts, conference talks and learn new technologies.

I was wrong

We’ve been working from home now for six weeks. Some days are better than others. One week I was very productive, accomplished all my tasks and was positive about my work. The next, I had trouble concentrating, was not able to focus, felt down and angry at myself for not achieving as much as I thought I should be.

My big plans fell by the wayside as I tried to figure out how to make this all work.

Many people are worse off than I am, having to look after kids while trying to work, or not able to work at all. I am grateful I am still able to work, but that does not mean it is unchallenging. This pandemic has impacted us all in different ways.

The purpose of this post is not to be all doom and gloom but instead to tell you that it is ok and you are not alone. Not everyone can accomplish more or learn a new skill. It is ok to have a glass of wine, to have good days and bad, to struggle to keep on top of routine tasks. The conference talks and new skills can wait. Take care of yourself and do what is best for you. We will get through this.

Melissa Houghton

Melissa Houghton is a Lead Software Engineer at Azenix and a Microsoft MVP in Developer Technologies.

Her work is focused on application development using Angular, .NET, and Azure, but she has a wide variety of skills and is always open to learning new things.

An advocate for women in tech with a passion for leadership, technology and giving back to the community. She frequents tech events, is an international conference speaker and organiser of DDD Melbourne conference, Melb․NET meetup, and Microsoft AU New Breakpoint Community.

Originally from California, Melissa loves to travel and now lives in Melbourne, Australia.