I was having a conversation with my boss last week about the fact that my calendar was a solid block for days, and it's annoying because you don't get any time to just think or make stuff when that happens. He pointed out that when he does get a solid block of free time, he almost feels guilty about it, like he should be having meetings. Yes! I have this same problem. How did we get here?
American work culture has been fairly ridiculous for a long time, but with so many people having desk jobs from home in the last year, a trend that may stick, it's probably worse as people try to navigate the boundaries of this work arrangement. I've struggled with this for years in remote work scenarios. I wander into my office around 8, often bring lunch to my desk, and then at some point after 5 I realize that it's time to stop. I know that this is exhausting, and while I periodically get into grooves where I break up the day a bit, I fall into the old habit. I think I do it because I want to make sure I'm doing right by my coworkers.
But something interesting happened for the three weeks that I was shuttling Simon to and from school after Diana's foot surgery. That little break, a little after 2:30 every afternoon, did wonders for me. I was less tired, more focused when I was working, and definitely happier. I think I did about the same amount of work, but I felt better. When Diana resumed bus driver duty, I immediately missed it.
Next week, I have strategically put some blocks on my calendar for anything but interacting with people. There are things I need to think about to set up a number of outcomes over the next few months. I'm going to be very deliberate in looking at how that feels at the end of the day.