April 2, 2020 The Challenge of Working from Home during a Pandemic
Dear Vicki: I appreciated your blog posts about stress and isolation during these Covid-19 times, and as a working wife and mother of 2 children, I do think I’ve handled things pretty well on most fronts. My husband and I are getting along fine and we take turns managing the home-schooling efforts. I still manage the shopping and meals, but I like to cook. What I don’t seem to be doing well is the work from home piece; I can’t seem to get into a rhythm and wrap my mind around my job as an event planner for a mid-sized company. I feel completely uninspired working on the couch at home (my husband is using the office). Plus, I miss laughing and kidding around with my co-workers. Is there something I can do to be more focused and productive working here? Signed: Lost at Home
Dear Lost: There is no doubt that the current Covid-19 pandemic has thrown almost every aspect of our lives into some form of chaos. And for working couples with school-age children who are now home every day, it often looks more like total chaos. You and your husband are to be commended for managing as well as you are. Please pat yourselves on the back! That said, I suspect the difficulty you are having with being productive working from home relates to your elemental personality, so let’s take a look at that.
The fact that you are an event planner who misses laughing and kidding around with the people at work suggests to me that your primary elemental personality is probably Fire. People with a lot of Fire energy do love to laugh and joke around. They also love attending parties and events, so often make great event planners themselves. And the fact that you do all of the cooking at home suggests that you could have a secondary Earth personality. This would also be an asset as an event planner since most events include food, ideally good food.
As a primary Fire personality, you will be great at managing and hosting events with an eye on having fun. However, Fire people generally don’t have a lot of structure. In nature, Fire is really nothing more than heat made visible; no structure there. But to plan and manage events says that you must have the ability to access an element with structure. This is possible because, as we have said here many times, we do have all five of the elemental energies in our personalities. Since planning events obviously involves planning, which is the forte of the Wood personality, I suspect that you do tap into the Wood part of your personality to do your job. And that ability to tap into Wood energy to plan an event is what will help you now, but not for the planning.
In the Five Elements model, Wood and Fire relate on the Nurturing Cycle with Wood feeding Fire. Your Fire energy is where the inspiration and fun sits for much of what you create for your events. But life is very serious right now; people are dying from a pandemic. Plus, you miss joking with your coworkers, which for a Fire personality is a very real issue. A lack of fun can certainly diminish or “put out” Fire. You need to build your Fire energy to build your inspiration, but there are specific ways to do this that will be best.
Traditionally, we say to build Fire energy you can surround yourself with the color red, wear garnet or ruby stones, drink Hawthorne berry tea, or use rosemary or lavender essential oils, among other things. But the times are so crazy these days that I think too much pure Fire energy right now could dance close to panic or anxiety instead of fun. Intuitively, you may also feel this. So instead of building your Fire directly, I suggest that you build your Fire by feeding it. And as we said, it is Wood energy that feeds Fire.
One important way you can use the energy of Wood to feed your Fire is by using the structure of Wood to help you get organized. First, I have no idea what the layout of your home is but working on the living room couch doesn’t sound like a great idea. Are your children running in and out? Does your husband wander through? Is the kitchen tantalizingly close? I would strongly encourage you to carve out a more private place as your “at home” office. Do you have a spare bedroom? A finished basement? Any place in your home where you can go and not be disturbed or, more importantly, tempted to connect with your family. The Fire personality lives for short and fun connections, so this will be a strong urge for you, but an urge you need to ignore for your work to get done.
Please use the structure of your Wood energy to create a place at home that says “work” for you and then use it. I truly believe that if you create this space and spend time there, your Fire inspiration will build and your productivity will increase. Also, the Wood energy will help facilitate planning the events that may not be held right away, but will be wanted and very needed in a post-pandemic future. And when that happens, you will be ready. Blessings to you and your family. Stay safe and well!