what is essential: COVID-19 week 3 learnings

02 April, 2020 3 minutes read

Week 3 of COVID-19 is almost over, and we made it through March '20 - phew! Looking back at my notes from the past month or even from two weeks ago, everything seems as if it happened three months ago. It's like between the rapid changes in how we work and manage our everyday lives time has managed to stretch so everything seems jumbled.

From a personal standpoint keeping a routine and managing my notes helps a lot. In this new order where the work-life balance is fuzzy and the crisis is managed on a day by day basis, capturing my contribution and value on a daily basis serves as an anchor I can reflect on and then project to my team.

essentialism at work

For the past couple of weeks, a word that keeps coming up is 'essential': What is essential work, when is essential to leave the house, who is an essential team member.

This process of ruthless prioritization against the very essence of a problem is something I believe will stay with us for a while after the crisis is over. As a product manager, I'm used to asking a lot of WHYs and critically think about why are things done they way they are; but more often than not the organization, that is built on top of years of accumulated knowledge and experience, prioritizes against perceived problems and heuristics.

That's where I see things changing: The people who sees this crisis through are making decisions not just against budgets and projections, but against questions like - why are customers are our customers? what are they going through and what is the most efficient way we can help. I see a lot of people centric thinking, a lot of repurposing, creative problem solving and just as important - pushback to initiatives that goes against what is really mission critical.

managing time, but also expectations

These days, it's all about prioritization and expectation management. I was writing a lot about time management and the concept of reclaiming energy in 2019 but my main takeaways these days, in conjuncture with managing my time is managing my expectations that goes along with it.

"work time" at home does not equal "work time" at the office, "big task" here does not equal "big task" there. Admittedly, the more I try to shoe old expectations into the new order, the more I realize that best case - it's not going to work and worst case I'll end up feeling frustrated.

if this crisis is to be managed on a daily basis, I'm following suit and managing my time, focus and expectations on a daily bases - keeping resources aligned with what's in front of me and reassessing as I go. What's essential is what matters and my daily achievement is figuring out what essential is.