Yesterday, the first Monday in September marked Labor Day, officially a day to acknowledge the contributions of US workers. Unofficially though, it marks a send-off to summer, a last opportunity to get in a trip to the beach or host an outdoor BBQ, the final proverbial hurrah before Fall.
But of course, like everything else this year, Labor Day was admittedly different. We said goodbye to a summer that didn’t feel quite like sunshine, and Fall is bringing up so much uncertainty still. But the idea of Labor Day, dedicated to work of all things, got us thinking…
What does work even man these days? Because of Covid, it has changed so drastically for so many, and so fast:
- Work mounted quickly for medical first responders, while other professions saw their work come to a screeching halt,
- supermarket workers became so very essential, while women were disproportionately affected with job cuts,
- teachers transformed,
- parents became teachers,
- and almost everyone started working remotely.
Not just on Labor Day, but every day, it’s hard *not* to think about work, and how complicated it seems to have gotten for so many of us. But! there are silver linings:
- The ability to work from home is increasing parenting time, and kids are showing signs of greater resiliency and better emotional health as a result,
- It has forced both employers and employees to rethink working from home and the advantages that can come of it,
- Even in the absence of a shared water cooler, coworker camaraderie exists
In all, it’s clear that most everyone’s relationship to work has changed. But no matter what your personal circumstance, it helps to know that there are countless others experiencing the same or similar situations and challenges. And even if it’s difficult to find strength in numbers, there’s a host of work-related thought-leaders that offer amazing advice on how to cope with work stress. So in honor of Labor Day yesterday, this week, consider spending Seven Minutes on:
- Disconnecting: “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets … it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.” - Cal Newport, Deep Work
- Getting Organized: “It is not just our desks that need tidying. We’re overloaded with nonphysical clutter too. In particular, modern technology has generated digital clutter in the form of excess emails, files and online accounts. Clear it all” -Marie Kondo, Joy at Work
- Discovering a New Outlet: Longform journalism—typically creative nonfiction or narrative writing in excess of 1,000 words—can help. Longform is better than blog post, but not as time-intensive as a book. Where to discover great longform? Try The Guardian Longread, The Sunday Long Read or One Great Story. It’s a guilt-free mental transformation away from the work grind.
These quick recharges will guarantee a more positive and productive you – in both work, and in life.