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Diary of a quarantined sociologist - day 6
By Sarah Burrage
Posted on 9/16/2020 12:08 PM

Ah Tuesday. Poor Tuesday. It really is a nothing day. Everyone talks about Monday as being, you know, ‘the dreaded Monday.’ There are memes and gifs full of tired looking coffee mugs and animals pulling blankets over themselves to avoid the reality of the work week. Wednesday of course is ‘hump day,’ so once you reach this pinnacle day then you are halfway there. Thursday is so tantalizingly close to Friday that you basically feel like you can get away with more than you normally would have earlier in the week. Think of all the social events and nights out you may have justified attending because it's on a Thursday? Then of course you have the Mecca that is Friday; the Holy Grail of the working week. But Tuesday? Other than being a linking day between Monday and Wednesday it doesn’t really serve much purpose. Poor Tuesday… If anyone can tell me something positive about this day in the human psyche then please let me know. Why am I focusing so much on the days of the week may you ask? Well dear reader (most likely consisting of my mum and one friend - hey guys!), this is because I have attempted to maintain as routine a schedule as possible that mimic’s the regular calendar week in the ‘real world’. Monday to Friday I attempt to treat like a week-day, getting up at a regular time each morning, do at least 45 minutes of exercise, have breakfast, coffee, make my bed, and then sit at my computer to do some PhD work (Adam and David, if you are reading this then you best stop here…). 

Once I have achieved my self-assigned tasks I then ‘reward’ myself with reading some chapters of my book on the terrace with a cup of tea/glass of wine/beer/beverage of choice before my dinner gets delivered. After this then I literally make a schedule of my free time (yes I schedule my free time), which is either spent watching movies and series episodes or having a bath.  I think the problem I am finding, however, is the classic one faced by many a government employee within the standard 9am-5pm work day. While I may be seated for the majority of the day at my desk giving off the appearance of getting work done and tasks ticked off, I spend most of the time chatting to ‘colleagues’ and friends (mostly about what TV shows we’ve watched and getting spoilers about next episodes of ‘The Boys’), refilling my coffee mug, and using the bathroom. Those times that I do manage to get myself on the computer I am easily distracted by the song playing on my Spotify playlist (Oh have I liked that one yet? Have I added that to my chill out/running/morning motivation/sunny day etc. playlist?), spend far too long ticking off random administrative tasks that are not time sensitive or just stare blankly at my screen while it takes 15 minutes to download the file dragged and dropped because EVERYONE ELSE in the building is using the internet at the exact same time. Seriously, a website I spent 20 futile attempts trying to access all day yesterday loaded within two seconds during a jetlagged 10 minutes at 4am. Don’t even get me started about the ‘people watching’ I catch myself performing from my balcony to those on the street, in the building or office across the way. 

So, dear mom and friend. While from a distance it may seem that I am failing in my attempts to maintain some kind of set routine like Mr. Greste originally advised, I think my reality is far more typical of the average work day than anyone could have ever hoped. I actually looked into how many hours the average person in an office works in a typical 8 hour work day to validate my point. In a study done among over 2,000 office employees in the United States, it was found that people were productive for a mere 2 hours and 53 minutes a day. Just shy of three hours. The most common ‘unproductive activities’ listed included reading news/websites, checking social media, discussing non-work related things with co-workers, searching for new jobs, taking smoke breaks, making calls to partners and friends, making hot drinks, texting or instant messaging, eating snacks or making food in the office. I guess it turns out that when it comes to maintaining a balanced workday routine in quarantine, I am doing just fine. It’s what the research says.