Over the weekend, I took executive action to temporarily suspend all nonessential business activity in my home (conference calls, Zoom meetings, responding to work emails, etc). Instead, I engaged only in essential work (sleeping, Netflix, napping, etc). Now, however, it is Monday, and I find myself contemplating how best to approach a return to normalcy. It is vitally important that I exercise both care and patience as I navigate this treacherous terrain, and so, using a data-driven approach, I have crafted a definitive Four-Phase Plan to Reopen My Work Email.

Phase 1: Get Out of Bed

In this first phase, caution is the name of the game. I don’t want to take any unnecessary risks that could lead to a debilitating second wave of weekend lethargy. So, to make sure I am ready to begin this process, I will watch three more episodes of Never Have I Ever on my phone (my laptop is in the kitchen sink). Only then will I slowly lower the comforter from my body and swing my onesie-clad legs off to the side.

If all goes well, I will aim to be completely disengaged from the sleeping zone as early as 2 PM—an improvement of over three hours from the previous two days’ records.

Phase 2: Maybe Take a Shower?

Phase 2 of my plan has been criticized for vagueness, but I argue that it is designed to allow for situation-specific flexibility. Maybe a shower sounds nice right now; maybe I just want to sit down on the floor for a while instead. Unlike my onesie, there simply is no one-size-fits-all solution for this situation.

At this juncture, things will look very different upstate (my hair) and downstate (my body), and I need to afford myself multiple options so that I’m able to respond in real time to the needs of my psyche. For instance, maybe I’m very cold right now because I just got out of bed and a nice, hot bath will warm me right up.

Oh, I just remembered about baths! Ok, actually Phase 2 is now “Take a Bath.”

Phase 3: Open and Close the Fridge a Few Times

A crucial part of any successful reopening plan involves ensuring the stability of supply chains. And because the goal of reopening my work email is particularly ambitious, I’ll need to make doubly sure that the supply of food from my hands to my mouth remains constant and uninterrupted. To that end, as soon as my post-bath episode of Never Have I Ever is finished (I needed a treat, that bath really took it out of me), the kitchen will be my first stop. I will wash my hands in the sink, taking care to avoid my laptop, and grab some of the potato chips that have been sitting out on the counter to jump-start my metabolism. Then I will open the refrigerator to assess the meal situation.

Subsequently, I will close the refrigerator and look out the window while I think about what I want to eat. After several seconds that seem to last weeks, I will forget what I was just looking at, re-open the refrigerator, and evaluate my food options. After significant deliberation, I will determine the most efficient course of action: order Wendy’s for delivery again (sixth time this week; consistency is key).

However, all this standing up has made me feel a little lightheaded, so I will issue an executive order to return to my bedroom to regroup.

Phase 4: Get Back in Bed

Unfortunately, and despite my best efforts, it looks as though the stars have not aligned to allow me to reopen my work email today. I just am not seeing the numbers I need to see in order to justify that move. And so, reluctantly, I will shuffle over to my bed (my onesie has little built-in slippers so I don’t have to pick my feet up all the way), sit down, and swing my legs back up and under the covers. I will proceed with only essential business (napping, finishing Never Have I Ever on Netflix, eating the food I got delivered from Wendy’s [spicy chicken sandwich]) until it’s time to socially distance myself from being awake.

While others might consider today’s result a setback, I prefer to view it as a beta test. I have more information now than I had before, and information is my friend as I fight to safely reopen my work email. I am confident of better days ahead.

Perhaps tomorrow, after a good night’s rest, I can re-evaluate—at the very least, I truly do hope to have my work email opened up and raring to go by the Fourth of July.

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