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Life in The Time of Pandemic: How My Life Changed Since COVID-19

What can and shall we do to face this “new normal” together?

It has been almost 2 months since President Joko Widodo said Indonesia was also affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, following the number of neighbouring countries that had risen in number. Although I honestly believe, this virus has entered Indonesia since early 2020 — especially with the existence of various simulation data carried out by many researchers from various countries. I live in Bali, where the flow of domestic and foreign tourists is very high. And when there was news about the death of a foreign tourist in Bali, about a week after the president announced COVID-19 cases number 1-3, I was no longer surprised.

But … never mind. I don’t want to discuss the negative things related to the current pandemic. I’ve long filtered conversations or related information, just because I don’t want to go through psychosomatic reactions. Especially if I read the news about how the Indonesian government handles this plague, it feels really annoying! 😤

Talking about how to respond to this pandemic, at the end of last March my husband and I moved to a new house. We’ve been lived in the suburbs of East Denpasar. And after 2 years, we felt that the area where we lived was too far from anywhere. We finally moved to an area that was closer to the airport and downtown; a place that we visit very often. Fortunately, we live in Bali, where there haven’t been many positive cases. Thus, local governments do not impose a lockdown plan. Please note, without lockdown, Bali has become very quiet, really. Auto-desolated since the domestic and foreign tourists weren’t been able to take a vacation. 😅

As a result of this horrifying pandemic, some basic things are beginning to change or will change even further in the lives of many people, including both of us in our daily lives, work and business.

Changes I Make in Everyday Life

Groceries Shopping and Cooking at Home

Before the pandemic

On grocery shopping, for example. I didn’t cook meals very much before. I spent most of my time working. If I feel too tired due to overwork, I replaced it with reading books or watching streaming movies. For daily meals, we both almost always dine-out. We rarely use online food buying and delivery services. Why? It’s simple, for savings. I know that eating out is quite extravagant when compared to cooking at home. But, you need to calculate again on how much my time must be spent on shopping, prepare food ingredients, cook it, and then wash the equipment that has been used for cooking. After calculating, the number is just around the same as to dine-out. But it’s not just about that. We try to limit our wastes. Why? So, if I use food delivery services every day, it’s going to produce food packaging wastes. If I eat at the food stalls (small dine-in restaurants), my waste is only dishwashing soap or cracker wraps 😝

Since the pandemic

I started cooking again, folks! 🤣 Actually, it is because we limit ourselves to go out and meet many people. And also, we have to be super thrifty, because we really don’t know how long this pandemic going to be last. I started to shop at the traditional market since I wake up in the morning again. For some specific imported foods or the kinds of stuff I can’t find at the traditional market, I bought at an imported products supermarket super close to home. After shopping, I arranged all the groceries to their designated places; some go in the fridge, some are stored in the pantry or countertop. After cooking and eating, I immediately washed the dishes. In short, I do not let my kitchen dirty for long, to avoid the bacteria, viruses, fungi and other diseases.

Time Management for Remote Working, Resting and Household Activities

Before the pandemic

We went to sleep the fastest around 12.00 PM and woke up at 9 in the morning. 🤭 It’s not good for our body, I knew it. But changing this habit has been very difficult for us. Partly, because I have almost zero activity that requires physical movement such as cardio or yoga. Our time is fully spent on work, looking for food and entertainment.

Since the pandemic

Moved to a new house has completely changed our bad habits. The first day I woke up in a new home, was at half past 6 in the morning, immediately fed Matthew and Garfield (our lovely cats), and then basked on the balcony — enjoying the fresh morning air and the sunlight that produced vitamin D. After a month living in this new house, I never wake up more than 7 AM. What an amazing accomplishment! 🤣 Normally my activities will be like this:

5:30 – 6:00 Get up early

06.00 – 06.30 Enjoy the morning air and exercise breathing. Sometimes meditation, too.

06:30 – 09.00 Household activities

9:00 – 9:30 Took a bath

9:30 – 12:30 Working

12:30 – 14:00 Lunch and took a power nap. We usually bought lunches, because we have to work.

14:30 – 18:00 Working again

18:00 – 18:30 Yoga, meditation, read books or the latest: learn guitar! The point is, time for myself…

18.30 – 20.00 Household activities; I usually cook, because I already bought lunch outside.

20.00 – 22.00 Working again; so in total, I work for 8 hours. And it’s really productive for me.

22.00 I usually take a shower before going to bed, and I will fall asleep pretty fast after.

This scheduling isn’t really strict. It’s just to give you an idea of how I spent my day in general.

Having “Me Time” By Doing Things That I’ve Never Done in The Past

Before the pandemic

I never have the time to do my hobbies. At the beginning we lived in Bali, I was doing hydroponic gardening diligently. Since we went bankrupt, there were no funds allocated to gardening. All that’s left is reading books — and even then it’s just the old books, some of which haven’t even been read. What a tsundoku! 🙄

Since the pandemic

I have started gardening again. I grow red chillies, spinach, kale, mustard greens, and lettuce. Then, since of the super boredom due to not being able to go to the cinema, not being able to hang out in cafes, unable to go to the mall because most malls are closed, I tried a new hobby: playing an acoustic guitar 🎸 My husband even started playing the violin 🎻 LOL … We are looking for alternative activities that are not related to any digital device — computer, laptop or cellphone. Hopefully, in 2 months we can master a simple song and a musical instrument duet. 🤣

Things That I Think Will Stay in Our Lives Post-Pandemic

There are several things that I think will change as a result of this pandemic, and many of them will also affect the way we interact with other people and nature.

Cloth Masks and Washing Our Hands with Soap

At the beginning of the outbreak of COVID-19, many people panicked and hoarding masks, hand sanitizers and even toilet papers (seriously, people??? 😳). Scarcity of these products occurs everywhere, even to the point of endangering health workers who must treat patients suffering from COVID-19. Also, some folks make disinfection booths, where the disinfectant liquid itself is unclear and potentially dangerous. After a month passed, people returned to their common senses. There are cheaper and easier ways to protect yourself and others. For example:

  • Washing your hands with soap and running clean water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Using cloth masks, even when you’re not feeling sick.
  • Physical distancing (not social distancing, folks! 🙄)

Traffics of Goods and People Between Countries and Regions Will Become Super Strict

To reduce the number of potentially deadly COVID-19 spreads to the vulnerable, strict rules are likely to be enforced in various countries. Possibly, if I’m going to visit the European Union, I would be required to provide negative SARS-COV-2 test results shortly before travelling. And when I arrived there, I might be asked to quarantine independently. Troublesome? Yes, for sure. But as long as the vaccine is not yet available, special arrangements need to be made. And it’s for the best! (Stop using the “liberation” words, people!)

Likewise with goods, it will definitely get stricter. Moreover, it is estimated that the origin of this disease is from reservoir animals which then jump to humans through the consumption of exotic animals that are believed to provide “benefits” for the consumers. For the business people, they will be asked to provide additional resources (money, energy, or time) to meet some additional rules. And it might affect the price of the products consumers need to pay.

Remote Working is Going To Be The “Default”, Especially for Tech Companies

My husband’s former business partner told him, he has been implementing a work-at-home policy for more than a month, whereas previously when they were still doing business together, he looked down on my husband’s ideas. It’s hilarious now he understands the benefits of remote working, how to do it, and most importantly: keep his business going! In the past, he believed that if the works were not seen by him, the employees might not necessarily work properly. Sounds like a micromanaging-type of person, eh? 😅 Apparently, because you have to and you have no option, you finally can do it.

There Will Be A Lot Of Automated Jobs, And Half of It Will Be “Remote-capable”

Some companies that successfully made their companies leaner, and then exposed to the remote work culture, and then successfully implemented them effectively, is not going to have the desire to do the old way once this crisis has passed. The first group that is going to be hit the hardest are low-skilled workers because the company will increasingly streamline its operations by applying technology, where the workers are highly skilled and/or professionals with expertise. Combined with remote working capabilities, the results will be quite lethal to the first class. The company will look for highly-skilled talents or professional specialists who are experienced with remote work in countries with lower living costs. Thus, the salary that must be paid by the company will not be as high as before, the company can also provide other attractive benefits, but with figures that are not burdensome to them. It’s really a win-win solution.

Digital Companies and E-commerce Will Increase and Able to Last Longer

With many people having to isolate themselves at home and avoid physical contact with others, the medium-term winners are certain companies (in various scales) providing goods and services that are possible to be obtained without making physical contact with their customers. And then, a crisis will happen (or already happened) to the companies that required their customers to come to them to be served.

To get through this crisis and survive, some companies have had to lay off less productive employees, or even all, because of this pandemic. They also have to divert strategies, even the direction of the company. This must be done when the previous business did not go according to plan. In the startup world, it is called pivot.

Pivots in the retail world, for example, are marked by supermarkets and modern markets that are starting online delivery services. When customers can’t do grocery shopping as usual, retailers offering pick-n-pack services and groceries delivering to the house will be the winner. In Jakarta and Bandung, for example, fresh food and gorceries shopping services grow exponentially. Some retailers were pretyy overwhelmed to handle it.
Pivots in the health sector: telemedicine and tele-mental health services are also growing fast. People who cannot and are afraid to go to the hospital because the risk of transmission of various diseases started to use online services. The needs of to be able to consult with doctors, online telemedicine services were chosen as alternatives. Sooner or later, these habit will shift to be our primary habit.

What Can You Do To Face These Fundamental Changes?

I always believe the phrase

“Nothing lasts forever but the certainty of change.”

I am always sure that change will always come, planned or not, and we as living creatures must become very adaptive to survive. And how we deal with whatever changes occur in our lives shows what kind of person we are, what is our strength and how much confidence we have.

Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t (have).

— Steve Maraboli

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