COVID19 Weekend Work

Day 118: Hitting a Wall

July 11, 2020



I don’t want to do any of it right now.

I don’t want to spend another weekend following the same template we have for months. I don’t want to do my meditation or my Beachbody. I DEFINITELY don’t want to organize my house. I don’t want to read while being interrupted every 3 minutes. I listened to Cal Newport’s podcast and then felt like a full on failure when I was not able to complete my “deep work” project yesterday (because I was texted or emailed or called basically every 5 minutes the entire day). Even though I “time blocked.”

APE = annual program evaluation
It is a behemoth and it is not done

(PS time blocking doesn’t work if you don’t actually have control over your time and are expected to be available for everyone always.)

I just erased an entire paragraph about work things that are terrible and stressful because that does not belong on the internet.

There is no end in sight and I’m getting tired. I need a vacation. There isn’t going to be one.

// end rant from privileged person in objectively very lucky situation but who is getting really #*$@# tired.


  • Reply Grateful Kae July 11, 2020 at 8:53 am

    Then don’t! Skip your workout, skip your meditation, turn the TV on for the kids and go read your book for an hour. Or whatever would refresh and re-energize you. We all have those days. Hugs! (and I totally agree- time blocking sounds great in theory but is just NOT always practical in many situations.)

  • Reply Irene July 11, 2020 at 9:08 am

    I don’t have as much on my plate as you do but hitting a wall sounds about right. And there are so few resources available for help/relief and no reason to think things will get better any time soon. I have allowed LOTS of screen time the past few days, ordered extra take out and bought the kids tons of new toys. It helped, some. But I’m just so tired and tired of worrying about the country and my family. I have no solution at all but give yourself a break any way you possibly can. Maybe extra trading off with josh? Extra screens? Lazy lunch or take out? What ever sounds appealing might be good for you. Hugs.

  • Reply Meaghan July 11, 2020 at 9:15 am

    Ugh! I hate days like that. You don’t have to do any of those things if you don’t want to though. I mean the optional ones. 🙂

    Do you have any vacation time available? I know you can’t go anywhere, but I’ve taken a couple of weeks off during quarantine, because I was going to lose it if I didn’t and it is nice to have some time freed up.

  • Reply Anne July 11, 2020 at 9:16 am

    Hitting a wall here, too. Our internet went down yesterday and is still not back up, which is the most first world problem ever, but I just want to be able to put my kids in front of the TV and relax for two minutes. I try not to go too far down the rabbit hole of doom and gloom–we are healthy and in the same financial position we were six months ago, so things have been pretty good for us–but it’s hard not to fear the long-term implications of this whole nightmare of a global situation when things are clearly just going to be hard, scary, and stressful for a long time.

    • Reply Sarah J Leonard July 12, 2020 at 3:00 pm

      This. All of this. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply Dana July 11, 2020 at 10:32 am

    Do you still have the same nanny that took the kids to her house when you and your husband took weekend vacations? Why not have her take the kids overnight so you get a REAL break? Or maybe she stays with the kids and you go even to a local hotel for a night? I know there is some risk, but there might be a low risk way to take a real break. Maybe even go hiking while the kids stay home. It must be so stressful being in Florida and a doctor right now, it would be good to take even a mini-break.

  • Reply HJ July 11, 2020 at 10:57 am

    Actually the worst to feel this way! Do you have a close friend or colleague to safely commiserate with (and not Josh even though I’m sure he understands)? Someone who understands the intricacies of your work without you having to explain? I hear you on not necessarily owning your work time. It further complicates any project being completed, and you can spend a whole day working and feel like nothing was “done” even though you responded to all the urgent needs. Maybe a good BOBW episode with some crowdsourced solutions for what any of us can do when we feel ready to submit our resignation for Adulting? Hope you can find some restoration this weekend.

  • Reply Amanda K July 11, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Same girl, same! I don’t work in healthcare but my finance role is more demanding and the decisions that need to be made are tougher because of covid and the economic havoc it has brought. The constant worrying and unknowns about school are making me crazy. No matter what the plan is I know it won’t be ideal and I need to be the role model for my kids in this situation but I honestly want to lay down on the floor and throw a tantrum too!

  • Reply Anna July 11, 2020 at 11:30 am

    :((( work in healthcare is a pile of crap right now and I can’t even imagine being PD on top of it.
    And for me it wasn’t even about CV itself but about negotiating ways to keep everyone safe-ish. And I don’t even oversee anyone.
    You know this but non-essential work and home tasks will be there on the other side of this.
    Close contact w a few trusted colleagues was so helpful too.

  • Reply Alexis July 11, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    I love your blog for honest posts like this. And right there with you. This may never end and my state hit record new cases today. It’s just all too much. Feel what you feel. Even without covid burnout is REAL.

  • Reply Omdg July 11, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    Deep work? Who gets to do THAT anymore?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 11, 2020 at 1:14 pm

      Cal Newport … not sure who else

      • Reply Diane C. July 11, 2020 at 5:31 pm

        I would say stop listening/ reason to Cal Newport. I “attended” a virtual lecture that he gave last month and the images that he put in his PowerPoint of distracted people on phones were either women or Asians. No white males. At that point I realized that he was just perpetuating racial, gender, and cultural stereotypes and kind of out of touch with a lot of the realities of most working people in America. Ironic since being out of touch seems to be one of the hallmarks of his ability to do deep work. I think it’s definitely helpful to consume work by people whom one finds inspiring, but not when when it makes one feel empty and frustrated rather than inspired and energized.

        • Reply BethC July 13, 2020 at 10:01 am

          +1 Every time a piece of media makes me feel bad about myself when I otherwise didn’t, I just get rid of it full stop. That is why I haven’t read a fashion/women’s/etc magazine since the early aughts. 🙂

        • Reply Marcia (OrganisingQueen) July 13, 2020 at 10:15 am

          I was going to say the same thing. Sarah, forget about Cal – listen to real people 🙂

          • Sarah Hart-Unger July 13, 2020 at 10:37 am

            like you 🙂 <3 thank you Marcia!!! Your content never makes me feel bad!!

        • Reply protectedtruth July 13, 2020 at 9:53 pm

          As a Cal Newport fan, I hear your comments and will be more aware of his potential stereotypes of racial/gender/cultural and make him aware when I notice it.. Have you informed him of your impression so that he might learn and address?

          I definitely don’t think he is out of touch with a lot of the realities of most working people, but asks the harder questions about needing to address the system of work conditions that minimize deep work periods (if your job/career requires deep work. not all jobs do!).

          Agree wholeheartedly that supportive and inspiring messages be used, but also good to be pushed IF YOU WANT a less distracted life that allows for more deep thoughts/deep work in a possibly more efficient way. Cal’s blog and books are profound, in my opinion.

          Otherwise, you will have to still constantly deal with the work system issues that are causing the drainage of energy, constant interruption and feelings of failure. Definitely not something to deal with on a “bad and exhausting day of work”…self-care and nurture on those days is utmost. But on days when you can sit and think…

  • Reply Sara B. July 11, 2020 at 2:29 pm

    Yup. It’s getting super real in central Florida (clinically) and in our program – trainees and faculty who are positive, their return can be complicated, lots of hands-on training is needed this time of year, and deciding which sessions to hold in person isn’t easy, and there isn’t any space to distance in the ER anyway, so wearing masks and hoping for the best is sometimes the most we can do. I’m sure there are even more challenges, all piling up. You’re doing your best, and that counts. It sure does feel like we’ve all maxed out our coping skills, though, doesn’t it? And of course my physician husband and my nanny seem maxed out too. We did go visit some family for the weekend finally, sans testing (because that’s starting to run low) – we all needed it, have all been distancing, the docs all have good PPE, and it seemed like the only risk worth taking.

  • Reply Brooke July 11, 2020 at 2:55 pm

    Yep. I feel this. While its good to recognize our privilege, just because your problems are not as bad as others does not make them less valid to you. It sounds like your job expects you to take a day off each week without having really decreased your workload by the same amount, and I’m sure due to program certification requirements there is really only so much you can cut without risking the program and the careers of your residents. On top of this, how do you keep yourself and your residents safe when so many things can really only be done in person, or how can you enhance the virtual experience? I get it. I went through a very similar cycle at work earlier this year, and I’m sure I will again.

  • Reply Coco July 11, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    i totally feel you. i was like this exactly yesterday. i was tired of my living situation (not a bad one for sure) but missing a break so badly.
    fortunately i had a girls catch up in the afternoon to vent and socialise. I am not back to self.

  • Reply Sophia July 11, 2020 at 5:35 pm

    A lot of people are grieving. I certainly am. I hope things get better.

    I have never listened to Cal Newport and I never want to after reading about him

  • Reply Jessica July 11, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    Sarah – may I give you permission to stop apologizing/feeling guilty for your privilege? My situation is similar to yours (young kids at home, still working as a physician, still have childcare), but I’ve been having a very hard time with COVID fallout, compounded by beating myself up for feeling bad!

    I finally realized this (graphic) analogy: if you’re in an accident and one of your legs is severed, just because someone else in the accident had two legs severed, it doesn’t mean that yours doesn’t hurt. Frankly, even if you just sprained an ankle, it still hurts! I’ve decided that is my experience of COVID — my situation is much better than many others, but it is still hard and I’ve giving myself permission to feel fed-up / angry / sad in turn. Getting rid of the guilt about the feelings had made the feelings themselves more manageable.

    I’m hoping your work stuff settles down — it won’t be like this forever!

    (This comment is made with a ton of respect and compassion, and if I’m misinterpreting/overstating your feelings, Sarah, please forgive me!)

    • Reply Amy July 11, 2020 at 9:01 pm

      I totally agree with this. Beating yourself up for feeling this way isn’t necessary! This is hard for almost everyone no matter their social position. Be good to yourself.

  • Reply AMANDA M LEWIS July 11, 2020 at 9:48 pm

    Long time reader, first time commenting. Everything you said resonated with me and I appreciate your honesty. This situation is just hard and with no end in sight it feels harder to keep the balancing act going. I have a 2 year old and am pregnant with my second. Sent my daughter back to daycare on Monday after 4 months at home, got a call on Wednesday that they were shut down for a potential exposure. Still expected to deliver on everything at work, feeling uncomfortable at 6 mo pregnant, and definitely running out of entertainment ideas for toddler. Also no help from relatives possible because they are all a plane ride away.
    Sending you lots of empathy.

  • Reply Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life July 12, 2020 at 1:36 am

    So much empathy. I felt like this every day of this week and I finally decided today that somehow I’m going to start giving myself some Eff-It Hours. I can’t take a vacation but there’s going to be an hour here and there where, Eff-It, work is not getting done. My hope is the small reprieves will be restorative enough to get me through another week and another, and on the micro level, be enough to let my actual working hours be more intensely focused rather than the current state of affairs.

    • Reply Heather F. July 12, 2020 at 3:34 pm

      I love this phrase. Eff-It Hours!!! Thank you.

  • Reply A. July 12, 2020 at 8:42 am

    I think that if even the most privileged people in America have a hard time, maybe we can say the system is fucking broken. One of the solution is degrowth. Not to add more to your plate, but less. Not more money and work, but less. More time, more life. And globally, more equity.

  • Reply Marcia (OrganisingQueen) July 13, 2020 at 10:18 am

    May I suggest that you take leave – it sounds like burnout to me. I took two days last week and had a glorious 4-day weekend and it felt…. amazing. I have taken another 3 days off in Aug (for my birthday) to make 5 days off. Cannot wait.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 13, 2020 at 10:37 am

      Yeah but . . . I need “leave” from parenting too and that’s not gonna happen!

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