Workday Reading

The Edition: No. 154

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. // Zig Ziglar

Usually, I only post The Edition once per week.  But I am desperate for positive, diverting, interesting content.  So whenever I have enough links to write a quality post, I will.

+ How to make your home a more productive place to work.

+ We’re doing an at-home date night this Friday, so I bought this cobalt dress.

+ Conference calls in real life, a documentary.

+ Affordable, reader-recommended serums for good skin.

+ What Is Business Casual Anyway? I joined Career Contessa for a conversation about navigating casual office dress codes.

+ When It’s Time: This vibrant Eliza J dress and AT pleat-sleeve dress are perfect for the office in spring.

+ ‘Thank you, Ruth Bader Ginsburg,’ a letter from her clerks.

+ Gap wants you to wear color with color.  Their coral sweater is fabulous.

+ Your favorite musicians and bands are streaming live concerts from home.

+ Lou & Grey’s new line is a breath of fresh air.  Don’t miss this comfy midi-dress or their signature plush sweats.

+ How parents can keep kids busy and learning in quarantine.

+ The Larq Water Bottle is expensive, but the UV-C cleaning element can kill coronavirus.

+ Long Read: The Doctor, the Dentist and the Killer.  Or anything by Skip Hollandsworth.

Today is day 13 of my quarantine. So I speak to you from (what is likely to be) the future. 

I am an extraordinarily introverted person; I rarely go out. I often go three or four days without leaving my home because it’s where I work. But after almost two full weeks at home, I’d love to be able to sit down with some friends at a good restaurant and enjoy a night out (and then do it again, 20 or 30 times). 

Also, my mental health is not optimal. Emotions are close to the surface. Fighting malaise is a constant battle. Not letting the confusion, uncertainty, and pessimism overwhelm me is a huge lift.

So what advice do I have for you as you prepare for what could be a lengthy period of isolation?

Keep a Routine.  The days become monotonous and then endless. You need the discipline to stick to a routine. Productivity and accomplishment (even small things) will keep you sane. Have a bedtime, have a wake-up call, don’t let the days just run on. Because I promise you, on about day 6, you’re going to fall out of routine, slowly at first, and then, all at once.

Get outside. It snowed in the middle of my quarantine. 28-degree temperatures. Blowing and drifting snow. A howling wind. Those were the hardest days. Just the freedom to walk a few blocks is helpful. Keeping the windows cracked for fresh air also helps keep the mind clear.

Resist the Temptation to Shop Just So You Can Leave.  When the only place you can go is to the store, you will start going to the store more often. Look at your social media feeds, many of your favorite influencers and friends are going the store more than they would in an average week. Part of this is the natural, human impulse to stock up when we’re afraid, but some of it is just that we have nowhere else we are “allowed” to go. 

Every time you leave isolation, you put yourself at risk and increase the chance that you will sicken others and spread the disease. Instead, stick to a schedule. Plan your menus. Plan for your needs. Keep your trips to the store to a minimum. Don’t use a grocery run as a panacea for the impacts of isolation.

Take Your Space. If you are isolating with others, it’s easy to wind up on top of each other. Find the time and space to have some distance and some quiet. I know this is hard in small big city apartments and when you have children, but even if it’s just 15-minutes alone in your bedroom with your AirPods in and the Calm app, take it. You will need it.

Clean Up.  Small messes become big messes very quickly when you are always in one place. Mess and clutter can impact your mood, your productivity, and can make it harder to disinfect. So take a little time every day to reset your space.

Connect Virtually.  When I was first on quarantine, everyone else was still out and about. It was incredibly isolating. Now that most of my people are staying home, daily FaceTime calls, and the ability to reach out to others is beneficial. Schedule a daily call with a different friend. Invite friends to virtual happy hours. Send around a fun article for a few friends to read, and make time to chat about it. We are so blessed to have the technology we have in this challenging time, use it.

Admit When You’re Not Okay. It is more important than ever that we find ways to express our feelings in a healthy way. Bottling up all of the conflicted emotions you experience during a long period of isolation will only make it worse. Be open and honest with those you love, talk with them, don’t keep it all to yourself.

Take Care of Others and Yourself. Some of your loved ones are quarantined alone. Some are quarantined with three children under-five. Some are quarantined with roommates they don’t like or with toxic relatives. Small gestures can help make their experience easier. 

As much as we need to support each other, we also need to keep our own cups are full. I promise you, by day 13, you will need to have some left for yourself. So as I said above, take your space and engage in things you enjoy. Rewatch comforting shows. Paint your toes. Add flowers to your grocery delivery. Care for yourself as much as you care for others.

This is a time of national sacrifice. We are being called to serve our fellow Americans by staying home, watching Netflix, and keeping calm. We can do this. But we can only do it together. 

{this post contains affiliate links that may generate commission for the author}



  1. TheLOOP says:

    Thank you! I am working from home and in back to back calls… it feels like I am working longer than I do in the office; it’s brutal. I appreciate the mental breaks your posts give me. So, a huge thank you!

    March 18, 2020/Reply
  2. Naomi says:

    That cobalt dress is a dream. What do you have planned for at-home date night? Just a night without cell phones / technology would be a great respite for me (my husband and I both have difficulty separating from our phones; and when I’m ready to disconnect, he’s not and vice versa). My ideal night in would be a no-cell phone zone, making homemade pasta together, and perhaps even bringing out the fine china and candles for dinner. Would love to hear other ideas for date nights in, since we’re all likely to be having them for a while!

    March 18, 2020/Reply
    • Emily says:

      YES! I agree more at home date night ideas. With the weather warming up, my husband and I love to make pizza on the grill and drink beers on the patio together.

      March 18, 2020/Reply
  3. Jess says:

    We’ve been eating dinner by candlelight. Our kids think it’s the most amazing thing ever and it does make it feel extra special.

    March 18, 2020/Reply
    • Belle says:

      That’s super fun.

      March 18, 2020/Reply
  4. Marisa says:

    Hi Abra,

    I’ve been coming here almost daily for about seven years. I just want to say thank you for posting this extra Daily Edition & for all of your work from home content! I’m currently self-quarantining and working from home & your content is both especially helpful and something I look forward to take my mind off of things! I tried the “spite dinner” you posted & it was absolutely delicious!

    March 18, 2020/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I’m so glad! Just trying to keep something normal, when nothing else is normal.

      March 18, 2020/Reply
  5. Shanghai says:

    Sigh, the store reminder is one I need. I’ve been good about staying home but constantly want to go out. Just to the grocery store. Just for a Starbucks. My husband has been good about stopping me (and vice versa).

    March 18, 2020/Reply
  6. Chelsea says:

    Love this post Abra! I’m wondering if you are going to keep isolating after 14 days? (Obviously even if you were comfortable going out, there is not much open…).

    March 19, 2020/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I am. I think it’s important. I still don’t know what made me sick, and since some of the Chinese doctors are saying they saw C-19 in patients weeks after they were sick, I feel no need to return to normal. And even if it was just a cold, I think it’s a good thing to stay in as much as possible.

      March 19, 2020/Reply
      • Chelsea says:

        That makes sense. Thanks again for the great content—stay safe in WA!

        March 20, 2020/Reply
  7. Erin says:

    THANK YOU for always considering other people with different needs in your posts. The fact that you think about plus-size when you’re not, people with kids when you don’t, and different age groups when you’re in the middle is SO appreciated! I’m still having to work full time at my regular office building while my kids are home fending for themselves, and your perspectives are always comforting to me.

    March 19, 2020/Reply
  8. Kelsey says:

    Thank you for including the link to the conference call in real life video! I shared it with my team and it gave everyone a much-needed laugh. Their subsequent video call in real life version is also hilarious!

    March 19, 2020/Reply
    • Belle says:

      “Beth has joined the call…”

      March 19, 2020/Reply
  9. Rebecca says:

    I’m just here to echo the earlier comments expressing appreciation for this post specifically, and this blog in general. Thank you for keeping it real!

    March 20, 2020/Reply