I open my third e-mail of the morning. I reply to some messages from employees working in different time zones. Next thing I know, I’ve been up for an hour despite not having left my bed. This is how I often start my day.
For a recent college grad and new working professional, I did not have a chance to adjust to life from college to workplace. As a matter of fact, I have never worked a day in the office. My first day of work started at home, where my computer took me to various places through Zoom.
After two to five meetings in a day, I find myself monitoring my computer’s temperature to keep it from overheating. But it is not just the computer that is overheated. I am as well. I am bored. The new digitalization of work has shortened my attention span, as I am unable to follow singular chains of thought for prolonged periods.
To reclaim my lost productivity, I have begun to go on long walks in silence. In the beginning, I found it difficult to walk for even 10 minutes before feeling an irresistible urge to check my texts—“How is your day?” an inquiry from my mom, or social media messages like, “Which type of mustard are you?,” a BuzzFeed headline.
Yet, slowly and surely, I realize that the farther I walk, the less I’m drawn to the gadgets I carry in my backpack.
Before COVID-19, I traveled every year. I studied abroad in Singapore and did a summer internship in Shanghai, but it is only recently that I started exploring the county parks near my house. With magnificent trails, creeks running clear, and roaming wildlife all nearby, I realize I do not have to travel far to experience new territory and spectacular vistas. I can make my home my base camp and discover multiple hikes in and around Santa Clara.
These walks helped me “reboot,” renew, and relearn that it’s OK to be both bored and curious. With the New Year upon us, I’ve found more space for physical activities as well as personal reflections.
Submitted by James Zheng, Santa Clara County – Sunnyvale.