Getting in and out of habits . . .

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

It’s almost 2 years since we all went in to lock down. What a strange couple of years it has been. Although there have been significant markers of time, like the dates when we could see people outside, when we could go into family and friends house, when we couldn’t again, when we got vaccinated, when we (for some) had to isolate, I find the last 2 years a bit of a blur. And now, despite all the cries for getting “back to normal” it seems our world has just ratcheted up the crazy again.

Over these past two years we’ve all had to change our habits. We’ve had to get in to the new (for some) working from home habit, the not going out habit, the going for a daily walk habit, the keeping a safe physical distance from others habit, the washing our hands habit, the wearing face masks habit. These habits were of course strengthened by legal requirements. As these legal requirements are coming to an end, I suspect many of these habits will too. Never mind the vulnerable, never mind that covid infection rates are really high right now, we can just go back “to normal” and forget about those pesky, enforced habits.

Despite living through two years of a global pandemic, it seems that “society” hasn’t really learned from the experience. Our understanding about infection transmission doesn’t seem to have improved. This is despite us all being quite obsessed with COVID transmission data and mortality rates, and being bombarded with them across all media outlets.

The habits of washing hands regularly, keeping surfaces and public spaces clean, wearing a mask in enclosed spaces all seem to be diminishing now too. Never mind that they are really effective ways of stopping the transmission of COVID-19 but lots of other viruses too.

I’ve been thinking about my own habits too. During the first lock down, I made a very conscious effort to keep writing regular updates in this blog. I think this was partly to give me a focus, but it was also a determined effort to keep my professional profile active as part of trying to ensure that I had enough work to survive. I also had the freedom to write about issues that some colleagues in university didn’t.

I’ve always seen blogging as a habit, but I have noticed that this year I have been seriously getting out of that habit. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, I am just quite often at a loss about what exactly to say. It’s often difficult for me to write openly about work I am doing as it can be confidential and/or not really suitable for a blog post. I find I have less of the “I need to have a bit of a rant about this” moments which inevitably used to end up as blog posts. There are also so many “big” things happening in the world, that I often feel very small and insignificant, so writing anything seems slightly pointless.

Just now I wonder more and more about teaching and learning habits, and in turn managerial, and strategic planning habits. So many things changed over the past two years, what habits do we need to keep? Can we ever get out of the habit of endless meetings? Can we develop effective habits of flexible, accessible learning and working conditions? Will we change any of the “habits” of the curriculum? Will the habit of presenteeism win back its stranglehold? Will strategic thinking about HE have collective amnesia about the experiences of lock down?

Anyway this is more of a ramble than a coherent post (ah yes, dear reader, some habits will never change). But I’d be really interested to hear your views on your habits – what ones are you sticking with? Now we can go places again do you still go for your daily walk – or is there no time for that now? And in terms of your working practices what habits have changed?

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