The realities of a guilt-free work week — week 11

Reflections from my 12-week Investigation Day experiment

Melissa Rosenthal
3 min readApr 24, 2020


Photo by Vincentiu Solomon on Unsplash

Life is smaller at the moment. In many ways, like all of us, my world has shrunk. I was supposed to be leaving on Monday for a 4-week trip to the US, including a stop in Chicago for the 20-year reunion of my MBA program. Clearly that’s not happening.

Of course, it’s disappointing — but the cancellation of the face-face event has spawned a series of smaller, global video-based gatherings. And actually it has given us the opportunity for longer, deeper conversations that would have been unlikely if we had all travelled to be together. Don’t get me wrong, I would much rather be in Chicago next weekend — but given that I can’t be, this is a surprisingly lovely second best.

This smaller life isn’t just about cancelled travel. It’s also about sleeping in on the weekends (why not, there’s nowhere to be), cooking things I’ve never attempted before (this weekend is souffle) and picking up old hobbies that had been abandoned in favour of brighter, shinier things (hello, guitar). There’s a lot to like about this life. So much so that at our house we’ve begun to talk about what we might “keep” once our lockdown is over. I like the thought that, in this context, bigger isn’t necessarily better. I look forward to a time when we, once again, have the choice to strike our own balance between big and small.

Do I feel less guilty?

In truth, I feel a little bit guilty for enjoying some parts of this smaller life. There’s a small voice inside my head saying “it’s a global pandemic, people are dying, and you’re enjoying staying home?”. In my more rational moments, it’s clear to me that practising gratitude and finding the positives wherever we can are important coping mechanisms as we make our way through our immediate future — which I’m trying my best to do.

What observations have I drawn from today?

In perhaps the most obvious newsflash of the week…the weather makes a huge difference to my mood. Having been rugged up in sweaters and ugg boots all week with the heating on, today is a glorious sunny day. And I’ve made the most of it. I’ve taken phone calls while walking the dog outside, stood outside in the sun to have my morning coffee and found every excuse to wander away from the desk and into the outdoors. In fact, I can feel myself rushing as I write this, knowing that as soon as I’m done I can take the top off a beer, flop into a bean bag in my front yard and watch the world go by.

I’m discovering a good rhythm for my Fridays. Mornings are for listening and learning — webinars, coffees (virtual of course) and podcasts. Afternoons are for reflecting, planning and writing. It seems to work for my schedule and my energy levels.

How will next week’s Investigation Day be different?

Next week is week 12 — the final week in the experiment. I’m glad — I’m ready to call it a success, embed it into my week and move on. It also presents an interesting challenge — will I be able to maintain the discipline without the structure of the experiment, especially if I move on to testing another element of my work week (I’m taking ideas on that one!)?

So next week will be a little different in that I’ll be closing out this phase and designing the next one. As someone who loves shiny new things, I’m excited about the idea of starting something. The trick for me will be to make sure I spend the time and effort to capture the learnings from this experiment before moving on to the next one. Hopefully at least one of you will hold me accountable by reading next week’s article and asking me a hard question about the depth and breadth of my reflection.

Until then…it’s beer o’clock!

If you’re curious about the background to Investigation Friday, what’s happened in weeks 1–10 or other topics I’ve written about, follow me here on Medium



Melissa Rosenthal

Executive Coach | Mentor | Advisor | Podcast Co-host Remote Control |