WFH-a-thon Thoughts (Part 1)

All anybody can talk about these days is coronavirus - just as contagious as the flu, but 10x deadlier, at least to the elderly. I’m personally not afraid of the virus, but of the knock-on effects it has had on society.

Namely, panic - runs on toilet paper, Purell, bread, whatever. My family had some supplies stocked up, and were a bit short on others. We’ve stocked up on water, gas, baby and cat food, and some shelf-stable foods. I think the only thing we’re missing are various weapons & ammunition, but don’t think that hasn’t crossed my mind. Panic makes people, well, panicky.

Last week, my employer said all employees could “optionally work-from-home.” Two days later, it was upgraded to “recommended work-from-home for the next 4 weeks.”

I didn’t need the escalation to take up the chance to experiment with 100% remote work. I’ve gone back and forth on whether I would join a smaller company with a 100% remote workforce - this gives me the best of both worlds.

Thus far, it’s been a net good change. Getting back 2+ hours of my day gives me the headspace to do things I wouldn’t otherwise have time to do - like write up this post. All without having to sacrifice the precious time with my wife and son.

I’ve largely tried to stick to a similar schedule as work-from-office days. Same workout in the morning, same taking my son to daycare. One big benefit has been walking to pick up him up from daycare with my wife in the warming weather - I’ve greatly enjoyed that part.

I’ve had some difficulty getting into a “work headspace” in the morning, despite only really using my office for work. It’s the same kind of mental transition needed to get into “gym headspace.” It’s not a lightswitch, but a process, and a process that needs a set of triggers to really get going. Those triggers aren’t there yet, but it’s something I’ll think about over the next week.

The house clutter has been significantly reduced. Traversing through the house, being reminded “need to put this away, need to put that away”, adds to the procrastination. A clutter-free space is a clutter-free mind.

The stock market is getting crushed - down 25% from all time highs just a few weeks ago. I’m not so worried about my retirement accounts - this can and should happen to those from time to time.

I worry a bit because part of my compensation is through stock, which obviously has taken a similar 25% drop, and with little hope of recovery before the next vesting.

I think my feelings are best summed up by Ben Carlson here:

The problem with market crashes is it always feels like it’s too late to sell but too early to buy.

I purposefully kept some cash on the sidelines as “dry powder” for just this kind of scenario. In fact, I deployed some after the first 10% drop. Anymore, though, and I’m thinking further down the line, since this cash is also there for my mortgage and property tax payments. Maybe it’s time to rethink that plan - to have a proper separation of “essential expenses cash” and “market implosion cash”.

I think the good result from this whole thing is that I’m not (yet?) sleeping poorly because of my allocation. I deliberately chose my stock/bond split with this in mind (in particular a 50% stock drop, like from the Great Financial Crisis).