I don’t know if there’s yet a definition of or a clinical diagnosis for the derangement caused by coronavirus and its associated emotional and psychological manifestations. And I don’t know if any such diagnosis yet appears in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). But I do know two things: The first is that there’s no time to lose. Since the definition and the clinical diagnosis are inevitable, we may as well get them out of the way now:

Coronapathy (noun): A mental health disorder caused by the coronavirus. Coronapathy is characterized by disregard for one’s own credibility and the intelligence of other people. Secondary symptoms include irresistible urges to state the obvious and inexplicable tendencies to treat common sense as brilliant novelty.

The second thing I know is that everyone associated with Harvard Business Review (HBR) — writers, editors, et al. — have contracted acute cases of Coronapathy. Here’s the way their symptoms presented: “How to Transition Between Work Time and Personal Time”. If you don’t yet share my concern for the stricken folks at HBR, check this out:

You could be sitting at your desk but more preoccupied about a home repair than the assignment at hand, or you could be at the kitchen table thinking more about the proposal you have to finish than the people eating dinner with you. That’s why transitions from work mode to personal mode are so essential.

Got that? Work mode/personal mode. Right. So, this isn’t an admonition againts multi-tasking. It’s an admonition against cross-tasking.

Simple Things for Simple People

Yes. Because we’re talking about HBR, we do, in fact, have the obligatory list. Here it is:

  1. Have a starting work routine.
  2. Make a plan.
  3. Prioritize your communication.
  4. Set a wrap-up routine.

But if you’re anything like me, that doesn’t make you feel any better about coming up on the short end of HBR’s Coronathapy. I guess the best we can think is if the folks at HBR hadn’t been so severely afflicted, they never would have published this thing in the first place. And I guess the best we can do under the circumstances is help them out by making two simple observations:

  • If you’re getting paid for whatever it is you’re doing, it’s work time.
  • If you’re not getting paid for whatever it is you’re doing, it’s personal time.

You can tell the difference between the two by performing a fairly straightforward, two-step process of elimination:

  1. Let yourself be preoccupied for a while about a home repair and see if any checks come in.
  2. If not, finish that proposal and see what happens.

Most folks get the hang of that well before they go broke. And keeping your eye on your bank balance makes it infinitely easier to transition from work mode to personal mode.

Cereal Immunity

To send get-well wishes to the ailing HBR staff, email louie@covid-hbr.org. To have Coronapathy codified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, call 1-800-HBR-DSM5. Operators are standing by.

The brain you save from turning to oatmeal may be your own.