I wrote this post three years ago, shortly after the COVID-19 shutdown began, when I learned that my family would be working, learning, and going to school from home. The user manual I created was a huge help in keeping us communicating effectively. As a marketer and writer who already worked from home, I knew that creating a user manual would be a boon for my psyche. It ended up helping the entire family by allowing us to better understand how each individual works best.

The impetus for creating a user manual

Less than 10 minutes ago, my wife walked into my office to find me texting a note to my daughter. The text is related to a home project I’m planning to complete with my oldest: assembling a tap board.

She’s a fantastic, hard-working tap dancer.

We’re going to use the next month of this COVID-19 Shelter in Place (SIP) directive to complete some cool, fun, educational projects.

I could walk out of my office and stand at the stairs to inform my daughter of the idea, but texting is my way.

It is NOT my wife’s way, however.

She looks at texting the way I look at allergy season. With dread.

“You introverts are really enjoying this lock down,” says my wife, as she turns away and walks down the hall from my office.

She knows me.

As my college sweetheart, she really knows me, warts and all:

  • I love to talk, but I don’t like to ALWAYS talk.
  • Alone time is a gift.
  • I am NEVER bored.
  • I LOVE and NEED human interaction; I’m not universally fueled by human interaction.
  • I REQUIRE time to think.

Soooo, when our area moved to SIP and my wife started working from home, we both knew we’d have some challenges:

  • She’s a social butterfly fueled by human interaction.
  • She bores easily.
  • A lifelong busybody, she has to be DOING something.

To add to the potential for drama, the two of us would be working from home while our two daughters worked remotely on schoolwork. It was a recipe for conflict.

But such was not the case.

Nearly three weeks into this experiment, things have gone exceptionally well. No arguments. No calls for more space. No attitudes related to people talking loudly on the phone.

Turns out the user manual wasn’t needed. It is still available should circumstances warrant. 

Might you try creating a user manual? (I stole this idea from a former client. But I’m glad I did.)