Hard as it is to embrace, load shedding does not have to leave you powerless in all ways. With preparation, a positive attitude and the appropriate aptitude, it may help you shed perceptions that are holding you back. May we raise a glass-half-full to the energy gridlocks? Yes, the ones halting progress all over the world at the moment.
Whether it’s a shutdown to reduce the risk of wildfires in the American west or the fault of an ailing power matrix here in Africa, intermittent load shedding and electricity blackouts are happening from Mzansi to California and back.
It can be frustrating to adjust, certainly, but on the bright side, when the grid is down, you tend to look around more, maybe talk to people more, definitely engage with your pets more. Over the ocean, the New York Times notes that energy outages aren’t even stopping energy-heavy affairs like weddings and other large-scale events. During power outages, intrepid American brides are washing in locker room showers while clever guests take a dip in the resort pool to freshen up for the ceremony. Now that’s a positive attitude!
Take a hint from their happy approach and discover how load shedding may help you let go of bad habits you didn’t know you had.
- DYK you might have a digital addiction? Our dedication to digital devices like mobile phones and tablets (not to mention gaming stations) can get – ahem – out of hand. Especially when you add social media to it. Thankfully, social networks have begun to take responsibility with behavioural prompts like “you’re all caught up” on Instagram, reminding you that you’ve seen everything new in the feed. Still, the communal nature of digital and social is a compelling one and we do get caught in the scroll-double-tap-scroll loop, don’t we? When the power’s out, your device battery dies, and you’re deprived of likes, you might find you also like to dip into a good book, renew a forgotten hobby or simply clean out your stuffed closet. Either way, your eyes and your neck will thank you (and Eskom).
- So the screen went black and there are two hours without power. You could go looking for a generator and meet your neighbours in the process, take the time to stand up and stretch, take the dog(s) for a walk, or catch up with a colleague (and build a better bond that results in better performance for you both when you work together next). You’re a time management expert, anyway, right? So you’ll catch up with the work itself a little later. If the deadline really can’t wait, you can always go find a friendly coffee shop that’s still juiced with power.
- As our energy needs outpace the infrastructure supplying it, load shedding can be a pathway to doing things differently. It may feel strange at first, but from the novelty of solar showers to taking your notes on – gasp! – real paper, you have a chance to rediscover the “real”. How amazing is it to have a warm shower with water heated in a simple black bag hanging in the sun? Or to reacquaint yourself with your funny, wobbly handwriting again? There’s something very genuine about making do with what you have, and something liberating about doing it with a can-do attitude. Embracing new approaches will probably also impact your career positively as you become more flexible and amenable to change; everyone loves a problem solver with a big smile, after all!
- One of the key aspects of everything grinding to a temporary halt is the “people time” opportunity. We are often so committed to our own lives that we may forget the world around us. Going in search of a battery pack at your neighbours or being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic when the robots are out gives you a chance to connect with others through your open window. Everyone is sharing the same frustrations so it’s also a chance to make friends you might otherwise never have met. Or at least grumble about the grid together until it’s time to get back into gear.
- Then there’s you. “Me time” is a huge part of nurturing your wellbeing, and if you can’t work, shop, or operate your growing collection of power tools, for example, you can take a couple of hours and spoil yourself. How does a professional massage sound? No batteries required, there! What about a cat nap for a bit? You didn’t even know you were exhausted, did you? Pop over to the local animal shelter and cuddle some kitties while the power’s out and you’ll feel recharged yourself. What else haven’t you had time for lately? Do it now, while you have a legitimate excuse the whole country is using. It might leave you feeling refreshed, or at least that you haven’t wasted the downtime. You’ll even operate better and faster because of it (and completely make up for the missed hours of productivity in the present).
- When you combine “me time” and “we time” you obviously get “braai time”, which is good, because there’s no electricity and the gas stove just died. Pull out the tongs, the coals, the wood, whip out the butternut steaks, boerewors and the rolls. You are now going to make a yummy meal for everyone to get greasy fingers on. It is important to do this promptly. “Hangry” people are hard to be around, and stomachs are grumbling.
- Finally, take a minute to be grateful for long South African days, where, even if you can’t check Facebook, or bake a cake, you can still see where you’re going while the power’s out. Frustrated despite all efforts to the opposite? Surrender! Take this time out to top up your vitamin D count with a bit of sneaky suntanning.
So when’s the next power outage? This awesome app will send you alerts and reminders on power outages in South Africa. Now you can plan your candlelit potjie dinners to the max 😉