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What do those three terms have to do with me?

Well, right now, I—like everyone else alive at this time—am living through a pandemic that affects almost all aspects of our collective experiences—and puts each of us in the position of having to decide to how to respond to the health threats brought about by COVID-19. Each day it becomes more apparent to me that how we “do COVID” is a personal decision.

Well, who am I? I am a person with a diagnosis of ADD who often has to struggle to manage matters that come more naturally for neurotypical people. Before I had a name for what was behind some of my difficulties, I was always looking for techniques to keep me on track. Consequently, in my MBA studies, I was drawn to what I learned in operations management courses.

Operations management is an area of business focused on how to get things done—in efficient and effective ways, with minimal loss of resources. Without systems, my brain leans toward chaotic approaches to everyday and long-term actions and decisions. What’s intuitive for many, needs a bit more structure for me to initiate and complete. As such, I am a big fan of having a plan—and that includes having a plan for some of the things that might go wrong.

How you “do” any aspect of life is pretty much an area for operations management. For example, my class project on changing diapers (for our twins) taught me this great insight—if you don’t have all the supplies ready before you start your task, you’re going to waste a lot of time. Well, duh—but my instinct first is to take action and second to think. I need systems for my actions to be effective. And when I find a system that works for me, I stick to it rigidly. Dishwasher loading, closet organization, calendar management, and medication/supplement organization are a few tasks where I’ve had some success.

Operations management is also part of the protections in place for a business to uphold employee safety, assure equipment integrity, and manage the money invested in a business. For a factory, that might involve employee training, scheduled maintenance, shutdown protocol, and upgrades. For humans, we invest in the health of our bodies. Without my systems, I might take my medications only when I remember, exercise when I feel like it, or forget to schedule appointments with my doctors. My mind is that chaotic—but I am not willing to live in chaos for the areas of my life where precision really matters.

And in this era, I also choose to believe what the majority of scientific and medical professionals are saying. I don’t leave my risks to my mind’s whims—which are many. My husband and I have created a mask station that makes it easy for us to find and take our masks when we leave. Our family takes seriously the recommendations on social distancing and wearing masks—and we don’t want to spend a lot of time around people who won’t follow those practices.

Can we protect ourselves from every droplet or aerosol? No, we cannot. But that doesn’t mean having a system is useless—it just means that having a system is one of the tools we have for reducing some of the risks in this season of unknowns.

I’m tired of many leaders and other adults abdicating responsibility for the health risks they present to others. Our country is in a bigger crisis than it needs to be at this moment in time. I want to get along with as many people as possible, but if getting along with you means that I have to agree to abandon what I consider to be necessary practices, then we’re going to have to agree to disagree. I may be naturally chaotic, but when it really matters, I set in place systems—and I adhere to them. I “do COVID” the way I do to protect myself and my loved ones—and to protect you.

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