[Question] How to optimize my time fighting COVID-19?

Hi all, I could use some ad­vice. I care a lot about hav­ing a pos­i­tive im­pact on the world through my work, and over the past few years, I’ve tried hard to put my­self in a po­si­tion to be of ser­vice in a mo­ment when our in­sti­tu­tions are strug­gling to make effec­tive de­ci­sions that carry huge con­se­quences in the face of great un­cer­tainty. And yet now that such a mo­ment has ar­rived, I find my­self feel­ing in­cred­ibly frus­trated at how lit­tle I am ca­pa­ble of helping, be­cause this crisis seems al­most sur­gi­cally de­signed to im­mo­bi­lize par­ents of small chil­dren (of which I have two). We are all healthy and safe for the time be­ing, but with no third-party care­tak­ers to lean on I am lucky if I can man­age even three hours of con­cen­trated work time a day, and that is with my wife still on ma­ter­nity leave from her job. In ad­di­tion, while I have ac­cess to sev­eral mean­ingful as­sets (see be­low), I don’t have a lot of rele­vant do­main ex­per­tise or con­nec­tions to pub­lic health de­ci­sion-mak­ers. So I am strug­gling both with very limited time and band­width to work on this and a lack of clar­ity around how best to pri­ori­tize the time I do have.

Here are some as­sets I am the­o­ret­i­cally able to bring to the table:

  • Gen­eral in­tel­li­gence and strong strate­gic think­ing capabilities

  • Direct or sec­ond-de­gree con­nec­tions to a wide net­work of de­ci­sion-mak­ers at im­por­tant in­sti­tu­tions, es­pe­cially among US foundations

  • Ex­per­tise in syn­the­siz­ing re­search (with the caveat that my knowl­edge of biomed­i­cal re­search is limited)

  • Ex­per­tise in coach­ing or oth­er­wise as­sist­ing teams to in­te­grate ev­i­dence into their de­ci­sion-making

  • Ex­per­tise in mod­el­ing risk and policy decisions

  • A promi­nent voice in a small com­mu­nity of do-good­ing young adults with time and smarts on their hands

I would wel­come any thoughts or sug­ges­tions re­lat­ing to the fol­low­ing:

  • How to think about bal­anc­ing my re­spon­si­bil­ity to the world (huge scope, but widely dis­tributed bur­den of care) against my re­spon­si­bil­ity to my chil­dren (tiny scope, but bur­den of care al­most en­tirely con­cen­trated on me and my wife)

  • Strate­gies to cre­ate more time for work with­out harm­ing my kids’ health, men­tal wellbe­ing, or so­cio-emo­tional de­vel­op­ment, par­tic­u­larly my adult-at­ten­tion-crav­ing 5-year-old

  • Strate­gies to mo­bi­lize the com­mu­ni­ties where I have cred­i­bil­ity in ways that are ex­tremely time-effi­cient and likely to lead to good outcomes

  • Prob­lems that are es­pe­cially im­por­tant right now that could benefit from my ex­per­tise or other as­sets I list above, even af­ter tak­ing time con­straints into account

  • How to judge when I am in dan­ger of over­stretch­ing my abil­ity to give peo­ple smart ad­vice or take effec­tive ac­tion in the ab­sence of deep knowl­edge of epi­demiol­ogy and pub­lic health

Note that when it comes to the first two items above, I’m mostly (but not ex­clu­sively) in­ter­ested in hear­ing per­spec­tives from fel­low par­ents. If you offer an opinion on these items, please say whether you are speak­ing from ex­pe­rience. Thanks!

No answers.