Happy New Year! Almost three months have passed since my last blog post entry and it feels like not much—yet, a lot—has happened in that time. To address the elephant in the room, I should mention that we’re two days into Lockdown 3. Essential shops are shut, schools are closed to all but key workers’ children and those that are vulnerable, and everybody is instructed to stay at home (if they can).
I’ve pretty much been working from home since March 2020 and a trip to Sainsbury’s can be the highlight of my week so Lockdown 3 (are we even calling it that?) doesn’t mean much change for me. I recognise how incredibly lucky I am to be able to work from home and that there’s still work coming in. I’m also incredibly grateful for good health, family and friends and hopefully, with vaccine roll-outs in swing, the light at the end of the tunnel will soon be shining a little brighter.
I made a few mistakes in the first lockdown (yes, we had a second lockdown but let’s be honest it was a half-baked attempt to curb the virus—Lockdown 3 is a different story with schools shut and a stricter ‘stay at home’ order). I really don’t want to repeat them and so I vow not to. Here are some things I’m going to avoid doing:
I’m a positive person, but my natural disposition is to worry. I don’t know if it’s a defence mechanism to avoid being caught off-guard or to try and divert whatever I fear from actually happening, but if my mind can entertain a worst-case scenario, it will. I should say it’s not debilitating—I function well, work hard, sleep with ease, maintain an appetite, enjoy life etc—but somewhere, deep down, some part of my brain is working overtime to prepare myself for anything bad that could come my way.
Usually, it’s a kind of hypochondria-style worry, about other people—namely, my mum and family—but sometimes it’s deep niggles about whether I’ve done the right thing or should have said or done this or that. But it’s wasted energy. I’ve been like this since I was a kid so this behaviour is ingrained, but I’m going to try harder to mitigate it and worry less about things that are either in the past or out of my control. What’s the use of worrying? It never was worthwhile.
2. Checking the news
This kind of ties into my first vow, but wow—checking the news incessantly is a real buzz-killer. This lockdown, I refuse to do it. And until two weeks ago, I was doing quite well. I checked news apps only a couple of times a day and while 5 Live was on somewhere in the background throughout the day, I generally focussed on content that was lifestyle-related or in the form of an enjoyable novel. But post-Christmas, I regressed.
Now that we’re in lockdown again and we kind of know where we stand (I’m trying very hard to be diplomatic and not pepper this post with political opinions, but boy is it hard in today’s times), I have no reason to keep refreshing my news apps or browsing pages. In the morning, I’ll be putting on my Radio Paradise – Mellow Mix, doing some stretches and making breakfast while Joni Mitchell and Neil Young sing sweetly in the background. I’ll give myself three windows in the day to check the news. In the past, I’ve managed this only by deleting the apps and coming off certain social media platforms. I may well have to do this again.
3. Stop getting distracted
Prior to lockdown, I rented office space and carried out all work from there. That separation really helped me to focus and compartmentalise and my productivity was way higher than the levels it gets to when working from home. (Disclaimer (in case clients are reading): I still get everything done, it just takes me a little longer).
But now, there’s not much choice. I’ve made some small changes to make working from home a little bit more successful including taking my workspace upstairs to avoid tackling deadlines from the dining room. But more needs to be done. Elizabeth Day, a writer I like, recommends an app that plays coffee shop background noise to work along to and I love the sound of that. I’m also going to restrict my screen-time, remove tempting apps from my phone and stick to a tight schedule so that my day’s work doesn’t bleed past 6 pm. Which it sometimes does—unnecessarily.
And that’s that. I also vow to update my blog more often, but work has been super-busy and continues to be as we step in 2021.
As December came to a close, I was working on three new projects, which I’ll be resuming soon and I’m so excited. I’ll update you on that next time. In the meantime, stay well! Talk soon x