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Home Working and Lockdown Survival Guide

Oh no, not another Coronavirus related post!  Yep, it sure is, but this time I'm not going technical.  My social media feeds are full of people who seem to be losing their minds working from home (or being furloughed) and I have, for the most part, been totally baffled by their reaction to what for me at least, is pretty much normality!

I've spent years working from home, in fact, the only thing that's different about it for me is the lack of actual billable business that I am doing.  Well, that and the fact that I have the rest of my family at home here too.  That bit is particularly odd and, at times, distracting too.

Seeing people complain about "these four walls" and "having nobody to talk to" or even "missing the noise of the office" is not something that I've even considered as a problem.

Sure, the minimal commute between "home office" and the kitchen doesn't always make decompression easy.  Particularly if I've been getting stuck into a particularly difficult problem, only to be instantaneously confronted with a domestic issue to resolve, but other than that... "lockdown" has barely altered my days.  So, why is this?

I think the reason for me, is that nothing much has changed.  My day pre lock-down went very much like this:

  • Get up
  • Sort out the dogs (clear up whatever carnage they created overnight... could be ruined bedding, could be half-eaten poo... it's a surprise every day!), wash their bowls, feed them...
  • Clear up any remaining dishes from the previous evening
  • Empty the dishwasher
  • Wipe the worktops
  • Make a coffee (for Rachel, not for me!)
  • Get my own breakfast whilst arguing with the news
  • Bathroom routine (count yourselves lucky I'm not going into the details!)
  • Get dressed
  • Start work

My post-lockdown routine looks very much... well... exactly the same.  And I think that is why it's not caused me too many problems, psychologically speaking that is. Financially, I'll be in the same sorry state as mostly everyone else.

How important is routine?

These articles talk about the importance of routine.  This article from The Independent (https://www.independent.co.uk/extras/lifestyle/british-people-same-routine-week-weekends-trapped-study-a8511256.html) talks of a survey of British people that shows 40% stick to the same routine every day!  Boring right?

https://thoughtcatalog.com/brianna-wiest/2015/10/the-psychology-of-daily-routine-7-reasons-why-people-who-do-the-same-things-each-day-tend-to-be-happier-than-those-who-chase-adventure/

https://www.blurtitout.org/2018/11/08/mental-health-benefits-routine/

So, I do wonder, whether in these extraordinary times, if those people who suddenly find themselves involuntarily outside of their enforced daily routine are actually, unknowingly missing that very thing. A regular script to follow, a structure to their days. The peace of mind that goes with knowing what is coming next.

Are they getting up each day, depressing themselves by watching a continuous news broadcast which highlights all of the bad things going on in the world? The increasing daily death count, the constant comparisons between how our own country is dealing with the situation compared with others who seem to be doing so much better.

Then there's Social Media, wow, that's pretty depressing. A vast majority of my connections and those I see posting in the many Covid-19 related groups are either moaning about their neighbours or airing their very real worries and concerns. Fuelled by reading about everyone else’s worries and concerns.

How about considering what your routine could look like and getting some of that back into your life?

Workday Routine

My workday has certainly lost some of its structure, but on the whole, I’d say it looks a bit like this:

  • Check emails
  • Read some articles (usually cybersecurity related, but also general business such as social media management, marketing and strategy)
  • Prepare some social media posts
  • Training (I have a huge list of online training courses to complete)
  • Check emails
  • Offer help on forums and groups, there's plenty of people looking for advice out there, so why not spend some time helping?
  • Work on some customer projects or support tickets
  • Read a book
  • Check emails
  • Walk the dogs
  • Check business social media progress / get depressed at lack of progress!

It's not always exactly like this, but a slight variation of the above.

How could you structure your day? Can you come out of lockdown with some new skills and knowledge? It would be a real shame if all you took away from this experience is the knowledge that you "completed Netflix".

For the Furloughed

And if you are furloughed, there's surely still plenty you can do other than veg out right? And even if you are keeping yourself busy, could introducing routine be the thing that helps your wellbeing?

I know for one thing, our diet has improved during lockdown. I always enjoyed cooking, but over the last three weeks, I don't think we as a family have ever eaten better! Home cooked meals twice a day, every day (with the odd exception where we've resorted to the freezer!).

Having the time to shop and think about meal preparation has been the key here. Pre-lockdown life was so busy, with kids’ activities, gym, kickboxing classes, family visits, football matches and who remembers what else! Now I've had the time to try out new recipes and make meals from scratch, every day, finding new favourite dishes... it's been great.

So, what could a furloughed daily routine look like?

  • Get up, feed the dogs, blah blah blah
  • Exercise! We're all encouraged to go out once a day for our daily exercise, but frankly, why limit your exercise to once a day? There's so much exercise you can do at home too. Ever heard of Plyometrics? Try a Plyometrics Home workout from Shape! https://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/plyometric-workout-add-some-spring-your-step
  • Bake! Many of us are getting fatter anyway, might as well do it whilst having the satisfaction of enjoying our own creations!
  • Sort out the house (and show the world whilst you're at it!)
  • Make some lunch
  • Learn to paint / draw (insert your preferred arts and crafts here)
  • Learn a language - If you've not heard of Duolingo yet, you can thank me later!
  • Read a book! There are literally millions of them!
  • Podcasts! Have you discovered Podcasts yet? They're brilliant! You can learn, be entertained, be informed! All whilst you do some boring stuff like gardening! (Opinions might vary!)
  • Video call a family member of friend - It's still not coming naturally to me, but I am getting there. This is one habit which I might well form by the end of lockdown.

Your routines and suggestions?

I'd love to hear more suggestions for how the day could be structured - but from what I believe, the key here is to have the routine, to follow a structure each day so you know what you're doing and when.

It might just save your sanity.

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