With the introduction of the second lockdown last week for those in England I thought it was time to share my top tips for survival.
Recently my daughter had to have a COVID-19 test, which thankfully was negative. She had a sore throat which made her cough. In previous years she would have gone to school but that is no longer an option, as the school would have been rightly concerned & insisted she was tested.
During the first lockdown I found it easy to cope, mainly because as an introvert I am very happy staying at home. But as soon as you throw into the equation the possibility that she may have COVID-19 it becomes a totally different ballgame. The panic set in of what if (just to put this into perspective, I wasn’t convinced she did have it) but that little nagging doubt did creep in, thankfully her results did come back within 36 hours and our sense of normal life returned.
Anyway, back to my top tips.
Plan your day
Get up at a regular time, try to set a routine. Although I get up at 6.30 am for my morning commute – yes just down the stairs! I am not able to eat breakfast at that time, so will often have my breakfast at around 9 am. Make it work for you. As a creature of habit, I like to eat at regular times and this routine helps me break up the day.
Set up your workspace
Working on your sofa is not a long term option. Someone even told me they were working from their bed, although this one was a little hard to understand when they told me they had a table they could use! In an ideal world you would have your own workspace, but any decent table will do for now. Tips I have seen is getting a big box and packing it all away at the end of the day. I dream of the day when I can have a dedicated office but for now, I have my own space in an alcove, set up with everything I need to run my business.
A good chair is essential. Like shoes, chairs, take time to get used to. Over the years I have gone through a number of different ones and my current one is a fabric office chair with arms and is adjustable in height and the back mechanism tilts. The week I bought this chair I also bought my daughter a different one, by the end of the week I felt like I had a degree in interpreting awful diagrams and non-existent instructions! There were tantrums (from me) & bruises from trying to carry the parts upstairs. Who knew how heavy a chair can be even when it’s in bits?
For me noise cancelling headphones are a must. I own a set for my computer but also for my phone. The ability to type or write and avoid a frozen shoulder from holding phones under your ear are underrated. You don’t need really expensive ones but read the reviews. Last year I bought a set but they were so heavy they ended up going to the local charity shop as they were not comfortable.
I am very short-sighted and needed varifocals (christened by my 7 year old at the time as fairyfocals) very early in my 40’s, getting the lighting right has probably been the hardest thing for me. What works for a few months changes regularly. At this time of the year when some days are very dark I use a different combination to the height of summer. Ideally natural light is the best and sitting by a window is ideal. I don’t have that luxury so have mimicked day light above my desk, with bright white light and then I have a daylight lamp attached to my computer, which allows me to vary the brightness and change the intensity of the light as I need to. At the moment this is working but when I start to get headaches I check my lighting and adjust it until it is comfortable again.
Dealing with Monotony
Last lockdown it was spring into summer – we had hope and bright sunny days. This time we are heading rapidly to the shortest day. This feels gloomy, so when I am doing the same sort of tasks I try to break them up, I add in taking time to go outside – it is usually only to put the washing out but it still helps. I am also a someone who loves to snack, so will reach for snacks (not always healthy ones)!
Staying Warm & Comfortable
I hate being cold with a passion, so the key for me is layers – the more the better. Yes, I wear thermals to keep warm. I know of people who wear fingerless gloves when they are working & woolly hats, anything to avoid putting the heating on in their office! I am also a massive fan of slippers. I spend more on slippers than the average person and depending on the season as to what I am modelling! Not that you’ll ever know as you will only ever see my top half on video calls! I also keep a heater where I work for those cold days – why heat the whole house when it is only you.
This time, we can leave for as much exercise as we want. I am a fair weather exerciser. You will never find me willingly leaving the house on rainy days. I love to exercise at home and have a Personal Trainer – the only person who gets to tell me what to do and when, & I don’t complain!
I am a pacer and when I am on phone calls will happily walk around. Who knew you can do over 4000 steps just walking around the inside of your house? The downside to this is you can’t do it when you need to take the minutes for a meeting!
As someone who has worked at home for over 10 years this is my least favourite time of year and to get me through the next month I am ordering small things like seeds as something to nurture and look forward to next spring.
I am a small business Virtual Assistant and run my business freeing people up to do what they do best, while loving the paperwork you hate!