Surviving lockdown and working from home

Lockdown life isn’t easy when you’re trying to work and be productive. Trust me. What started with 14 days here in Girona has turned into 37 days of total lockdown being stuck indoors, with no clear release in sight. Here’s my advice on how to survive lockdown, work from home and be relatively productive without going (too) crazy.

GET DRESSED

As appealing as it sounds to spend all day in your PJ’s, it gets old (and dirty) fast. When you look good you feel good it helps you to mentally get in the right frame of mind for the day – especially for a work day.

So even though no one may ‘see’ you, do it for yourself. It could mean putting on your ‘work clothes’ or a pair of heels, putting a bit of lipstick on. Its a physical act that will mentally get in the right frame of mind to be productive and more focused. Trust me it helps!

CREATE A DAILY TIMETABLE

You need to have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Even if it’s just because you wrote it on your to-do list.

Don’t just stare at the clock wishing for the days to pass, fill the time intentionally with things to do. I’ve found that over the past 6 weeks in lockdown creating a VERY strict schedule has helped me to stay mostly on track and get things done. I’ve had my bad wobble days like everyone yes.

But by having a clear plan of what I’m going to do each day, it’s mean that I’m less likely to get stuck in despair about the situation or feel overwhelmed.

MAKE WORK WORK AND REST REST

Speaking of timetables, try to get a bit of balance in there and block time for exercise, work, social, hobbies and rest.

When you’re working, work. Stay away from your phone and don’t get caught up with social media or texting your mates. Likewise, if you designate time to rest and socialise make sure you actually do that – don’t get sucked into checking your emails just ‘one more time’ or you’ll end up always slightly working but never fully resting. Try just to do one thing at a time.

In my experience, the weekends have been the worst as I try to rest and not work. My normal ways to rest and disconnect from work would be to ride my bike all day (outside), go hiking, go to the beach…. basically go and DO stuff that is all outside and currently not possible. Because we aren’t allowed outside here in Girona I’ve found myself more likely to end up working more when I need to rest and having to find alternative things to ‘do’ that don’t involve screens or work. I’m currently borrowing puzzles and keeping myself occupied with those in the evenings after work.

PLAN MEALS AND MEALTIMES

Food, nutrition and maintaining healthy eating in lockdown is a WHOLE other blog post in itself! Working from home your normal routines are altered, you’re closer to the fridge pantry, you’re moving much less and stress levels are much higher than normal.

For many people this means more snacking, more drinking and feeling more out of control of food, diet and health. I’ve found planning out my meals and my mealtimes for the week helps with the consistency of eating regularly. I normally wouldn’t eat out very often, but when all the cafe’s and restaurants are shut and you’re FORCED to cook every meal it can feel liks such a hassle sometimes. Having some leftovers in the freezer or a couple simple grab and go <10 minute meal options really helps avoid the default tea and toast diet.

If you want help getting on top of boredom or stress eating, make sure you sign up for my workshop this weekend. Saturday 25th April I have an online workshop all about surviving mindless eating in lockdown where I’ll be sharing all my nutrition tips, tricks and strategies to help keep you on track and in control of your food and nutrition in lockdown.

HAVE DESIGNATED WORK, REST, PLAY SPACES

Stuck at home all day it’s more important than ever to try and separate work, rest and play locations. As a self-confessed workaholic it can be a challenge to disconnect from work. But I have definitely found that making designated places to work from can help you associate that area with a certain task. This means that when you go into different spaces you automatically do different things there. So when you are in your ‘work place’ you work rather than being distracted by your phone.

Don’t work on the couch or in the bedroom if you can avoid it. Likewise, keep the screens out of the bedroom so you only associate that area with sleep. If you’re in a share house it may be more difficult to do this, but see how you can be creative. My boyfriend for example made his office desk inside his cupboard so that he didn’t have to work in the kitchen and be constantly disrupted by housemates.

WORK ON YOUR WEAKNESSES

What ONE area of weakness could you use the next few weeks to focus on improving?

For me, that’s sleep.

A lot of people right now are finding sleep more difficult, staying up later than normal and becoming more nocturnal. This is definitely a work in progress for me when it comes to sleep as I started to write this at 1:30am.

Tracking things helps you to raise awareness of your progress (or lack of). I’m building more consistency though by tracking my sleep habits in my TrainingPeaks so I (and my coach) can see how I’m progressing. While I still have odd blips in my sleep (like last night), my overall average hours asleep has definitely improved in the past 5 weeks.

I also want to get more consistent with stretching, but in my experience I’m more likely to stick with one thing in the long run than trying to build two or three new habits at the same time. Once I’ve conquered one, then I’ll add the next.

MAKE LIFE ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE AND FOCUS ON OTHER THINGS

I am the sort of person who does tend to see silver linings in all situations. That doesn’t mean I don’t get upset or anxious about it, but lockdown can be an opportunity to get on top of all those things you said you wanted to do ‘one day’ but never seem to be able to find the time to get done.

This could be learning a language, working on your guitar skills, sorting out all the paperwork in your office or clearing out your garage. Even if you only do 20 or 30 minutes a day, it will add up and is going to be 20 minutes more than you’d done the day before and all counts. Plus it helps give focus purpose and direction to your days.

START SMALL

My primary focus during this lockdown period is to get some serious work done on my Doctorate, which I want to have completed by summer. But there is a MASSIVE mountain of work still to be done. Over the past 5 weeks I have been transcribing over 50 interviews I had with elite and amateur athletes about their race nutrition practices. I FINALLY finished that on Friday – a week later than I had hoped for.

It turned out to take 116 hours in total to do that which was a mammoth task and seemed like an impossible task when I started. How did I do it? I started small. Real small.

Initially I set myself the goal of doing one interview a week of 15 minutes of audio at a time each day. It’s so easy to be discouraging on yourself and think that’s not good enough, but it’s the cumulative effect you’re looking for. One step leads to the next step which leads to the next step.

Just take that first step and do it consistently. Be it 5 minutes of language learning or yoga practice.

SCREEN FREE TIME

Working from home it’s so easy to spend almost your entire day staring at screens. You’re looking at your laptop all day for work, then your mobile in between to socialise and then ‘relax’ in front of the TV in the evenings. If you then start

For some people like myself, (especially when the ability to go outside is very restricted) this can cause a bit of anxiety always looking and absorbing information. I’ve found that taking intentional times out from my phone or screens to just sit on the balcony and watch the birds (preferably when the sun comes out), practicing a bit of yoga or working on a puzzle can help give my brain a bit of breathing space.

GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK

Finally we are not in normal times. So we shouldn’t expect ‘normal’ outputs, behaviours or productivity. That’s okay.

If you aren’t being as productive as you want or think you should be, that’s okay. There’s a lot going on right now, it’s stressful times and giving yourself more breathing space to cope and manage what’s going on right now might be just what you need.

Gemma

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