A few weeks ago I shared a few thoughts about life in lock-down. At that point I’d been working from home for four weeks and living in lock-down for just under three. Now we are into our sixth week of life in lock-down and it’s all starting to feel a lot more normal and familiar. In my last post I was still reacting to what was happening, whereas now I feel a bit more able to reflect on the current situation. James and I have spent a lot of time on our daily walks discussing if and what the world will learn from this period of time and how it might adapt accordingly. But I think there’s a lot that we can take which starts with us as individuals before we start to think about what big businesses and governments might learn.
Lesson 1: Noticing the seasons
I love being outside and one of the things I’m finding hardest about lock-down is the fact we’re restricted to where we can go and how much time we should be spending outside, particularly when the weather has been so good. However, despite this I’m beginning to realise that I don’t pay a huge amount of notice to the small changes around me. In the time we’ve been in lock-down so far the trees outside our window have gone from tiny buds to fully green and flowering. There are blossom trees we’ve admired opening up, in full bloom and now are past their best.
One day we took a tree-spotting guide around our local green area and as a result I’m paying a lot more notice to the trees around us and the changes in them as their leaves have unfurled. Nature seems to be thriving at the moment and I’m grateful that we’re able to enjoy it.
Lesson 2: Working from home
If someone had asked me at the start of the year to start working from home more regularly, I probably would have jumped at the opportunity. I’ve found myself feeling strangely drawn to the idea of working remotely for a while although I hadn’t expected that this would become the new normal. When I was in a different job I used to work from home once a month so I could concentrate on a very specific task away from the office and I loved it. I could go out for a walk with the dog at lunch time, I could start and stop when best suited me and if I wasn’t in the office people wouldn’t make as much effort to try and get hold of me so I was really productive. I probably look back at this time with rose-tinted glasses on…
What I’ve come to realise is although there are some benefits to working from home, I prefer to be in the office (at least for most of the time). I don’t like battling with technology and connectivity issues, having to make myself heard in Skype meetings over my old laptop’s loud fan or not seeing people in person. I miss casual chats in the office and my walking commute. It’s certainly made me think twice at looking for jobs in the future which are based around remote-working, or about working freelance which were both things I thought at one point I might want to do in the future.
Lesson 3: Food
I love food. I enjoy cooking. I like discovering new recipes. I knew all this before lock-down but now my whole life seems to revolve around food. I’ve barely finished breakfast and I’m considering what we should eat for dinner. I’ve flicked through recipe books I’d forgotten I had for inspiration and I’ve enjoyed taking time over cooking rather than rushing something when I get home after a long day.
One of my favourite things about working from home has been having access to our kitchen, which means my lunches are now much more interesting and varied than either the soup or salad which I would have taken to the office. James and I got a fantastic curry set for Christmas, which I should write about at some point because it has been incredible, and it probably would have taken us a lot longer to work through the number of recipes that we’ve tried. Although I’m not enjoying the food shopping part of my new love affair with the kitchen, it’s great trying out different things and having a fridge full of options.
Lesson 4: Connectivity
It sounds silly given that we can’t actually see anyone in person currently, but I actually feel better connected to a lot of people than I am usually. It’s just highlighted how ridiculous it is that we aren’t that connected the rest of the time as the technology has been there for a while, I just haven’t used it. Although I do have a limit for video calls (how many I do and also how long they last) it’s been nice connecting friends in lots of different places or having Skype dinner with my parents. Each conversation usually ends along the lines of “Why haven’t we thought of this before?” and agreement that we should do it again.
Thanks to time in lock-down I have spoken to people I haven’t spoken to in years, made the effort to phone my grandparents and had a tour of a friend’s new flat (which I probably wouldn’t have seen for months until I found the time to go and visit). Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the same as seeing people in person but it has made me re-evaluate things slightly. I always try to put effort into visiting people in lots of different places, feeling guilty if I haven’t been somewhere in a while. Now I’m wondering if instead of tiring myself out, it might be better to cut down on a few trips and make more of an effort the rest of the time.
Lesson 5: Take time for yourself
James and I have realised for a while now that we’re not that good at spending time in our flat separately. Because we have separate jobs, and different hobbies, there are some weeks where sometimes we don’t see much of each other at all and so the time we have together at home is precious. When you’re spending all day every day together at home, that doesn’t become so much of an issue and occasionally you get under each other’s feet. As a result, we’ve got much better at spending time in the same place doing different things. I blog whilst James plays a video game, or he draws whilst I read. It’s been beneficial and hopefully something we’ll continue to be good at.
Lesson 6: Life in the slow lane isn’t bad
I have said countless times that I’m not very good at having an empty diary. I fill my time with seeing people and doing things, and am quite bad for considering time not doing very much as time wasted. However, when there’s no need to rush between things it doesn’t really matter how long something takes. Spending an afternoon baking bread? Why not – it’s not like there’s anything else to do?! An hour sat on a beanbag in the sun reading before dinner – if you’ve already had your time outside for the day you might as well sit and enjoy yourself. We usually complain that the year whizzes by faster each year, and now it feels as if time has slowed down again. It’s taken a while, but I’m learning to appreciate life in a slightly slower lane and hope I will learn from this when things become more normal.
What have you taken from time in lock-down? What will you do differently afterwards?