In our new blog series ‘UNPRECEDENTED’ – we’re going to be hearing from a range of people who have different experiences of this global pandemic, and lockdown. Our aim is to give you an opportunity to read, think, and find some encouragement, inspiration or just community in knowing you’re not alone.

Susannah’s Story

Barely three months in to the year, I’ll be surprised if the word of 2020 isn’t ‘unprecedented’.

I have teacher friends who repeatedly told their teenage students that schools wouldn’t be shut, and nurse friends who were repeatedly told they’d never need protective gear to go to work. Yet all the absolutes are gone, and we power on.

As I cleared a few necessities from my desk, everything just felt odd. My colleagues weren’t there – I was leaving no one behind, yet there was a little bit of sadness* as I knew this might well be the situation for quite some time. I’ve worked from home intermittently throughout my career so far, but never something so long-term as this. No one has ever seen anything like this.

Susannah Works with the Careers and Enterprise Team at CCCU.

*let’s talk about sadness briefly. On further reflection and reading, it’s called grief, and you may feel it a bit too. Grief for things you can’t do, and people you can’t see. Grief for the things you won’t experience, or that you’ll have to wait some time to be able to. If someone we know was grieving someone they’d lost, we’d be kind to them.

We need to be kind to ourselves and each other in just the same ways at the moment. Perhaps you’re grieving your planned graduation date, or in missing your Uni friends and parties. I just want to let you know that if you’re grieving, that’s ok. You’re not alone. And, in times of grief, it’s still ok to smile, and laugh, and find things funny. It comes in waves. Look after yourself.

I’ve been attempting to settle in to working from home. The top tip I was given: routine. Both in my personal and professional worlds, I’ve tried to build in routine, even if they’re different from my pre-lockdown life. The time I start and stop working, my eating and sleeping patterns and what time I take my daily exercise (whoever knew that would be a novelty?!) I try to keep the same.

The main thing for me is the mornings, as it sets me up for the day. I check-in with friends isolated or living alone over Zoom (last week I thought this was an aeroplane noise, this week it’s a lifeline for team meetings and seeing family who feel too far away), then I’m ready to work. I try to get up and stretch often, although I’m not always good at remembering that bit when I’m engrossed in something.

I’m not inflexible with the routine, but I’m convinced it’s a balm to the mental health to try to build a new normal. Some days, routines haven’t worked, and that’s ok. But the sun still shines (I am so thankful for this lovely weather!) and we still have the chance to go and bask in that vitamin D.

I think that learning to switch the work laptop off, is as important as switching it on. Now more than ever we risk blurring boundaries between work and home. Can we work in a different space than we like to rest in? Or can we at least hide the laptop under the bed over the weekend? I’ve chosen to do the latter. Weekends need a new way to feel different, and I need to feel different within them.

I change my routine times at the weekend, and try to plan in activities to make my time distinct between work and rest. Last weekend I tried an online origami class – I was sent the materials in the post, then we all logged on at the same time, and the workshop began. It was a great chance to chat to people I’d never met before, and get a bit creative with learning a new skill. Check out my plant pot! 

What’s your routine?

What can you/ do you keep the same?

How do you make weekends different?

Keep looking after yourself and those around you.

We want to hear your stories! Tell us about your experience of working from home, any interviews or processes you’re going through…

Getting further support from The Careers and Enterprise Team at CCCU

You can get ongoing careers support via the following ways: