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Keeping it real, and keeping a routine.

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Keeping it real, and keeping a routine.

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

That’s why, on the Careers & Enterprise blog, I’ve begun a new series reflecting the situation under that name – UNPRECEDENTED. I encourage you to check it out for some great encouragements and reflections (or just to be nosey…) but back to my blog…

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.

A few weeks ago 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.

*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 those around us in just the same ways at the moment. Perhaps you’re grieving your planned holidays, or in missing your family, friends, colleagues or social gatherings. 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. It’s ok to find this time hard, or confusing. (I’m not just saying this in an airy way, but I speak from experience: on my list of madness is my wedding scheduled in June…)

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 month I thought this was an aeroplane noise, this week it’s a lifeline for 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 calm 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 I made in the photo at the top of this page! 

Tomorrow, I will share some great tools we have on our Careers and Enterprise Hub that are available for you to use as well as our students. So don’t forget to come back and check that out!

Susannah Taylor, Employability and Skills Officer

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