It’s hard to believe that it’s been another five weeks since I first wrote about adjusting to life spent mainly at home. Whilst I wouldn’t say that it seems completely normal now, it is certainly a lot less strange to live like this than it first felt.
How I’m doing
I split this into a few different topics based on the particular way that I have been affected. I’m very fortunate in many ways but it’s important for me to consider the good and bad aspects of my situation.
How the week feels now
Time is a strange construct these days. It’s not just me – there’s quite a lot of joking about checking the day of the week in society. This was certainly not helped by the May Day Bank Holiday being moved to a Friday to be replaced by a VE Day Bank Holiday.
Weekdays have a routine
Weekdays mean “work” (except for taking leave on Thursdays). For me, this means I get up early and aim to start by 7:00. I dress for work, even including a tie some days, and then tend to work straight through until the early afternoon. When there’s a lot to do, this works very well and I feel quite energised with a good sense of purpose about the morning. Conversely, when there is less to do, maintaining any sort of focus at all is difficult.
The benefit to working in this way is that I have more free time to spend in the afternoon and evening. Since a good part of that can be taken up by exercise, having the extra time means I don’t have to choose between exercise and other leisure.
The drawbacks of working in this way is that it seems to be very intense. It is not uncommon for me to feel utterly exhausted by about 15:00. Part of this is probably because I hit a natural low point at that time of day, but I also think that it highlights that work – that is, thinking – is hard and consumes a lot of my energy.
Weekends are odd
In contrast to the working week, weekends are difficult. There is much less structure and I think this is where I suffer. I can be incredibly enthused on Friday about the potential of the weekend, only to feel despair by Saturday afternoon at my apparent failure.
Oddly enough, the weekend is the part of my routine that is least altered by the lockdown situation. I am quite used to spending a weekend on my own, sometimes only heading out for a run. So I don’t understand what the problem is with this part of the week, but it is quite annoying.
Shopping is stressful
One of the big events of the week is the shopping trip. I only shop once a week and this works quite well. The shop has an excellent queuing arrangement, a limited number of customers inside at any time, plenty of space and queuing hasn’t taken very long. Despite all of this, shopping is the single thing I dread the most each week. I put it off, feel stressed before going, and feel exhausted when I come back.
The shopping experience itself is not too bad. I am cautious about keeping a safe distance from people, particularly those who are older or otherwise vulnerable (and I also don’t want to be seen as blasé by others). However, there are plenty of people who don’t seem to be as cautious as me. This is annoying but doesn’t worry me personally. Still, I am glad when it’s done for the week.
Exercise is great
Before we were required to stay at home, the prospect of not being allowed out to run caused me a lot of anxiety. Fortunately that didn’t happen and I have been able to run whenever I like. This has been fantastic for my mood.
I haven’t run much further than usual, but I do think I have run more often. Rather than running maybe four times a week before lockdown, I spent quite a few weeks running five or six days a week. I started to take more time off in May, but I’m pleased with the effort I’ve been able to put into my running.
Another major difference that the last eight weeks have allowed is that I have been able to spend time doing more strength and stability training. As a result of this, I feel much stronger as a runner.
Injury from the increased time spent running has been a concern for me, as I don’t want to be unable to run when I need to. Fortunately I have been free from injury so far, but there have been a few problem areas that I need to be careful with.
One downside of exercise being one of the few reasons for people to go outside has been the large increase in the number of people being outside for exercise! I normally prefer solitude as a runner, and having to dodge other people takes away some of the fun.
Productivity is poor
Of all the difficulties at the moment, not being busy is probably the hardest for me. I have a good work routine and a work ethic that would capitalise on that. Unfortunately, I am not busy enough to do that. I can find myself completing all my tasks well before 10:00, and the remaining hours are spent trying to do useful things. This is quite good sometimes, because it means I can catch up with lower priority work. It also allows me to research more widely and try to develop my skills. But it’s not the same as being busy.
When there is a lot to do, my days are brilliant. I can thrive on the work, working to my own timetable, and get so much work done in an efficient way. I just need to find more to do.
As I wrote previously, I am surprised at how well I seem to have adapted to this new way of life. Time will tell though, and I might eventually get bored with the routine. Right now, thinking about the future, I would like to incorporate at least some amount of remote working into my routine.