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11.01.2021- Planning Hacks for Lockdown Life

One week down...how is everyone doing? I'm flitting between just about managing and staring into a void of existential despair, as I'm sure so many people are just at the moment. It definitely feels like everything at the moment is very much two steps forward, three steps back and the combination of January with a third lockdown is a pretty bleak one, as much as all of us know that it's the only way to make it through. I've been trying to be quite strict with myself in terms of news consumption lately, and am attempting to focus on those little glimmers of positivity where possible, although I know it's very difficult at times not to feel overwhelmed and angry about the situation we now find ourselves in. It's really tough. But, I've realised that channeling my energy towards the good stuff is essential and that all I can control about this is my own actions- getting through one day, hour, minute at a time. 

One thing which has really helped me through each of the lockdowns which we've been through so far has been creating a sense of structure from week to week. After being furloughed back in April 2020 (all those years ago!), filling my time has been an absolutely essential tool to get through. I wouldn't say I'm a planning expert by any stretch of the imagination, but these little hacks have really helped me so far:

- Plan by week, and then by day.
On a Sunday evening, I'll sit down with my planner and plot in all of the things I've got to do across the week ahead. These tasks vary from the mundane (ironing, cleaning) to the admin (shredding, replying to emails, applying for jobs) to the creative (blogging and taking photos). Listing everything out day by day is a great way to visualise how my time is looking, and really helpful for identifying gaps which I can plug with other jobs or nice activities. 

- Don't feel compelled to be productive.
At the start of lockdown one almost a year ago, I remember there being a deluge of content all about how to capitalise on the enforced period of staying at home, whether that would be with a morning workout, crafting away or channeling your energy towards sorting your clothes/books/pants. In those early days, I felt very guilty about not getting round to all of those niggly little projects which I'd been putting off for actual years, and had never found the time for when I was working full-time. Spoiler alert: the reason you don't do these things is not because you don't have time- it's usually because you don't have the inclination. So please don't feel guilty about not living your most productive life- these are exceptional times, and each of us needs to be kind to ourselves to make it through. 

- Make time for self-care. 
How many of us are guilty of sacrificing our self-care in favour of another thirty minutes in front of the screen? I know I've experienced this time and time again- starting the day with the best of intentions to round it off with a bit of yoga, a bath and a facemask, only to find that my tendency to procrastinate (or in 2020/21, to doomscroll) leaves me with with only a little bit of time for a quick shower before dinner. I'm making a concerted effort to commit to what I need to do for myself this time around, even going so far as plotting my self-care for the week into my planner. So far, so good!

- Make the day work for you.
Although the days are gradually getting lighter and lighter (thank you universe!), by the end of the working day it's still pitch dark outside. Combine that with the chilly weather, and the chances are that you won't really feel hugely incentivised to move your body and get some fresh air. However, switching up your day a little bit is a great way to capitalise on the sunshine and soak up some nature- whether that's a mid-morning stroll around the block, longer lunchtime walk or a getting your step count up at sunset. Step away from your screen and step outside as often as you can. 

- Focus on small goals.
Let's face it, this isn't really the time to be making any life-changing promises to yourself. With our ability to forward plan hugely curtailed just at the moment, I'm focusing on the little achievements which I can tick off the list, whether that's finding a new running route, finishing a book or doing something to keep my brain ticking over like an online course. Celebrate the small achievements and focus on the micro- the macro will (hopefully) take care of itself!

These are by no means failsafe strategies, but are the little things which I've found really helpful over the last ten months or so. 

How are you finding life at the moment?

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.) 

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