So, I have to come clean. I’m a bit of a fraud when it comes to taking my own advice. Let me explain.
It has been one year and here we are. The market hurtled towards it’s bottom and the west watched in horror and awe as a silent enemy made it’s way across Europe. Here in the UK, we went in to lockdown and looking at the data at the time, we could have never have known we would be back in to lockdown for a second and third time. How would we have predicted a year ago that we would have seen the deleterious effects of not only the virus, but the real long-term problem, the degrading effects of locking a free people down and shutting down life as we know it?
Exactly a year ago I started my blog, “coinciding” with having a bit of spare time on my hands. I thought it was best to kick off with writing my first article Make Your Abode The Inner Sanctum During COVID-19. I recall putting the article through the drafts, having it proof read by friends and proudly publishing it for all to see. Just like that, I was now an official lockdown expert, blissfully spilling out all the best-case-scenario advice for all to observe while stuck at home.
In what has been a year of many personal lessons and experiences I would have not expected, here is my report card on how I heeded my own advice. Why not do your own report card and review yourself as I do mine? Simply go to my previous article for reference or play along with my review below as the titles are self-explanatory: All Ratings/5.
1. Stay (Virtually) Social
I originally advocated for maintain your social and meet-up groups by utilising Video Conference (VC). Upon reflecting on this, tech has been the only tool that a lot of us have had to rely on, but aren't we sick of a two-dimensional screen filled with pixels and polygons when it comes to human interaction?
Aside from the mandatory VC calls that come with work, I had regular calls with colleagues outside of work-chat and shared a number of messages of speculation about what we were to expect as the next business decision. Personally, I made sure I had regular calls home to my family and friends, and I did make sure I had virtual interactions with new people. I noticed a real novelty around the first lockdown that had people unashamedly and freely jumping on some sort of virtual video call for a serendipitous chat, which has lost as much of the novelty.
For my blog, I started a series of Podcasts which was a great new challenge and a way to connect with new people and speak to old friends. One mainstay for me was my Virtual Toastmasters meeting with my Local London Athenians group. I performed a number of functionary roles and speeches to work on my speaking ability.
Could I have done more. Sure! I think I did pretty well in this area overall. Overall Section Score: 4/5
2. Generate your own joy
I had the privilege of a free account to the Headspace App for the most part of the year before it expired, and I smashed out a significant amount of time on it. I have always had a back-catalogue of meditation tapes and I always got at least 3 sessions a week in minimum. That as well as starting to try hylotropic breathing made for a decent amount of activity. I am not really sure what all of it did though.
Write it down (Poetry, music, drawing, painting or whatever you please, just put it to “paper”). 4/5
I have definitely established a habit of recording down my thoughts using a 5 Minute Journaling technique, alongside a new addition this year of the Daily Stoic Journal. Giving me a daily habit of putting thoughts and lessons to paper. Finally, here I am writing my blog’s 9th article, so something stuck!
Begin (or rekindle) that hobby 4/5
So I began this blog, I started to study value investing and learn Spanish. That was more than enough to keep me busy. It was actually too much, but I have had some great feedback about my blog’s articles, how-to videos and Podcasts, which has been a bit of work but rewarding overall. For Spanish, I got a little obsessed with the App; Duolingo, which is only one aspect of learning Spanish. I also had lessons with a friend and got to put my Spanish speaking to the test speaking to my partner and her family and friends. Finally, I became one of the millions on new retail investors who jumped in on the stock market, thanks to new zero-commission platforms like Etoro. I still don’t know what I’m doing and I also won’t labour the topic, with the risk of being put in the same basket as the new-age Crypto/Meme Stock crowd.
Take regular breaks. 4/5
From the start of lockdown, I was forced to take leave and eventually furloughed. Does that say enough about “breaks”? If not, if I am honest with myself, I stated to obsess over a totally new schedule due to my furlough, which I will cover later. In all seriousness, for anyone that experienced furlough, getting 40–50 hours back a week for a prolonged time and told not to do anything, is an experience, to say the least. Overall Section Score: 4/5
3. Diet and exercise
Move your body. 3.5/5
Although all my walking, running and cycling averages are down from 2019 to 2020, I still made sure I did something, however it was really hard to keep up motivation with gyms closed and the horrible winder weather that Blighty brings. Lets just say, seasonally speaking, that for the first 6 months I was on fire and the last 6, not so much.
Set eating boundaries. 3.5/5
Home-cooked meals have been really nice and we cooked some amazing healthy food, with little to no take-out. My biggest problem was the compulsive visits to the fridge, stuffing my face with whatever high-calorie snacks presented themselves. My biggest weakness, aside from that other thing, in liquid form…
Moderation is key. 3.5/5
As I write this, I am nearing the end of 12 weeks of abstinence from alcohol. It’s something that inaugurated last year and I finished my 12 weeks exactly this time last year literally as Lockdown started and was boarding the last “virus free” flight out of Italy. I have been open in writing about the throws of drinking culture in countries like the UK & Australia and I can empathise with people that get bored indoors looking to take the edge off. What happened after my 12 week break finished in 2020, was slowly but surely see my intake creep back up again, peaking at new years eve. So on the basis of my advice based on the measure of moderation, my all-or-nothing approach needs further investigation. Overall Section Score: 3.5/5
4. Schedule and routine
Set up the home mini-office 3/5
I made my hobbies a full-time job, which is actually hilarious looking back. In my tiny flat in London, we only had two spaces to work from, the lounge and coffee table or the dining table. I was so transient between the spaces and slack on anything rigid. Upon reflection, you can have your luxury gamers chair, 5 monitors and all the bells and whistles; all I need is a laptop, a seat and a table.
Don’t compromise on getting things done 4/5
I found this the most interesting topic of lockdown. I asked productivity experts, entrepreneurs, coaches and friends this question in my podcast and in conversation and there is no on solution to getting things done. I got things done, but I ended up drowning in tasks and creating unrealistic goals, metrics and a schedule that was a clear compromise to make up for having too much time to spare. As much as I made a lot of progress, I missed the journey because I was too anchored in huffing and puffing, red-faced to the final destination. Upon reflection, there is a certain flow and grace that comes with getting things done, not all the time, but who wants to shoot themselves in their proverbial goal foot with a productivity gun.
Still dress up for the day. 2/5
I tried, I really did, but mainly failed. This was so hard to do every day when going from bed, to living room. The act of putting on a nice ensemble to stay at home is so simple, but ends up feeling so futile. Even now I only have about 5 outfits on rotation day-in-day out (I am sure that if my colleagues have not cottoned on, they now know). We, as people want comfort and I truly believe that this pandemic has relaxed how we dress for work and play more than ever.
Reclaim your time: 4.5/5
Being furloughed, I won’t labour the point, but I got back time and some. As I wrote about in the Getting Things Done section, I managed to fill empty time with a lot of stuff! Getting so much time back is actually overwhelming and as much as I think I used it relatively well, I really could have done with savouring the moment more, taking the time to stop and chill and not be so hard on myself. The bright side was that there was a lot of time to do what I wanted, which was a blessing and a testament to that was the endless spring and summer that provided a full day of doing whatever I wished. For which I also used that time well.
Take a tech break: 3/5
In summary, I was not great at this. As a lot of us, I was more tethered myself to devices than ever before. Most smart devices offer monitoring stats and my weekly screen time clocks in at 50–60 hours a week. I’m still working on this one and very aware of how beneficial it is as a tool, but if abused it saps so much from us. Overall Section Score: 3.5/5
5. Things to avoid
I put a little quick-fire part at the end of the article about things we needed to avoid. This rating is how well I avoided each part/5.
- Getting obsessed with news-feeds and social media: My Rating: 2.5/5
- Considering misinformation as true sources of information: My Rating: 4/5
- Overthinking and creating unnecessary scenarios in your mind: My Rating: 2.5/5
- Wasting this opportune time by doing nothing different or better: My Rating: 3.5/5
- Panic buying: My Rating: 5/5
- Thinking you are alone in this: My Rating: 4/5
In conclusion, I am giving myself a harsh 3.5/5 as my total overall score. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, ironically to this score, I was hard on myself about having to stick to my own advice, which I ultimately had trouble following anyway. I am a human and not a machine after all. Though there were many highs and lows throughout all that I did over the year, there were 5 key things that, upon reflection, that are slightly better advice. First, lets try that title again:
Original Title of the article: Make Your Abode The Inner Sanctum During COVID-19
The title edit after review:
The new and true title:
You’re The Inner Sanctum
Here are the new 5 top points to rate myself against moving forward:
- Be kind to yourself and care for yourself
- Do whatever makes you happy
- Savour the moment
- Quality over Quantity
- Get some rest
How did you get on? Please let me know!