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Day in the life: Working from home

Oh how life has changed in a year. Pre-COVID-19 I would have worked in an office, delivered face to face training and would be out and about, rarely at home. Since working remotely, my routines and practices have changed quite a lot and they are evolving all the time. I would have pretty good strategies for supporting my own mental health and these have been developed over years of trial and error. Connecting with others, sport and nature are key things for me. Each in their own way revive and replenish me!

I think this lockdown for me has been by far the toughest. I am doing all the ‘right things’ and yet I now notice my energy and motivation levels are lower and I have noticed a dip in mood. What I have learnt particularly with COVID-19 and more so during periods of lockdown, is that my mental health and well-being is something that I have to work at, every day.

So here is a day in my life, working from home, during lockdown…

5.30am I usually wake long before the alarm is due to go off. I am finding I am more tired now and I take this opportunity to rest. With the dark mornings I am not persuaded to get up yet, so I turn on the radio and let the music and the chat drift through my mind. The mornings are starting to become a little brighter, I might begin to build in a short walk as my new commute!

6.45am Shower, dry hair, makeup and get dressed. Regardless of how I feel, once I do this morning routine, I am more prepared for the day ahead.

7.30am Breakfast, check personal emails, respond to text messages and a quick tidy around the house. I cannot do without breakfast which is usually porridge and fruit.

I always have a food plan for the week and shop/cook in bulk. There is always a supply of soups, dinners and cakes in the freezer. At the weekends I love to bake and whatever doesn’t fit in the freezer I deliver to nearby family and friends. For the moment it’s the next best thing to having people to my home to sit chat and enjoy the end product! With baking, I find it a really good way to switch off and focus purely on the task at hand. It always brings back lovely childhood memories of baking with mum.

8.30am Start of the working day. I light a white candle and turn on instrumental piano music which plays throughout day when I am not delivering training or in meetings. The candle and soft music bring peace and comfort to my workspace. I respond to emails and voicemails. I am delivering training all week and I send the last of the reminders and Zoom links to volunteers. I check my plan for the day and make the necessary adjustment as new tasks emerge.

8.50am Quick check in call with Service Manager about a risk issue

9.15am This week I am delivering refresher training to our existing volunteers. I have five sessions to deliver. I review the PowerPoints, training notes and check I have everything I need. I talk a lot in my job, so I have a supply of water at hand (usually drink about 2 litres a day). I open the Zoom room and volunteers filter in, and we have a chat as people are settling in.

9.30am Deliver refresher training via Zoom.

12.15pm Training is complete. I need a break away from the PC, so I grab a quick cuppa and fruit. Feeling very stiff and creaky so I do a few little stretches while the kettle is boiling!

12.30pm Have a meeting with a Service Manager about upcoming training for their service – we do a needs analysis and look at appropriate dates for delivery.

1pm Hungry for lunch, but the phone rings. It is a potential volunteer who is looking for information on the various volunteering roles. We talk through the volunteering options, commitment needs and training.

1.15pm Need to get moving, so I head out for 30-minute walk and then have lunch. Today it’s soup from the freezer with brown bread. I am doing less intense exercise during lockdown, so I am conscious of what I eat during the week.

2.15pm Monthly Service Meeting, we are planning upcoming events for volunteers.

3.15pm Grab a quick cuppa and step into the garden for some fresh air.

3.30pm I get stuck into developing/writing content for upcoming training.

4.55pm Take the last look at emails and check voicemail before the day is out. Set my plan for tomorrow…

5pm Sign off work for the day

5.20pm For my ‘commute home’ I walk the East Pier in Dun Laoghaire, headphones on and whatever the weather, off I go. This time allows me the opportunity to think through and process ideas on training, volunteer engagement and so on. A lot of my ideas come to me when I am away from the desk, usually when walking by the sea.

6.30pm Dinner… it’s fish and vegetables this evening.

7pm Make a quick soup with vegetables that look like they won’t last much longer! When done I pop it into the freezer for another days eating.

7.30pm I am on the committee in my tennis club (Lady Captain) and even though the club is closed, I am planning tennis events for when we can get back to play. One evening per week is dedicated to this. During lockdown I take this time to reach out to members who joined in 2020. This helps me plan events according to the standard of play, etc.

8.30pm I give my folks a ring to see how their day went. We talk every day and I see them at the weekends. I am very lucky I get to spend time with them as they live close by. I usually have tea and cake as we chat away.

9pm Never watched the news so much as I have done since COVID-19. I have one eye on the TV and the other sorting out my online banking and picking paint colours for the kitchen and living room. I am home so much more I am finally getting around to doing jobs that I have kicked to touch for years!

9.30pm Scheduled call in with a good friend. Pre-COVID-19 I would never have been home long enough, or early enough, to talk. Before this it might have been a quick five-minute chat on the bus commute, or racing to the club before a match. I am really getting used to taking the time to pick up the phone and have a proper conversation which I usually schedule in (I am a bit of a planner!).

10pm Call with my sister in Canada. We chat regularly. She fills me in on home schooling, the big snow fall they just had and their new puppy, Sonny.

10.15pm It’s time for bed again. Like the start of day, I have an end of day routine: make up off, dim the lights, no phone checking etc. I read for about an hour. I love roaming my local bookshop and I always have a good supply of books close at hand. I am just coming to the end of ‘Surviving the Storms: Extraordinary stories of courage and compassion at sea’. It brings together first-hand accounts of rescues carried out by the RNLI.

11.30pm Day is done and another day closer to the end of lockdown! Lights out

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