Like a lot of people that I’ve been speaking to have, at some point, I found the first seven days of isolation hard going. I’ve been putting a lot of plans together over the last 6 months for all the classes that I lead, which has taken up the vast majority of my spare time, something I completed the week before the current isolation period was announced. Although I will stay reactive to any amendments required along the way, finishing the plans was satisfying as I had put a lot of thought and effort into them. I’m someone that really likes to get my teeth into things and will endeavour to research how I can do those tasks to the best of my ability. When lockdown started it felt like everything in my life just stopped to a dead halt, as did so many others.
All of a sudden it felt like someone had shut the door and left me in a bare and barren house with nothing to do. I had been spending so much time on those plans I’d stopped reading (aside from audiobooks whilst driving), stopped listening to podcasts, stopped reading articles and blogs, stopped watching documentaries and films. I totally immersed myself in the job that was in front of me. I had this idea that I now had loads of time to be really productive. Time I had, yes, but what I didn’t initially have was a “task” to throw myself into. A change that I’d been trying to make in my life since new year was to stop spending as much time on my phone, something I’d not actually tried too hard to do. So, after virtually spending the full day, each day, for the first seven days of lockdown on my phone, but also feeling guilty about not being “productive”, I came to cracking point. Like most things in my life I tend to have to be completely fed up with them or let them them get so painful that I have to, or am forced to, make a change. I rung a couple of people that I can speak to freely about things and felt much more positive and accepting of the changes that needed to be made. I came to the conclusion, with help, that I would have a day trying to be as unproductive as possible, aside from required household chores, cooking, washing up. Having a shower always feels like a chore anyway…….once a country boy, always a country boy and all that…
I sat for the full morning reading in the garden, a book that I’ve been “meaning” to read for over a year. In the book is the the Bismark quote, “essentially even a fool can learn from their own experiences, the real trick is learning from other people’s”. Those words rang home. I knew that I had been trying to “rule the show of lockdown” by trying to plough on as normal, effectively trying to bounce a ball off a wall that isn’t there. Trying to make something out of nothing.
I needed to read that and to feel a little foolish for a moment. I made a list of a few of the books, films and podcasts that I like the idea of reading/watching/listening to and knocked them out over the rest of that week. One of the podcasts was a current one with Tim Ferris, whose work I take a lot from. Ferris was basically saying that obviously we don’t know how long the current period will last but when/if we return to something resembling normality that he didn’t want to look back on this period as wasted time. He was basically fast forwarding and asking himself what he did, changed, learned and how he grew looking back on the time that lockdown gave him. My girlfriend and I had a walk in the woods that afternoon and we both decided that this was a great opportunity in front of us to make some changes. Personally, I’ve decided that I’m going to use the rest of this lockdown as time for improving myself, growth, and for spending some real quality time with Jo, we moved in together a week before lockdown was announced.
My coach, Luke, head of Camberley Judo Club, messaged at the end of that week about doing some online videos for our members. Learning more about making videos and editing is another thing I’ve been “meaning” to have a look at for a while, what a great opportunity. I also had the idea of the short social media tutorials that we have been putting out, which have been getting a lot of positive feedback, thanks to everyone that got in contact. It’s amazing how much free education is online, I asked a few questions and was quickly given links to webinars.
I’m reading everyday and getting through a number of the books that have been gathering dust for a while. Writing a lot in my diary. Getting blog and vlog posts done. We are are enjoying watching something most nights, and not just flicking through Amazon Prime to see where the cursor lands.
Regards to the phone situation, Jo and I decided to not allow them in the bedroom. They stay downstairs. We drink some water and do a couple of short daily readings when we first wake up, then get up, diary and breakfast. I’m fortunate that I speak to a number of athletes and coaches, one being my friend, Brian McDermott, regularly. Brian has spent his life in high level professional football so really understands that “all in” way of thinking. Brian has helped me a lot; something he regularly talks about is really getting a good first thirty minutes of the day in. Not having the phone next to me when I wake up stops me from drifting. I feel like I get up with clarity and purpose, which seems to then continue through out the day. I don’t have the phone on me in the house, I leave it on the desk almost just like a house phone. I’ve turned off all non-vital notifications. I don’t take it with me when we go for a walk or bike ride. When we do go out and I need to take it with me I’m finding it easier to be present and aren’t mindlessly looking through the news app or “just checking” Twitter.
Another thing Brian said to me in the second week of isolation, “you have all the time you need now to do all those things that you’ve been “meaning” to do”. After a tough start I’m actually really enjoying this current period now.