I hardly ever recommend things to people mostly because I believe that is what google/Which is for. Here are the tools and things that have made life easier for me during the COVID situation.
Reliable internet has become the biggest necessity in the past nine months, not only because of working from home, but also to keep us connected to the people we love. Like many people I have not seen my family since Christmas, so those family and friend quizzes have become a lifeline that ward off bad days.
Zen Broadband: I switched recently from a less reliable service and it took me about 3 weeks to decide to go with Zen, they have been reliable and their customer service has been amazing. Sounds odd but Which Magazine has recommended them for years (my mum has a subscription). I have a recommend a friend link for them, here.
There is a whole mixture of tools I use to organise my life and projects. Trello I use for managing projects, it is handy because the free version is pretty useful in its own right. I take joy in using it for paid and unpaid work, it is easy to use and has lots of handy addons that make life a bit easier.
I love that you can share your board with clients so they can check and see progress, plus there is something very pleasing about being able to tick off a task. Trello has pretty much taken over the roll of a spreadsheet for me now.
Often overlooked, being mindful is hard to do when you feel trapped in your home, it is a must though. I have set aside time for poetry, breathing, meditation, walking, listening, coaching and any number of things, some of these things have been harder than others.
Just last week I set aside an hour on my Thursday to read poems that make me smile, sometimes you need to remember that a smile can lighten your entire day. Speaking of which poems that make me smile:
- Wendy Cope – Flowers
- T.S. Eliot – Macavity: The Mystery Cat
- Jenny Joseph – Warning
- A.A. Milne – Us Two
- Michael Rosen – Chocolate Cake (This version is good too)
- Spike Milligan – The Lion
These are just a small number of the poems I love, I often start with Wendy Cope, she is one of my favourite poets.
I work in four places, three are in my home and one is a co-working space in Manchester city centre. I am not always going to sit at a desk or my dining room table, I sometime sit on my sofa. I don’t work from bed, I have a rule that if I am doing paid work, I get up properly, I don’t sit round in my pj’s and work.
I won’t say this always lasts the whole day, but as an early riser I tend to get up and start work before I have thought about breakfast.
I work from the dining room table more often than not these days, it allows me a view of my street and also more light than the spare room. Light makes me feel more awake and alert. My prime working hours tend to be 6am to about 3pm although this changes from time to time and I do tend to work until 5pm but allow myself less taxing tasks after 3pm.
With my first freelance paycheque I bought a Sonos Speaker, it has changed my life, I listen to books, radio, music and podcasts. Living on my own during 2020 has meant I have like many people had less contact with people and although I have made it into a co-working space a couple of days being able to listen to things even if it is recorded office or café noise.
I also value silence, but having the choice has been good. I bought a second Sonos device (bookshelf speaker from IKEA) so that I can listen when I go from room to room.
I use other tools too to manage time, and organise, in a way these are the tools of my trade. I suspect there will be another post soon.