Hands up who knew what furlough was before March 2020?
Like many others, i’d never heard of it! After consulting with the governments website and my employers Q&A’s, debating with myself & family and changing my mind several times, after scrutinising my personal situation at the time, I decided to be one of the volunteers.
Before the pandemic, I’d spent the previous five months split between working from the office 2-3 times a week and the rest working from home. I’d got used to my routine. I was learning a new role so the time spent at home came in handy and allowed me to learn so much with longer hours spent at my desk. The time spent in the office allowed me to keep in touch with everyone and enjoy the social side of it.
After the stay at home advice came from the government, like so many others, I had to stay at home full time. A concept i’d never come across in my 20 years of employment, i’d always worked full time in an office until November 2019. So when I volunteered for furlough, I was nervous, i’d never been as nervous in my life. I’d never had as much as two weeks off before, a break in employment when I came back to the UK after working in France in 2005 and my usual yearly holidays which were only usually long weekends or a week at a time.
I suddenly found that not only was my personal diary empty, naturally, everything was crossed out with the pandemic but the same had just happened with my work diary. I no longer had a diary, something that’s never happened before. Panic set in, what was I going to do each day? I couldn’t go anywhere as the world was closed and I couldn’t see anyone, we were in total lockdown. I took comfort in the fact I was helping the company, I wanted everyone to keep their jobs and I wanted a job to go back to. I care about my company, its like working with an extended family. I was being paid a portion of my wage to stay at home. I could no longer work for my company but in return for my job being there at the end of all this, it had to be worth it. It wasn’t just about me, I had to get on with it.
So that’s what I did.
These are the things I learnt about life after furlough:
1. You need hobbies
There is no longer any structure to your day or to your life for that matter. You have to work with what you have, you are limited to yourself and what you can do. Before the pandemic I never really had many hobbies, it seems a world away now! You have to fill your day and keep your brain occupied, especially during strange times like these.
I started with grafting, I needed to work still. I started with skimming plasterboard as my house is currently being renovated. I needed to make the most of this once in a lifetime opportunity.
I read books, I started to relax and the books helped me leave this strange world for a little while. I then went on to watch films and series on Netflix, I realised i’d missed a lot so I binge watched. I was then introduced to Tiktok so I became obsessed with that for a while, I started to have fun and laugh at myself. I got into painting with oil paints on canvas. I did my ambulance responding work, as the NHS had done, I had to adapt with the changing policies and procedures.
I needed to get back to writing, graphics, working and my laptop. I started blogging last week and its opened up a whole new world for me. I can do all the things I love doing and have missed doing at work.
🌹When i’m back at work I will continue to do these things I’ve enjoyed, I’ve learnt a lot about myself and where I can improve to help me live my life the best I can.
2. It is always about the little things
Think of the things you thought were important before the pandemic.
Here’s a small selection of mine, and i’m ashamed:
- Work- It pays the bills, keeps food on the table whilst providing you with a purpose in life.
- Money- Unfortunately everything revolves around this.
- Car- Needed for work and personal reasons.
Suddenly, I didn’t need any of those. I wasn’t at work and couldn’t go anywhere so it was all useless to me.
I began to appreciate little things such as the sunshine, chats with my neighbours, birds singing, wildlife, how green the grass and trees were, the clouds, the breeze on my face. I was alive. Outside my usual life of work and everything that came with it, the world was always there but id never noticed it so much.
I missed seeing friends and family, a simple hug I could no longer have but took for granted so many times before.
🌹I will appreciate the little things in life from now on.
3. Self care is no longer an option, it’s a must
With all my free time I learnt all I could about self care, I had time to meditate and generally put myself first. Previously i’d spent little time on this, I invested in a skincare routine and had basic rituals each day to ensure I stayed well. I took vitamins and health supplements to try and keep the virus away. Sitting in the sunshine gave me many benefits, on many years before i’d been able to see the nice weather through the window of my office but now I had the chance to make the most of it in my garden. Vitamin D is a good healer of the soul!
🌹 I will set myself small goals each day such as get something done, random acts of kindness, make the bed and look after myself.
4. Learn to live in the moment rather than exist
I am guilty of wishing my time away, roll on home time, roll on the weekend, roll on my holiday. You know the story. During furlough, I no longer had anything to look forward to, all the days and weeks rolled into one. Soon a month passed, then another and then another. Something good had to come out of each day and I needed to make sure I didn’t waste my time i’d been given.
🌹This allowed me to learn to live in the moment and I will continue to do so, I will make each day count, it’s something we should all be doing as we only get one life and it may be shorter than you think!
5. There is more to life than work
Never thought I would say this, but there is! I’ve always focused on work but when that’s gone you realise there is so much more happening. Work is and always will be a big part of my life, its what I do and its part of me. I’d been so wrapped up with all things work, I forgot how much life there is outside of it. Work-life balance will be a big part of my daily life in the future. Its a big world out there. I appreciate we haven’t been able to go and see it with travel restrictions in place but with technology as it is these days, there is no excuse.
🌹Of course it’s easy for me to say I knew some of these things before but practising them was another deal.
These small bits I have learnt and all the things left to learn, i’m off to get on with it before the next pandemic!!
Final thoughts: What would you have said to yourself back in January 2020, if you knew then, what you know now? Enjoy the links below:
Thanks for reading!
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