On the second day of lockdown I realised I needed something badly: structure.
I needed discipline, a timetable, a way of managing and coping with working at home for an unknown length of time. I think that lightbulb moment on 24th March has served me well. A photo of my hand-written timetable is below.
Here’s the structure of my working day:
I start each day with a cold shower.
Straight out of bed, straight into the shower, as cold as it will go, so cold it makes your head, fingers and toes tingle.
To start with it takes your breath away, the best I could do was focus on my breathing and I could just about breathe normally after about 30 seconds. Man Alive! It is cold!
By the end of the first week it didn’t take my breath away and now I’m much more used to it. Some days are better than others though.
Mentally, I feel great when I step out of the shower. Alert, very wide awake (!) and ready to take on the day. I feel positive too. It’s difficult to describe… there are lots of advocates of cold water, particularly outdoor swimming and I can see the advantages. I’d like to give open water swimming a try when this is all over.
Mr Cartwright, my old geography teacher, was giving revision tips one day and this has stuck with me ever since. He explained how our brain’s concentration span is short. When revising for exams he recommended studying for an hour at most, then having a short 10 to 15-minute break, preferably getting some fresh air and doing something different before getting back to revising.
I’ve done plenty of exams over the years and this approach has worked well for me for a long time.
During lockdown I have mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks where I make myself a hot drink, maybe go for a 5-minute walk, pick a few weeds out of the veg patches, practice juggling, essentially use a different part of my brain! Another break is lunch at 1pm. That fits in well with the kids’ home-schooling.
I try to finish each day around 4.30pm to fit in some exercise. Admittedly this can be the hottest part of the day, but I find it a great way to wind down after a day’s work.
I alternate cardio workouts with yoga or a walk. I used to do a lot of rowing and have a rowing machine at home so on Mondays I do 30 or 40 minutes on that. I can just about do 7,500m in 30 minutes and I’m building up to doing 10,000m in 40 minutes. On Fridays I do rowing sprints and am building up how long I can row at certain speeds. 1 minute 45 seconds 500m pace is hard work!
Joe Wicks is another great method of lockdown exercise. I was ahead of the trend here, I’ve been doing his workouts on YouTube for years!
Fightmaster Lesley is my YouTube yoga instructor of choice. She’s a middle-aged woman in California and it’s got nothing to do with fighting so I’ve no idea where she got the name from. I’ve only ever been to one yoga class but have been doing yoga on YouTube for at least five years. It’s good for strength of suppleness and I like to think I’m building some longevity into my golf too.
And my bonus tip:
Don’t consume any news after mid-afternoon.
I used to watch the evening news, almost without fail. But the news is now so negative I’ve made a conscious decision to avoid it mid-afternoon onwards. I read The Times first thing in a morning and catch up on the news periodically during the day via the BBC website and that’s it. I think I sleep better as a result.