How I'm Coping With 'Lockdown' As A Freelancer

Well, who would have seen this coming?  

I'm writing this after 47 days of lockdown in the UK (not that I'm counting).

I know that there are much bigger issues at this time but I thought I'd share my experiences as a self-employed person during these troubling times.

When the UK went into full lockdown mode on the 24th of March all of my client work had already been on pause for a week or so. Completely understandable due to the nature of the projects that I work on. The majority of my projects are linked with events, and the cancellation of all major events and gatherings in the UK meant that nothing needed to be promoted.

Anyway, enough of the sob story. As I mentioned earlier, there's much bigger issues going on in the world.

Anyone who knows me will know that I love being busy. I hate stagnation and I find it really hard to 'do nothing'.

So with all this time on my hands, how have I managed to stay productive and not loose my mind? Well truthfully I haven't stayed productive, not every day anyway. And there's been days when my mind has not been in a good shape.

Here's a few things that I've been doing to stay busy, exercise the creative part of my brain and stay active:

Adapting my skills to generate some income and to keep my creative mind active:

I've re-found my love for woodwork recently. My day-to-day design work is essentially visual problem solving, so my brain is wired to enjoy solving problems creatively. Woodwork for me is basically another way to stimulate this. It also means that I can lock myself away in my 'man cave' with some music and a coffee and just distract myself from everything else.

And I've combined this with my passion for rock climbing in order to make wooden climbing holds and training equipment for the climbing community, who are now all stuck at home to do their training, instead of being able to climb indoors or outdoors.

I've decided to take these climbing products forwards as an addition to my work as a designer (more to come on that in the near future). I love creating things from wood, and if I can help out the climbing community in the process then that gives me so much joy.

Wooden Climbing Training aid and wooden climbing holds
A few wooden climbing holds and pieces of training equipment that I've been making.

Limiting my social media intake:

I've never been obsessed by social media, but I do use it. During the first couple of weeks of lockdown I was on Instagram way to much. I was constantly checking what people were doing to fill up their days and becoming jealous of what people were able to do with their time in lockdown. That quickly got to me, and I found that staring at social media was not doing my mental health much good.

So I've now really limited my intake of social media. I try to check Instagram once in the morning and then once in the evening and only for a total time of around 2mins. It's not always the case, but limiting this intake has really helped. At the end of the day I don't need to know how many times someone has eaten pancakes for breakfast during lockdown.

Exercise. But only when I feel like it:

With nice weather in the UK usually means that I'd be out every weekend rock climbing with friends. So it came as a massive blow to the UK climbing community when we were advised not to do any outdoors climbing during lockdown. Totally understandable, as it is a dangerous sport. And any injuries caused through climbing could put unnecessary pressure on the emergency services.

I've been able to keep training at home for climbing and just to stay fit. I either train on my own or with the help of my training buddies via video calls. These people have been one of the most important things to help me stay sane throughout this time. It's been amazing to train with them and chat and just get through this together!

I'm lucky enough to live close to some nice countryside, so hiking and cycling are also helping to clear my mind, keep fit and take in some fresh air.

Exercise is a brilliant way to focus on something that is not pandemic related. But I don't force myself to do it. If I'm not feeling like doing anything active then I just do other things.

A photo of rolling hills and sky
The views from my morning hikes aren't too shabby. Apologies to anyone who lives in cities at the moment.


Taking a bit of time to recharge:

Before the lockdown I was on a role with work. I had been extremely busy but still really motivated since January 2020. I wasn't burnt out, but I was definitely tired. I wasn't sleeping particularly well each night, so finding focus on work projects was becoming quite hard.

The 'forced' rest that the pandemic has brought has probably done me some good. It's given me a lot of downtime and chance to essentially recharge the creative part of my brain. I'm definitely now fully re-charged and ready to get back into it.

Anyway, enough from me. I hope everyone is staying safe, staying healthy and playing by the rules that the government has laid out for us. Keep pushing forward and we'll make it through to the other side. If you need any help or advice or have any questions for me then DM me on Instagram (I'll answer as quickly as I can) @craftedbypine.

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