By my calculations I'm reaching a point where I could legitimately claim to have been blogging for 20 years. I began my blogging journey as a teenager back in the early 2000s. My very first blog was on Diary-x.
I clearly got the blogging bug as after that I've had blogs on:
– Wordpress (both hosted and self-hosted)
At any one time I'll have at least two blogs on the go; one more personal and one more professional. I've also set up blogs for specific projects and training programmes. In a past life I even used a blog to teach people how to blog.
I can't say what prompted me to start blogging, but I know why I've continued. A blog is a space to:
– think and explore what interests you
– develop writing skills and style
– express yourself and share ideas publicly
– start conversations and get feedback
Can social media or newsletters replace blogs? I don't think so. These other places to write and express yourself are an addition to, not a replacement for, blogs. If anything, I think we're seeing a renaissance of blogging through challenges like 100 Days to Offload that help build the habit and confidence to write, and services like write.as that make it so much easier to publish.
When you work from home the boundaries of the work day are often blurred. Without the act of physically changing location it can be hard to switch off from work. Over the years I've developed a set of end of day rituals to help with this.
1. End of day review
The very last thing I do at my desk is to write a short review of the day. I answer three questions:
– What went well?
– What challenged or frustrated you?
– What will help you have a good day tomorrow?
It helps me to mentally tie up any loose ends and set myself up for the next day. I'll also clear up any papers or notebooks so I can start afresh in the morning.
2. Fresh air and exercise
The Urban Wanderer describes the act of walking at the start and end the day when working from home as a reverse commute. I find this particularly effective at the end of the day to help empty my mind of work related things. I'm lucky to have a park on my doorstep and so I'll usually do a few laps of that.
3. Offline activity
Spending time away from a screen immediately after finishing work is the best way I know to relax and shift gear. Most days for me this means an hour or so in the kitchen cooking tea. It's an activity that for me signifies the start of my evening.
What rituals do you have to help you switch off from work?
It can be lonely working for yourself. You may see people regularly, but meetings with clients are no proxy for having a team around you.
I'm grateful for the advice I got when I first went freelance to make sure I didn't spend all my time at home in my office. It prompted me to join a local co-working group and attend sessions at least once a month. Later I spent more time co-working, with at least one day per week among the community at Good Space, where I later rented a shared office.
Since the start of the pandemic the ability to go out to co-working spaces and work side-by-side with people has obviously been restricted. Sadly this means that many places, Good Space included, have had to close.
I'm grateful however to other initiatives that create a community for freelancers and other solo-workers. This morning I joined a virtual co-working session run by my local group. Last week I attended daily pomodoro sessions from Othership. And every day I check in with the Leapers community.
There are plenty more communities and sessions like this out there. If you're a freelancer or self-employed and feeling lonely or isolated then I'd pass on the piece of advice given to me – find yourself some co-workers.
There used to be a time when I was among the first to sign up to new websites and apps. I was eager to poke around with other early adopters to see what they offered, how they worked and if there were any benefits for my work or personal life. Some stuck. Others didn't.
There's a reticence now. I'm not sure where it comes from. Maybe it's due to my change in circumstance? When I worked in universities, often I was the one in the team who sussed things out and shared new digital tools. I don't have this role now I'm my own boss. Maybe it's down to the sheer volume of new software that is being released every day? There's no way to keep up with it all, so why not let others filter out the dross. Maybe it's a loss of trust? I'm certainly more conscious about what happens with my personal data and the content I create when I sign up to these things. Maybe I've got better ways to spend my time?
Like many, I've been finding the latest lockdown harder than those that preceded it. It's the cumulative effect of day after day spent within the same four walls and in the same company. That and the approach of the one year anniversary of the first lockdown and prospect of spending a second birthday in isolation.
We needed to shake things up and a virtual weekend away was just the ticket. It broke us out of our routine, helped us to properly disconnect from work and to relax. We did all the things we'd usually do on holiday and none of the things we'd usually do at home on the weekend.
The whole experience was restorative and we'll definitely do it again.
Of the former I have nothing much to say. Except that it's been referenced in pretty much every conversation my wife and I have had over the past 24 hours.
Of the latter I will concede that for the most part us “Britishes” are weird as hell. As pointed out in the thread most of the things have no logical or sensible explanation:
– the swan story
– the sanctity of the queue
– public schools
– buying drinks in rounds
– or separate taps
However, the cultural significance and brilliance of fish finger sandwiches is a hill I'm willing to die on.