Fragmented Thoughts

100DaysToOffload

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?


This is day 19 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

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Over the years I’ve periodically posted lists of the small, everyday things that I’m grateful for. Along with many other things I’ve chosen to commit to lately is making this a weekly thing.

So without further ado, here’s my first (of this incarnation at least) list of reasons to be cheerful:

  • the honesty of children: “Can we stop Zoom now?” said my nephew part-way through a family birthday call... he got his wish
  • an extra few moments of light in the evening
  • walking on fresh snow
  • getting to that point in a book where all the loose threads start coming together... and you can’t bear to put it down
  • cosy new pyjamas

This is day 18 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

Tags: #gratitude

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I love Saturdays. A day to unwind and have fun. A day to really switch off and relax. Here’s what a typical lockdown Saturday looks like...

  • Wake around 8 and read in bed until I start to get hungry.
  • Breakfast, usually eggs and coffee.
  • FaceTime with my parents to chat and do the crossword. This is something we’d do when we stay with them that we’ve made a weekly ritual during the pandemic.
  • Lunch, usually a homemade soup.
  • Walk, I try to get out every day for an hour or so.
  • The rest of the afternoon is given over to whatever sport is on. Today for example I’ve listened to football on the radio, and watched rugby and football matches.
  • Tea is often leftovers or a takeaway as Saturday is my night off cooking. Tonight we’ve got a rather fine curry I made yesterday. And a couple of beers of course!
  • We round of the day with a film or a board game. Tonight we’re playing a new one; Forbidden Island.

To be fair, I don’t think my Saturdays before the pandemic were that different. You’d just need to factor in a hockey match in place of the walk.

What does your perfect Saturday look like?

— This is day 17 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

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Sometimes we can be tempted into thinking that there's a magic item, experience or feeling that will bring us success or happiness. We pin our hopes on it. We work our way steadily towards it.

Sometimes we might reach or attain that magical thing. But when we do, we realise it wasn't that magical after all and we set our sights on something else.

We keep on going. Keep on searching. Keep on learning. And eventually we realise; it's about the journey, not the destination.

When I think of this, it reminds me of a line I once heard in a TV show (Baptiste, I think):

The wind blows Still the world turns

This post was prompted by the latest issue of Sophie Cross' Thoughtfully newsletter.


This is day 16 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

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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.


This is day 15 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

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Something I've been pondering a while is where the line lies between cutting yourself some slack and slacking off.

Is it contextual? Is it time-bound? Is it to do with the difference between needing a break and avoiding a task?

Answers on a postcard please.


This is day 14 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

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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?


This is day 13 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

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We spent the weekend just gone in New York. We ate pancakes, burgers and bagels. Drank cosmos and Manhattans. Visited The Frick, The Met and MOMA. Saw a broadway show and listened to jazz from Village Vanguard... And all of this from the comfort of our living room.

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.

Where shall we go next?


This is day 12 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

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All anybody was talking about on Twitter yesterday were two things: 1. Jackie Weaver and that Handforth Parish Council video 2. This thread about weird things British people do

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.


This is day 11 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

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Today I gave my 30th blood donation. The last time I was there a lady was celebrating her 100th donation! My goal is to get to 40 before I'm 40.

I went for the first time as a teenager when my Mum took me along with her. It was in the sports hall where I did trampolining and went to football camps in the summer holidays. At uni the donor team set up in the Students Union. And in my later 20s it was the community centre in the village I lived in. Now I go to the donor centre, a permanent space for the NHS Blood and Transplant team in Newcastle.

I love everything about giving blood. The staff always manage to create a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. Today all the staff of a certain age were singing along to Hot Chocolate on the radio and I had a good chat that ranged from cooking new things during the pandemic to the importance of finding work that challenges and fulfils you.

I love seeing all the first timers... and the old timers.

I love the follow up; finding out when and where my blood has been used.

I love the feeling of helping out.

And obviously, I love the biscuits!


This is day 10 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

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