Back to the daily grind


Some people haven’t stopped working yet (perhaps small businesses, self-employed, key workers), others have been out of work for a while and some are just carrying on as some sort of normal. Whichever box you’re in, this week really does mark the end of the festive period, in my opinion! If you didn’t go back to work last Monday, you’re probably heading back in this week. Whatever it is, happy new year, happy new week!

Although I had a few lessons last week, it was fairly quiet and, in all honesty, I was worried and fretting that this week would be the same. However, by Wednesday, I had emails, texts and messages for trials and lessons and my calendar quickly filled up to an almost acceptable level. I’m really surprised and definitely relieved, especially as it’s only early January!

Unfortunately, I find that getting back to the daily grind is tough. I thoroughly enjoyed my long festive holiday and could easily have another week to read and potter around the house. However, I need money and I do miss the interaction I have with my students. I had a few lessons last week and in between reading, cooking and watching TV I decided to start getting ready for this week to be as prepared as possible.

Luckily for me, being organised is not a new year’s resolution as my dad passed on his organisation skills when I was young and it’s always stuck. If I’m not organised I can’t function, so I thought I’d share a few ‘back to work’ tips for staying on top of things. I hope they help!

First of all, get yourself a calendar, a planner or an app that resembles one of these.
I have always been a big fan of writing, doodling and keeping up-to-date with things.

I currently have a diary, a planner, a teaching journal / log book, a desk calendar, a wall calendar, and a teaching log on my computer. Oh! And Google Calendar set up on my phone and computer. Whilst I realise this is quite excessive, and I don’t always use every single one of them, they really do help me stay on track especially as my timetable is filled with numerous ‘one-off’ lessons or meetings. Things are labelled, colour-coded and on my phone I’ve set up reminders.

I also add in personal chores and tasks too, just so I know when I do / should have time for certain things throughout the day, and also because having a checklist keeps me accountable for my actions.

Secondly, write out your week’s to-do list on Sunday evening so that when you get up on Monday mornings you know what you have to do without worrying that you’ve missed something. As a teacher, I have all of my lessons written down, I pencil in planning and marking times and also set aside time to create resources or trial lessons.

I set aside the books I’m going to need, set up my Zoom meetings and send out passwords and I also re-check the settings on Google drive to make sure each student has access to the documents they need. Monday is usually fairly quiet on the teaching front, so I have extra time for life admin and getting ready for Tuesday – Saturday’s lessons anyway.

Have a food plan. Or at least a general idea of what you’re going to eat that week, shop over the weekend for the necessary ingredients and check if anyone else in your household is happy to join in with your plan so that you don’t end up cooking 3 different meals and getting in each other’s ways.

I try to set aside my snacks for the day in the hope that I won’t over eat, or have a constant train of snacks. It’s really hard working from home when the fridge and cupboards are full because I feel as if I am always hungry, and so it’s no surprise that I’ve gained so much weight in the last 8 months.

Pencil in down time. If you don’t relax, working from home feels so much more difficult. It’s not enough to just have 5 minutes before logging back onto the computer, or to stay up until 2am planning or marking. You have to be able to give yourself a solid hour, or two, where you do whatever you want. Whether it’s cooking dinner, having a bath, reading or going for a walk. Working from home can be extremely challenging and it does often feel as though you can’t, or don’t, switch off. Make sure you do!

Be kind to yourself! This seems obvious, but it comes in different forms for different people. If you want to treat yourself to a new book, bag of coffee or some new stationery – do it! My mum and I bought new Lamy pens in the Christmas sale and I absolutely love using them.

Maybe do your make up differently, cook yourself an awesome breakfast or have a night off from planning or chores.

Whatever it is, make sure you’re looking after yourself too. Reach out to family and friends, share a nice post on social media or change your laptop background. If it’ll help you feel more positive, do it!

And finally, a suggestion that may not be welcome by all, try getting up 30 minutes earlier than you really need to. Use it to read, work out, enjoy your breakfast or put the washing on! I love having a slow breakfast with a nice hot coffee or taking a brisk walk around the block before starting my day as it really helps me start my day in a positive mood.

What could you do with an extra 30 minutes?

From the hill right behind our home

Here you have a few tips for getting back to the daily grind and I hope you find them useful. If you have anything else to add, please feel free to share them! I’d love to know what you do to help you stay organised and manage going back to work.

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