Since March 2020, my route to my office has been the 14 paces from our bedroom to my study. This has meant that I don’t have to sit in traffic wasting time and more importantly, I have a choice of routes. I can go the direct route via the lounge or I can take the more scenic route through the kitchen, which increases the distance to 15 paces, but I can pick up coffee and a sandwich along the way. During the hard lockdown, I spent up to 8 hours in my ‘space’ trying to keep my spirits up by either writing or recording my “In conversation with”… Zoom chat series. The latter was a new direction for me, but it allowed me to utilize my interviews skills and keep me sane at the same time. My office/study became my sanctuary where I was able to find a sense of normality in what seemed to be a never-ending sea of madness. It was here, surrounded by memorabilia important to me, that I was able to re-create a scenario where I could be a functioning human being. The items on the wall, like the newspaper posters and the coffee bag from Dubai, told of times when we could move freely around our streets and international travel was not banned or fraught with stress.
Are you sleeping at your office or are you working from home? If you are working from home, make set working hours. Office working hours are usually 08h30 to 17h00 with morning and afternoon breaks and a proper lunchtime. If you are working from home, then stick to this regime. Otherwise, it becomes sleeping at your office rather than working from home. The door-stop is, in fact, an old 8mm Kodak projector that our family used to watch silent home movies on while I was growing up. And although all those old movies have been transferred to digital copies, the projector still works. On the shelf is the Pentax analogue film camera that I got for my 21st birthday and that too is still in working condition.
Aside from the distraction of Facebook, my office contains so many interesting items and collectables that I often get lost in thought just remembering where I got them and what they mean to me. I have tried on many occasions to tidy up/ get rid of/declutter, all to no avail. I usually start by clearing out drawers, meaning that the outward signs of ‘clutter’ still exist.
Turn your weekend back into just a weekend. If you did not work on weekends prior to March 27th, then why are you working on them now? Take back ownership of weekends and make them about you and your family.
I found the license plate in the long term car park at a local airport many years ago and as I was leaving to go on holiday, I put it into my suitcase and went overseas for 2 weeks. I could just have walked back to my car and left it there. It is memories like these that have kept me going through the dark days of the pandemic.
If it is possible for you to claim your own space where you live, then I suggest that you do! Especially if you share the house with family members. For it is here where you can ‘escape’ the mental chaos that COVID-19 has caused. I have found this useful in my situation as a non-travelling travel writer as my wife tends to leave me to my own devices once I am ensconced here. For those who remember, Richie Havens opened at Woodstock back in 1969, and what was meant to be a 15-minute set turned into a marathon 3-hour session (according to his recollection). The setlist shows that he only played for around 50 minutes, as he waited for acts to be choppered in due to the inclement weather. A song that he composed while on stage, Freedom, became the unofficial anthem of the festival. I was lucky enough to interview Richie and he even played 3 songs live in the studio for me.
Most days you can find my Executive Assistant lying on my desk. When this behaviour became the norm, I put the pillow on my desk to make it more comfortable for him. But he will often drape himself over my mouse, or if he is in a needy mood, my hand. The latter stops me working and forces me to focus attention on him! But, this is a distraction that I am prepared to put up with.
From my desk, I get to look at this wall on a daily basis. Filled with memories, books and photographs that make my heart sing. And hence, despite what the de-clutterers say, I have kept the majority of the items that once filled every nook and cranny.
My attempt at sculpture. A mobile made out of driftwood and sliced semi-precious stones. Something that I bump into on a regular basis. The collection on the wall consists of acetate cells from animated movies. I did search the internet for all the dwarfs, but I was only able to afford Bashful.
Until next time, I hope that the Dragons stay away. Stay safe, stay healthy and be aware.
South African Depression and Anxiety Group. 011 234 4837
LifeLine Connect number. 011 728 1347
“Every minute someone leaves this world behind.
We are all in “the line” without knowing it.
We never know how many people are before us.
We can not move to the back of the line.
We can not step out of the line.
We can not avoid the line.
So while we wait in line –
Make moments count.
Make the time.
Make your gifts known.
Make a nobody feel like a somebody.
Make your voice heard.
Make the small things big.
Make someone smile.
Make the change.
Make sure to tell your people they are loved.
Make sure to have no regrets.
Make sure you are ready.”