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Like a lot of you during lockdown I’ve been forced to look at myself, my life and what I do each day

I needed to really look at what’s important to me

I know there are anti-motivational posts out there saying “Don’t Worry If You’re Not Doing Anything Right Now – you can just sit around and stare at your navel for 6 months”, but that’s never been me

I’m used to being busy with work and busy with my social life and hobbies / obsessions

A lack of routine scares the hell out of me and is bad for my mental health

I’m grateful that in terms of social media training I’m pretty much as busy as normal (which is good as many of our social media management hospitality clients are on pause until after lockdown)

Today I wanted to look at 9 New Things I’ve Done During Lockdown (and what they’ve taught me about life and business)

It’s the unexpected sequel to our blog 90 Easy Ways To Improve Your Life This Year (which is well worth a read as well)

1. Visited 4 Hidden Town Centre Beaches in Trafford
Since they said you can’t go to the beach I’ve been hunting down mini beaches in Trafford

So far I’ve visited beaches in Partington, Urmston, Bowdon and Dunham

I say beaches – well they’re sandy bays on the edge of rivers – and they’re desolate (quieter than Hale village or the canal) so don’t call the cops as there’s nobody at them and they’re within my daily exercise allowance

They make me happy because they remind me of childhood trips to Anglesey and Blackpool when everything was innocent and there was no stress

What has struck me when I’ve visited and posted these photos on social media is very few people seem to know they’re there even when they live in the town

Lesson: Awareness is key for everything – and you can never become complacent with your marketing – there are people on your doorstep who don’t you exist

2. Started To Learn Welsh
Why have I chosen to learn Welsh as opposed to something sensible like French, Spanish or German?

Well we always used to go on family holidays there as kids, I have family from Wales and some of my favourite bands ever are Welsh

So like many I’ve started to learn Welsh on Duolingo for 15-20 minutes a day during lockdown

I’m grasping the basics right now as 15-20 minutes a day won’t turn me into a proficient Welsh speaker, but I’m enjoying the challenging experience

Hopefully when a business from Blackwood contacts me for training I’ll be able to great them in Welsh before we start a full training session

Dwi’n hoff iawn o’r cyfryngau cymdeithasol

Lesson: Reinforcing the empathy I have for those that don’t truly understand social media and knowing how hard it is for those who aren’t marketers

3. Skyped The Parents
My parents live less than 10 minutes walk from my house

They’re elderly (even though my parents will hate me saying this) so even before lockdown I was staying away from the house

My last visit to their house was to show them how to use skype knowing all this was coming

I’ve always popped around at least once a week before this, chatted to them a few times a week and had quality time over a meal at least once a week

I really miss the time we spend and whilst Skype is great it’s no substitute

Lesson: Whilst Zoom / Skype is great for training and networking (and i’ll continue this after lockdown) – it isn’t a substitute for face 2 face with family

4. Had Deeper Conversations With Friends
Before lockdown we were all complaining about why do we do exactly the same routine every weekend at the same places – what we’d give to have those days back right now

After we got over week 1 of having FB Messenger conversations about Corona and Lockdown we’ve started to have deeper conversations about our interests and our passions

This isn’t the meaning of life stuff, but doing that very male thing of talking in lists and Top 10s – but importantly having conversations about what we love

I remember training someone a few months ago and they used to have a Queen Night every year where the whole night they talked about the and Queen indepth

I guess this an extension of that about our own interests

Lesson: Have deeper conversations that go deeper than “What have you been up to this week” – find out something new you never knew about a friend of 20 years

5. Did a 30 Day Self Portraits Challenge

I think it was about 4 days into lockdown

I remember sitting there at 11pm at night crying on my sofa as I was missing my friends

I looked at Facebook at the photos of our nights out for comfort and realised how bad selfies are and how good photos were when we’d passed our phones to a waiter or the next table to take a group photo of us

A selfie is better than nothing – but honestly selfies are really bad unless they’re the only option

I started a 30 day project of Self Portraits during lockdown to document this strange period – note I didn’t use the word selfies as they’re different, they were all taken using the 10 second timer on the phone and trying to be as creative as possible

I relished every moment to create a piece of art where the roads are quieter and to produce a series of images that I can look back on and remember

Lesson: When we get back to social nights and networking – ask someone else to take the photo rather than defaulting to selfie mode

6. Read A Novel (as opposed to non-fiction)
I read all the time but I normally alternate between Business, Music and Sports books

Since lockdown I’ve read 5 books and am on my 6th book

Right now I’m reading my 1st novel in over 20 years

I’ve just always steered away from novels as something I don’t read, but I’m really enjoying this book

It’s called “IQ83” about a virus that takes over the world and lowers everyone’s IQ – erm sound familiar

There are takeaways and ideas I’ve read that have truly made me think in the same way as a non fiction book would – it’s not just escapism

Lesson: Read at least one novel for every 3 non fiction books I read in future

7. Delved back into my music collection
Those that know me well know of my music obsession – it was an obsession that led me to work in the music industry for 14 years

I devour music like the average person eats and drinks

However during lockdown one major thing has changed – I have no gigs to go to which initially was one of my hardest things to deal with

It means my daily soundtrack isn’t what gigs I’m going to this week

What I’ve really done is embrace nostalgia in a way I’ve never done before delving deep into some old favourite bands

So far I’ve dipped into Oasis, Suede, Morrissey, The Killers, Muse, My Chemical Romance, Paramore, Panic! At The Disco and literally played their back catalogues from 1st studio album to their most recent album

It’s enjoyable experience hearing songs you haven’t listened to for years

This is just the tip of the iceberg and in 3 months the list of bands I’ve listened to in full will be exhaustive

Lesson: Reigniting old passions is just as important as doing something new – the past is beautiful (Don’t lose touch with it)

8. Took a look at my financial outgoings
I work in marketing so I’m very much of the mindset when it comes to business – 95% of my time is spent thinking of marketing and increasing my customer base and just 5% of time is spend looking at outgoings

It’s not that I’m financially reckless (i’m very astute) – it’s just that I’m a creature of habit and I know my expenses don’t deviate that much and as long as I focus on my income everything works out well

In unprecedented times I decide to look at what I was spending a little more closely

I know after this – Zoom will be in place of Train fares for some sessions

I know annoyingly that fresh fruit costs a lot more than it should

I know all about the vegan tax – the amount vegans pay over the odds for the word vegan on a product

I know I’m not ashamed to go to the discount aisle and freeze food to save a little

Lesson: Look for saving if it’s a like for like item – and use those savings to invest in things that will increase your bottom line (i.e marketing, education and training)

9. Planned My Evenings And Weekends
I’ve never had to plan my evenings and weekends before

They’ve always been planned for me based around what gigs I’ve got coming up

I like TV as long as it’s quality TV so I’ve never been one to sit down at 7pm in an evening and just watch 4 hours TV regardless of what’s on

My mental to do list includes a plan of the evening now as much as the day time work

I can pinpoint 30 minutes slots for TV, Running, Reading, learning Welsh or listening to music

Lesson: Planning your spare time is as important as planning your working day

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Alex McCann

Author Alex McCann

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