Another month, another lockdown. I’ll be honest, they’ve started to blur into one, a bit like each day of the week. Which strikes me as challenging territory for our emotional, mental and social health.
How do we find perspective when we don’t see anyone? How do we process what’s going on? How do we continue to grow?
I’ve pulled together and reviewed a selection of tools to help us stay sane during lockdown. But here’s my disclaimer: there has not been a single month of my life in which I’ve used all of these tools and I certainly don’t advise investing in the lot. That’s just going to add to feelings of overwhelm and cause extra stress.
Why not start with the one tool that will help you most right now? Perhaps you’re at the start of the list, and there's a voice inside crying out to you to look out for number one. Or maybe you have a strong foundation in place and are ready to start getting creative or thinking about growth. Be realistic and be kind to yourself.
You’ve got a mammoth to-do list on your hands and there’s no time for ‘me time’. Right? Wrong! Having let my self-care slip during both lockdowns, working all hours on my crusade of ‘saving the business’, I realise now that my belief that I couldn't take a break was not sustainable. Just a five minute walk around the block or getting on my yoga mat and trying to remember those stretches was something.
I started using a habit tracker and would list a couple of solo time activities that I could do in just five minutes (or more if I fancied it). Start small. Initially, my goal was to get two ticks per week.Weekly Deskpad with Habit Tracker, £8
2. For finding perspective
When every day rolls into one, it helps to take a step back and acknowledge what was positive, different or special. My year seven Religious Education teacher introduced me to the idea of the gratitude journal; listing five good things that happened each day. I haven’t kept it up for 20+ years (sorry, Ms Saunders) but I go through periods where I return to this simple activity of appreciation.
Do you need some help getting started? 'What's with this gratitude thing?' by Mapology is a fold-out guide designed to support us in cultivating the spirit of gratitude.Gratitude Journal, £13
What’s with this gratitude thing? £5
3. For overcoming the overwhelm
There are things to do filling every crevice of your brain, the clock seems to be moving faster than usual and you're feeling overwhelmed. Ping! And that’s another thing for the list.
Where to start? The Focus Pad sits on your desktop, ready for you to categorise that new thought into one of four sections. Choose from ‘Do First’, ‘Schedule’, ‘Delegate’ or ‘Don’t Do’. Winner.
Focus Pad, £8
Reading back over my ramblings, I’ll identify when I’m being irrational or when I’m glossing over something that needs to be addressed. I like the Printed Journal for its variety of paper stocks and the price point isn’t going to break the bank - so I really can write utter tripe.
Printed Journal in Daisy, £15
5. For happiness
The Happy Self Journal was originally designed for kids to support their happiness, develop mindful habits for life and nurture those enquiring minds. It proved a hit at Papersmiths and we had many adult customers, eager to adopt a growth mindset, sheepishly buying it for themselves.
Fortunately, HappySelf founder Francesca created a grown-up version for teens, young adults and adults proper. Work through it by yourself or join in with your kids’ journaling process.
Working from home, relationships with family, friends and my significant others could go horribly wrong. In lockdown 1.0 I realised that I wasn’t having enough quality time with my nearest and dearest. Setting aside some time each week proved essential to keeping connected.
Whether it’s for a morning coffee, video call or dates in imaginary underground cocktail bars, it helped to have the time scheduled in. The Weekly Pad is the tool for the job – tear off the plan for the week and stick it to the fridge.
Weekly Tear-Off Pad, £12.95
Limits on social contact have shrunk our network and, at times, I find myself in an echo chamber or going around in circles. We’re without those random daily interactions where we might pick up snippets of wisdom in unexpected places. Books are my friend at a time like this or, for a more digestible option, I look to Mapology.
Mapology's series of guides fold out to reveal questions and illustrations that'll take you through a journey of self-development. My favourite? In 2017 ‘What’s Bugging You?’ gave me the kick up the bum I needed to move to London and open the second Papersmiths shop.
Our most popular diary this year was the Goal Digger (now sold out). Adored for its combination of scheduling pages with goal setting and tracking system, after the year we’ve had you can imagine why. I think we all want things to actually happen this year and to feel a sense of control over our lives.
Progress Journal, £18
This Progress Journal comes from the same creators as the Goal Digger and is a 90 day progress tracking tool that helps keep that ‘new year’ kickstart feeling alive. The journal breaks your goals down into small steps, and includes task tracking, reflection and gratitude sections.
9. For generating ideas
A blank page on Word doesn’t exactly fill the mind with inspiration. And it’s frustrating not being able to physically go to a coffee shop for a morning of brainstorming, or peruse a place that’s inspiring. But, moving to a different space in the flat makes for a refreshing change of scene.
Magnetic Notes, £3.95
When you’ve got to push past procrastination and do away with delays, I recommend The Hit List.
There's space for ten priority tasks, with neat boxes for flagging what's urgent. Check off what's 'done' with the satisfying tick boxes. Printed in red on bright coloured paper, there's no missing it - however messy your desk it. I recommend yellow for ultimate visibility. There's space for notes, too.
The Hit List, £7
And that's the round up complete. Hope it helps but if you have questions or need more information, you can reach me via our Instagram DMs, or speak to the Papersmiths online team by calling 01273 696769 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.