retaining a structure and routine on furlough

September 17, 2020



Lockdown gave me an opportunity to reflect, assess my life situation and use the time to finally action those tedious jobs that had been on my ever-growing to-do list. Retreating back to my childhood hobbies, I bought a bike and started cycling again, these days I don’t leave home without it! I re-discovered ways to express myself, I started painting, writing and playing tennis, activities I hadn’t done in years, and worked on improving my Spanish and cooking skills.  


While the rest of the working team we're supporting our clients through unprecedented times, being furloughed, could have led me down a path of stress, worry and also boredom, due to the uncertainty of the pandemic situation and a huge amount of time on my hands. However, I made a commitment to myself at the beginning, to see this as an opportunity for ‘me-time’, for self-development, and turns out it was a lot more beneficial and rewarding than I expected.


Don’t get me wrong, there were days that felt like Groundhog Day.  At times, I woke up and I didn’t want to do anything that day, and I did just that (it took a while for the guilt to subside for ‘just relaxing’ but it eventually did). However, many webinars and classes, daily meditations and fitness activities really helped maintain my focus and motivation throughout lockdown and I continue to enjoy these activities still after returning to work.


Here’s a few webinars and online experiences to help you stay busy and positive throughout furlough.




Personal coaching with Lindsay Patterson.


The life coaching sessions I had with Lindsay has been the most valuable activity I undertook during my time on furlough. I was fortunate to have completed a course with Lindsay last year and she kindly offered to provide some free sessions throughout lockdown, which I’m ever so grateful for. I spoke with Lindsay every second week for 1 – 1.5 hours, her knowledge and guidance were key to ensuring there was structure and routine to my days. I set myself goals; writing them down meant they weren’t just a dream, and sharing them with Lindsay held me accountable and motivated me to complete them.


But, it was not all rosy in the garden, there were actions that I couldn’t do as they filled me with dread. Instead of continuing to push myself and feeling negative about it, I accepted that right now wasn’t the time to complete them. I went through a phase where I was feeling guilty that I wasn’t using my time effectively, I had my daily to-do list and when I didn’t achieve everything on it, I felt stressed going to bed. However after discussing it with Lindsay I stopped with the daily to-do lists and my mantra was ‘do what makes me feel happy’. It was such a relief and a weight lifted from me. I realised I didn’t need to do everything all at once, instead of just ticking things off my list, I started to appreciate each activity I did, bringing awareness to that experience and enjoying it. Maintaining awareness is difficult, it’s something I know I need to continually work on but it’s worth it!


Own today-2



Grow your own gravitas with Jayne Constantinis.


As members of the PRCA (Public Relations and Communications Association) the Siren team can attend a range of events hosted by the PRCA yearly. Throughout COVID-19 we were given the opportunity to attend a virtual event free of charge. I decided to do this course to remind me of some practical tips and techniques to help me resonate with audiences, especially in new business pitches. Jayne has such a breadth of experience in this field working as a presenter for BBC as well as a trainer and voiceover actor. Jayne offered amazing tips on how to be more impactful in the virtual world (basically on daily Zoom meetings and phone calls), looking at the areas of voice, body language, persuasion and message planning techniques. The course really made me think about how I present myself on camera and how a few small changes can have a huge impact on your presence and your communication habits.





Ruth's Little Kitchen.


As a team bonding exercise we did a virtual cookery class with one of our clients ‘Ruth’s Little Kitchen’. It was my first attempt at a virtual cooking class, I wasn’t sure how this would work but I was intrigued. Ruth sent us a recipe for empanadas, a scrumptious Spanish treat I adore but had never made before. Ruth was great, a very lively, bubbly character joking and laughing while she cooked and we copied her step by step. Being sent the recipe a few days beforehand meant we had time to prepare. There were a few options for fillings but Ruth ultimately gave us free reign on what we wanted to fill our empanadas with. The best had to be from one of our juniors, Annie who used the ingredients from an all-day breakfast can, I didn’t realise such a can existed but I’m sure her empanadas made breakfast time much more fun! The whole experience was interactive and easy, the empanadas turned out deliciously well for a first timer (I didn’t poison anyone – that has to be a good start!) and I used the leftover pastry to make more the next day. I would definitely recommend a  virtual cooking class, it’s immersive, fun and even better with a glass of wine in hand!







Last but not least, Barry’swas a saviour for me during furlough. They offered several Instagram Live classes daily throughout lockdown. The classes consisted of HIIT, bodyweight and bands classes, each lasting 30 minutes. They were quick, energetic and got the heart pumping. The majority of them didn’t require equipment, just motivation and tonnes of energy. The trainers were excellent and pushed you hard, even when you thought you had reached your limit. The beauty of these classes was that they were all free so it was accessible to everyone even if you weren’t a  Barry’s member previously. They did ask you to donate if you could, which resulted in them raising thousands of pounds. These classes were a crucial part of my routine throughout lockdown, especially when the parks around me were closed. Barry’s was one of many fitness companies who really helped keep us on top of our physical (and mental) wellbeing when we needed it most.





For the majority of us, our normal daily routines were tipped upside down overnight and we had to quickly adapt to a new way of living. Communities and people came together in the hour of need and this was evident in all of the free classes and webinars that were offered throughout the pandemic. I learned having a sense of purpose and structure in your day is key to maintaining your mental focus, the webinars and classes gave me that.  In times like these, we need to stay positive and look on the bright side of the situation and use the time meaningfully to learn, develop and, of course, enjoy.