Since the 24th March 2020, the country, and many other parts of the world have been in lockdown in order to combat the virus known as COVID-19. Simply put, the lockdown means only necessary travel for essentials like food and medicine, as well as exercise (once a day) should be undertaken for the foreseeable future.
So in these difficult times read on to see what the UX-Digital team recommend for keeping busy and, bonus see some of the things we have been getting up to!
“It’s hard to kill the human spirit” - Les Brown
Long live the internet!
Fortunately, we live in a glorious age of modern technology where we can still communicate and stay connected “face to face”. Be it for work (for many industries) or play without having to leave the living room couch.
When it comes to play, naturally, there’s only so much time (likely an unpopular opinion with most teenagers) most of us can spend online before needing to break out of our Netflix binge-watching and intense online gaming sessions.
That said, If you’re finding yourself going stir-crazy, feeling alone, or you’re just bored and looking for new entertainment ideas, you’re going to want to read on. We’ll be covering some key ways you can stay sane during the lockdown, develop personally and professionally, and have lots of fun along the way!
Working from Home
Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge the thing that puts bread (if you can manage to get any in the supermarket!) on the table first, work and the adjustment to working from home.
Just like you would if you were commuting to your workplace, it’s important to set daily routines that help you to get into a productive state. Sadly that doesn’t mean waking up at 8:58AM to be ready to work by 09:00AM in your pyjamas. Take a look here for some great routine planner ideas, we particularly liked the 'I'm bored' activity jar!
Setting daily routines for the working week is vital for a sense of preparedness, clarity and focus. Your routines should give you time in advance to decide what you’ll be working on each day. Above all, set your routine and don’t give in to the urge to make excuses for not getting out of bed and showering because “no one will see you anyway”.
That said, using video chatting software like Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype or Facetime (mobile app) is a great way to stay connected with your colleagues. Many have presentation/screen share options allowing you to not only see your colleagues and converse in real time, but also to see each others’ work and where you are with individual projects and tasks. It’s the next best thing to being able to have physical meetings…aren’t you glad you had that morning shower and changed out of your dressing gown after all!
Make your Friday video meetings a little more fun and creative with competitions and fancy dress contests, prizes for the best participants!
Lastly, if you can, try adding a little variety to your home working environment. Experiment with switching the rooms you’re working in, open some windows to let fresh air in, maybe try changing the radio station. It might seem silly but it’s amazing how small changes to your working environment can make you feel more alert and present in the work you’re doing.
Leisure time at home
With home working covered, let’s take a look at some great ways to spend home time outside of work.
One thing we can all agree on is exercise is beneficial for both physical and mental health, and being under lockdown shouldn't stop you exercising. If anything, it’s even more important to get those endorphins going! While the government permits exercise once daily outside of your home, it’s generally advisable to limit these exercise activities to walks and runs, avoiding contact with anyone outside your household.
Yoga is a great physical and mental workout, offering meditation through deep breathing, stretches to work those stresses out of your muscles and best of all you can practice this as a household with yoga poses suitable for all abilities.
However, if you’re like some members of our team, you may want to train for strength and conditioning too, when the gyms are closed, it’s time to dust your weights off and hit Youtube for some great workout videos straight through your smart TV or computer.
From exercises to get your heart rate up and burning some calories, to exercises that engage your core, tone your glutes and legs, to different chest activation movements, tricep exercises and back exercises, whatever you want to target, there’s likely a way to do it at home, and the best part is you can do it without weights too. Try moving all the furniture back, get your leg warmers out and try an 80’s aerobic session for some light hearted, fitness fun! Check out
If you’re unsure where to start or want to try something new, there’s plenty of workout routines just a simple internet search away. Many gym instructors are hosting live workout sessions that you can log into or watch via Facebook live. A big trend particularly if you have a family and children to keep entertained are the Joe Wicks workout videos available on Youtube and updated daily.
Speaking from first hand experience, we recommend giving these natural body weight exercises a try, we guarantee you won’t be sorely disappointed, just sore, so have a good source of protein ready for recovery afterwards!
Speaking of protein, it’s easy at the moment to order a takeaway, particularly with the restrictions and queues at supermarkets, but with all your free time and limited movement it’s important to maintain a healthy, balanced diet as well as getting the exercise you need.
Cook up a storm
Remember that recipe book gifted from Aunt Mabel a few Christmases ago? The one that’s been on the shelf collecting dust since? Well, why not actually use it?!
With all the free time you have at home at the moment, why not learn to make a new dish? Granted some ingredients at present may be a bit of a stretch to acquire - we’re not talking about sourcing the finest Saffron or Caviar here. Just using some basic ingredients you have in the back of the cupboards for a dish to make dinner time a little more exciting and varied.
We recommend not over-complicating this too much, it could be a dish you’ve tried somewhere, why not try recreating it at home? The key here is to have fun experimenting and enjoying the process of getting your creative and culinary juices flowing. Take a look at Jamie Olivers website for all kinds of quick and easy recipe ideas.
Bake some goodies
We can’t speak for everyone, but we’ve certainly made a bit more room for treats than usual. So, instead of grabbing your baked, sweet treats off the shelf, why not try your hand at baking some for yourself?
Just like cooking, baking is a great opportunity to try new things and productively spend some time learning the culinary craft. Take a look at the Youtube channel Lily Bakes for some fun baking time with the kids.
The beginning of the brighter days is the perfect excuse to bring a little of the Spring season indoors. Using fresh fruits like berries, lemons and other citrus fruits will not only bring some fresh colours and smells into your living space, they’re also great ingredients to bake with that can support the body’s immune system, helping you stay healthy and fighting fit.
Connect with friends - Houseparty
If you haven't heard of Houseparty, where have you been?! Houseparty is a social networking platform that works with video chat, connecting you to friends and family (provided they’re users too) through either mobile phones or internet connected device apps.
It’s a fantastic way to keep in contact with loved ones as it allows you to not only see one another, (multiple people in one chat group) but to let off some steam through group games as you connect with one another in real time.
It’s a great way to pass the time and connect with friends and family through healthy competition, let’s face it, we all have that one competitive friend/family member. If you’re not aware of who it is, it’s probably you, in which case, be honest, it feels good to win!
Regardless of what type of player you are, the app is certainly worth checking out as it’s free to play and lots of your friends are probably already there.
Think of it like family game night, instead of being confined to Christmas or the odd day throughout the year you can see each other and ‘hang out’ as a family or friendship group anytime.
TV & Movies
Unless you have been living in a cave for a while, we’re sure many of you are aware of the wonderful world of streaming services like Netflix, Sony’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft’s Xbox Live.
While you should probably limit your time watching TV to a few hours a day, we couldn't write a blog about things to do while you're stuck at home without mentioning the escapism that streaming can offer.
Online streaming services are perfect for when you just want to sink into your sofa and lose yourself in an excellent cinematic or television experience.
Whether you’re looking for something truly binge worthy for a serious sofa surfing session, or a light-hearted series you can pick up and watch at your leisure, (maybe between work breaks or when you have free time) the extensive library of TV shows and movies on Netflix might just be what you’re looking for. The service’s algorithm “learns” your preferences and even provides recommendations based on the previous shows and movies you’ve watched.
If you’re new to the service, Netflix provides you with popular titles you may have already seen and asks you to select up to a certain number to build your profile from scratch.
With tons of different genres and options, Netflix is certainly one to check out, if you’re still unsure on what to watch, the platform even has a “Top 10 in the UK Today” section for you to browse to help you decide.
Released the same day the UK lockdown was announced, Disney+ came to our rescue to keep us entertained! The streaming service is full of the latest movies from Pixar and Marvel as well as all of your childhood favourites, all in one place, allowing you to entertain the kids and indulge your inner child.
From nostalgic classics like Bambi, new series like the latest Star Wars addition, Mandalorian or even magical sing-along flicks like Frozen, there’s something to suit everyone.
So whether it’s for you to get lost in, or something to give you peace of mind while the kids are indulging, or both, Disney+ is an endless source of entertainment you’ll love using.
If you’re a gamer like some of the members of our team, most next generation consoles have digital options when it comes to buying games. That means you don’t have to go into stores to buy them, they’re instantly installable from home, provided you have the memory space on your console.
Much like Netflix, there’s something for everyone, with different game genres you can either play alone (thrilling with certain thriller/horror games like the resident evil or dead space series), or online with fellow Xbox live, PC, Nintendo Switch Online or Playstation Network members.
You can even duke it out with friends that are on the same console and speak in real time as you’re playing to take the experience to the next level with games like FIFA, Call of Duty, Fortnite or Grand Theft Auto.
Some of our favourites depend on the mood we’re in, with different games for each occasion.
If you’re in self-isolation alone and seeking a thrill, we recommend the beautifully remastered Resident Evil 2. It’s refined graphics, creepy ghoulies and scarce ammo will leave you entertained for hours as you fight for your survival.
If it’s good old fashioned family fun you’re after, Smash Bros Ultimate (and many of the Super Mario games) is the way to go. With up to four players being able to play on the same console at once, options to fight against each other or on teams and with powered items available, this colourful and wacky game will be a family favourite - You can also disable items and fight with nothing but skill, the way we prefer to play!
Take a look at Origin for downloading games on your Desktop or PC too, we recommend Sims for losing a few hours in some silly but comfortingly familiar tasks.
Get lost in a good book
Most people have at least a few books on a shelf somewhere. If you’re among the ones that do, why not grab yourself a favourite or a title you have been meaning to get to for a while and dive into its pages? The beautiful thing about reading is you can get lost in an entirely different world, with your own imagination to bring the story to life.
In many cases, E-books are also available to download via the Amazon Kindle app, Amazon Kindle devices, Ipads, PC’s and other smart devices. Not all of these are free but if you have a good look there are some great books available completely free and if you have an Amazon Prime account, you have a vast library of free books to try on Kindle Unlimited.
Kindle Unlimited currently has the Harry Potter titles available to download, a great series to reread or introduce to your children (if you haven't already) why not read and watch the films together to enhance the experience?
If reading for entertainment isn’t motivation enough, reading also comes with various physical and mental health benefits. Daily reading sessions can improve memory and empathy, as well as help you to feel more positive and reduce stress, not a bad thing at all when you’re stuck indoors!
Reading, Webinars, Workshops & Videos to learn
If you’re not one for getting lost in fictitious literary works, why not read or find a webinar to learn something new or improve your personal and professional knowledge?
In a time where we can’t physically visit other countries and attractions for our cultural fix, reading about their history and culture or even learning the language is a pretty good way to prepare for the day you can visit. Why not take advantage of one of the many virtual tours available for beautiful outdoor spaces like Waddesdon Manor Gardens and famous cultural landmarks like the Louvre Palace in Paris.
There are apps to download for learning a new language and online tutorials to learn to play a new instrument or for learning a range of new skills, the possibilities are endless! There’s likely tons of books and online resources dedicated to your chosen subject. Just imagine, how awesome would it be to finally learn how to play the guitar like Slash? Ok, well maybe not exactly like Slash but you could make a productive start.
Arts, Crafts & DIY Projects
Unleash your inner artist and start looking at the odds and ends lying around your house in a different way! Those jeans in the back of your wardrobe could be jazzed up with ribbon, sequins or buttons. The old curtains you were going to throw away could become some great new scatter cushions to brighten up your living room. Or what about old and tired furniture? Grab your sander and paintbrushes and head to the garden for some upcycling.
For some truly unhampered artistic expression, find all your old paints in the garage and an old bed sheet and take the kids to the garden for a sunny afternoon of painting, dancing and fun! When you're done you might have a masterpiece to put on the wall and remember the quality time your family spent together.
We all have those odd jobs around the house we have been meaning to get too, that draw with the loose front, that wall that needs a fresh coat of paint. This is a great time to get these things done and as a bonus ticking little jobs like this off your mental to do list will give your mood a fantastic boost, not to mention making the space you are in more enjoyable, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.
The point is, currently, we’ve all got lots of time within our homes, a lot more time than we are used to and that said, your approach to this can either be...
“I’ve got too much time stuck at home...” OR “I’ve got loads of time to do all the things i’ve always wanted to try or been putting off!”
Finding the time to have fun, while efficiently remote working and being personally productive is sure to make your time in lockdown a lot more enjoyable and rewarding as well as taking care of mind and body!
That said, how are you going to spend your time in lockdown, and what are you excited to try?
Why not let us know what you’re doing - whether it's work, learning something new, crafts, baking or smashing the latest games, take a picture of your activities/projects and tag us on social media.