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  • Al Mennie

Lockdown Productivity




I thought I would write this in an attempt to help people who may be struggling at the minute through this thing that is being referred to as Lockdown by offering my perspective and telling what I've been doing.


I’m not sure that term is a fair representation of what the rules have been over the past couple of months where I live but regardless I’m going to use it here anyway. I know a lot of people are not at work, their businesses are closed and they may be sick. There is no doubt these are very trying times. Our mindset is being pushed to limit in various ways with all sorts of worries and concerns. One of the most important things I feel you can do is to make decisions. Yes there are some things we are having dictated to us by government but we can gain some control by making decisions within our own lives and sticking to them. That self discipline will straight away help you feel like you are in charge and you are in control to some degree.


At the start of this lockdown there was no specific advice or rules about surfing. I personally chose not to surf. Despite being capable in the sea I decided, as I knew a lot of consultants and NHS workers and I’ve seen what they do and the decisions they make, that just in case I randomly got hit in the head or something that I would stay out of the water rather than potentially add to their work load.


It’s the longest I have ever not been in the water. As a surfer, with it in the blood, that is a very strange thing to go through. Normally I am in the water almost every day, I’m not a recreational surfer in the water once a month or whatever, its much more involved than that for me. I’m usually in the water surfing, paddling, rowing, swimming…all sorts of things almost every day. So, to suddenly not do that has been strange.


The lockdown has had an impact on several of my activities and ventures beyond surfing for me too. Thankfully though, no one I know has become sick, me included.


So, I switched focus to some other things. I decided if I was unable to do what I normally do, I would change tack a little in the meantime, and if that became normality in time, then so be it. I immediately decided I would not wait for this to “blow over” . I picked up my summer training that didn’t involve water time and I started to do it in my spare room. I’ve never been a fan of gyms, I have gone to them over the years at various times but I prefer to work out at home. I’m a bit of a loner at times and I’ve always found I get on better in the privacy of my lockup or spare bedroom. I had nowhere to do chin ups which I find very useful for big wave surfing as they focus on the back so I walked in the forest every night and used branches as a pull up bar.


Aside from that I have completed two new books. They are both very different. The first one I started at Christmas and the subject is something I have great experience in. It is extremely concise and to the point. The second book is 4 times as big, but I wrote it entirely in 6 weeks from start to finish. They will be available very soon. I’ve always been a writer ever since I was a kid so pumping out several thousand words a night is not alien to me.


I have returned to the surf in the past week. It has been a strange experience to say the least. I paddled out at 530am and I got about 30 feet from shore and I stopped. I sat up on my board. I had never felt cold like it or so I thought. My hands were freezing, my shoulders were sore. I felt like I was not me. I had surfed all winter point blank refusing to wear gloves out of nothing more than stubbornness. I felt like I needed to increase self-discipline and so I refused to wear gloves all winter rain, hail or shine. I used to surf without gloves years ago, but I had got into a habit of it in recent years. I caved in one day actually and wore them for one session and I regretted it ever since. So for me to enter the water after lockdown and feel the cold was extremely unusual.


Normally I am like a fish but my first surf after lockdown was a very strange experience. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. I sat there for a few minutes among tiny little waves feeling really strange! I decided I was going to go back ashore. It was like I didn't feel welcome or soemthing. I forced myself to catch a little wave and stood up for a few seconds and rode the little wave that to be honest was barely big enough to carry me. I marched off up the beach to my van in a rage. I turned and looked back at the sea for a moment. Tiny little waves lapped at the shore. I felt like it was punishing me or something. Like it didnt understand why I had not been there and was in a huff. It reminded me of when I've been away from home and my dog is pissed off when I come back and tries not to show that he actually likes me (after he initials goes crazy of course)


I’ve since been in again and I got on much better, the sea and I have re-kindled our relationship somewhat. There has been no surf just hoards of tourists, so I’ve not been in the water other than twice in the past week but I hope that in the next few weeks I can get my head and body back into where I belong!


This virus has had a different impact on absolutely everyone. It is not over yet by the looks of it. I personally have found it difficult to decipher what is fact and what is hearsay in the media. On 4 seperate days over lockdown it got to me. It made me angry and confused. Other than that, I’ve stayed very busy.

If you are reading this and you are struggling to find balance because your life has suddenly changed and it’s getting to you. Obviously, I don’t know you or what you have on your plate but to try and get some sort of balance is a good start in my opinion. My advice is do something. Do anything. Try and first of all settle your mind and control the worries and fears you have by getting knowledge and information that answers the questions you have and deal with whatever you can as best you can, I refer to those as elements you can control. That will help keep some of the anxiety relating to this whole thing at bay. I imagine you won’t find all the answers you need but some answers will help towards trying to keep control of your emotions at this time. There will no doubt be elements that are uncontrollable no matter how hard you try. You have to accept them for this moment in time. Once you have dealt with as many controllable elements as you can and accepted the uncontrollable ones if you can, for now, then you must do something. To begin with it doesn’t matter what you do, just do something. After a while you will start to see things that interest you more and you will gravitate towards them. That is when you start to set goals and objectives. Don’t set goals and objectives until you find the thing you have interest in to keep up for a period of time. It could be anything from fitness to work, a new business, new skills or whatever you want. For me, I set daily targets and I relook at them every day.


Write lists, break them into daily tasks, spread them over the week so that you achieve something by the end of the week that is part of a bigger longer term goal. Some days I get more done than others and the targets need adjusted but ultimately the deadline for whatever it is never changes be that a week, a month or whatever. Sometimes there is a curve ball that we don’t see coming and we need to adjust the plan, that’s life. We can’t predict it but keeping moving, staying at the helm rather than battering down the hatches is in my opinion a better way to keep control.


One thing we know for sure is that we don’t know what is coming around the corner with the virus and the measures to fight it at any moment. Waiting for things to get back to normal was something I decided wasn’t for me and if you have been waiting for that and its lead to feeling uneasy it might be time to start doing something new every day.


Keep an eye out here for the books, I will put them in the shop shortly.

(c)2020 Al Mennie
 

Big Wave Surfer - Ocean Adventurer - Author - Black Belt - Causeway Coast
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