Launching during lockdown: Four lessons so far
With hindsight, the first week of April 2020 perhaps wasn’t the simplest time to launch myself into freelance life. Whilst the first month or so of working for myself certainly hasn’t been as I expected, it’s also true that I’m learning some valuable lessons in this very unorthodox start.
With that in mind, I’ve taken a moment to reflect on some of the lessons of these fairly monumental six weeks:
1. Being physically distant but socially connected
I moved to a new town last summer, so have been re-establishing some of the community connections that were so vital to my life and work in Stirling. Lockdown - ironically - has been an opportunity to get to know more of my neighbours as we help one another out, to really get cracking with our street’s community garden, and to lend a hand with some of the community initiatives responding to Coronavirus. Meanwhile, my work as a Grant Assessor for Foundation Scotland has been a chance to connect with community-led activity happening up and down the country.
2. Maintaining connections and mutual support
I’ve seen (and experienced) so much generosity and care from peers, friends and strangers - there’s nothing like a crisis to bring out the best in people. I had the chance to chat to Pamela from Linlithgow Community Development Trust this week, sharing thoughts about the Scottish Government’s Strengthening Communities Fund. It was great to connect to the breadth of work happening locally, to introduce one-another to useful connections, and to chat about how to support the ongoing resilience of new community initiatives we’ve seen emerge during lockdown. It was brilliant to hear how some of the constraints of lockdown have inspired some new and innovative collaborations - long may that continue.
3. So many (free) opportunities to learn something new
I’m grateful to co-conspirator Robyn Jancovich-Brown for introducing me to Miro this week - an online tool that works very much like a table full of post-it notes - leading to a really rich and productive thinking session with Cultured Mongrel. We’re at the beginning of a journey to creating a comms plan that’s authentic, practical and realistic, and spent a really positive couple of hours together identifying what we want to achieve, how, and with whom.
I’ve appreciated the huge wealth of resources compiled, created and shared by the Creative Entrepreneurs Club (membership is free at the moment). And I’ve finally gotten around to booking myself onto a free (online) course with Business Gateway to get my first financial self-assessment nailed.
4. The importance of taking a breath
Like many of us, I’m often guilty of dashing around at a hundred miles an hour, and of expecting way too much of myself. Whilst I’ve certainly been guilty of that at times during lockdown, enforced breathing space from some work has also been a chance to catch up with myself. I’ve had breakfast in the garden, spotted satellites in the night sky, and gradually started to find headspace for reading again (I’ve just downloaded Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, which has been on my to-read list for months).
With the end to the lockdown still feeling some way off, I’ll be trying to follow my own advice over the coming weeks. Finding a happy medium - between work and headspace, worry and acceptance, caring for self and others - feels delicate and fragile; changing hour to hour, as well as day to day. I’ll be trying to cut myself some slack, whilst also recognising the potential of these weeks to reflect, plan, learn and prepare.
Here’s to finding some balance….