Month: November 2020

AWUK Board in Lockdown | Beth Parker

AWUK Board in Lockdown | Beth Parker

Continuing from our post a few months ago, we caught up with AWUK Animation Chair, Beth Parker to see how her life had changed during 2020.

Beth Parker, Animation Chair at AWUK

I was in a fortunate position as the pandemic hit – having left my job at Disney in February, I was planning to spend some time working from home, but definitely not with the kind of restrictions lockdown brought! I returned from a trip to the US just as borders were closing in various parts of the world, and granted, what happened next was a bit of a shock at first. But I am a creative producer, we thrive on solving problems and love a bit of structure and organisation. So, without further ado, and since it looks like we’re not going to get back to any kind of crowd surfing any time soon, here are my top five survival tips for keeping your head above water during these difficult times:

Give your days structured and keep routines:

For me, it has been essential to keep to the same weekday routine I had previously. However, I have to admit, this has been really hard as I am not a morning person and it never was an easy ride! I do need time to get into the day, so even when I don’t get up at 6.30, I have to follow the same routine and replace my 90-minute commute with at least 30 minutes of yoga and a read. The only thing I miss about that insane commute is having the time to read, so I make sure I put that time aside in the morning. If I can do all this and still get to my desk for 9.00, then the day has got off to a good start, my mind is clear and focussed. And if it’s an hour later, well so be it.

At the beginning of every day, I break the day down into my to-do list, but as a rule of thumb, I spend half the day on admin and networking and half the day on creating and learning. Breaking the day up helps me from getting too distracted, as I am someone who finds it hard to focus on one thing for very long. If I know I only have an hour to do something, then I get down to it!

Make a specific workspace and ‘go to work’:

I appreciate this is easier for some than for others, as it depends on available space, but I have found it is really important to ‘get up and go to work’, even if that’s just going to another room. You don’t have to dress up for work like you would if you were going to the office or studio, but get out of your pyjamas at least, and make a space somewhere that is just for working. Make sure you’re sitting properly and are away from as many distractions as possible. I am lucky enough to have a room that I can work in, one corner is dedicated to animation, the other to making music! At least if my focus wanders in here, it can wander into doing something creative, which is productive.

Talk to people:

I live on my own and don’t drive, so the hardest thing for me has been having to spend all day every day alone and unable to get much further than the local shops. That was really tough for the first few weeks of lockdown, but then I started reaching out to my network and putting regular calls and video conferences into the diary. This not only made sure my professional profile was still fresh in people’s memories, it kept me talking to people! In doing this I also discovered others living alone and we put regular ‘virtual coffees’ into our diaries and catch up weekly. We talk about work, but also about how we’ve been feeling over the week – it’s really important to have someone you can talk honestly to, whether that is a friend or a colleague. I find it useful to have close friends in the business to talk to, because they at least then understand what it is I do all day!

Get outside:

Early in lockdown, we were only allowed to go out once a day for exercise. To be honest, I didn’t always make the most of this as a knee injury earlier in the year took long walks off the table for a while, but I’m also lucky enough to have a garden. Despite being sandwiched between two rather noisy construction sites, every day, once they’ve finished, I take a coffee outside and sit and watch nature for 15-30 minutes, whatever the weather. Not only it is good to get away from the screens for a while, I need the air. If anyone caught Springwatch this year, you’ll know how wonderful those moments in nature, even just a little patch in the city, are for the soul and I can’t believe I didn’t squeeze this into my daily routine before! I will from now on.

Learn:

This is something I have always tried and fit into the day anyway and comes from when I was studying part-time. Like reading, learning a new skill keeps the mind from freezing over or going into dark places. For me anyway. It can be anything and doesn’t have to take lots of time. For example, last year I discovered Duolingo and have been brushing up on my Spanish and learning Swedish from scratch. I can now watch a Nordic crime drama and have a pretty good idea of what is going on without the subtitles! During total lockdown, I took advantage of Adobe’s trial extensions and brushed up my Pro and AFX skills, so that I could make a couple of music videos. As a musician, there is always something to learn, whether it’s a new piece of kit or a new piece of music, or just brushing up the repertoire. It depends what else is in the diary, but I put at least half an hour aside for learning every day.

Beth

Beth at work

There are pros and cons to living alone – I haven’t had children to home-school and therefore, in theory, have way more time than most. I’m also healthy and don’t come into contact with many other people, so the risk of me getting the virus is low. But isolation has been a mental battle sometimes and I have found emotions rollercoaster from day to day, not having people to bounce ideas off or just talk through the things that I have been anxious about, can exasperate negative thoughts sometimes. Not to mention the lack of physical contact. I can’t remember the last time I brushed past someone, let alone had a hug. But as someone who is used to their own company, it has been better than it has been for some – without the piano and the bird table, lockdown would have been really very tough, and I seriously have to ask myself now, whether living in London is all it is cracked up to be, but that’s for another day.

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