Don’t worry, I’m not cracking up (at least no more than usual), it’s a question I’m asked almost daily, in fact you probably are too. In my experience people are spending more time checking everyone is ok. Sometimes it’s more interesting to ask how people are coping and and filling their days in these lockdown times rather than talk about the future of retirement planning.
Everyone has a story about their coping mechanism and I do feel for people having to home school the kids - even Prof Brian Cox spoke about how tough it was.
At Financial Planning Today we’ve just launched an occasional series asking people about their new-look days. It’s called “My Working from Home Day” and many thanks to David Ingelsfield, CEO of Independent Wealth Planners for taking part in the first one. You can read it here 'My Working from Home Day.'
His typical day seemed extraordinary busily to me but I can see the argument for keeping busy and focused. He is a busy CEO after all with a growing company to run.
Keeping focused during the working day is something I’ve tried to do myself, with admittedly mixed results.
I get up pretty early, usually around 6.30 am and typically spend my first hour having breakfast and doing some morning exercise (often with the cat joining in - where would we be without cats?).
I’m at my home office desk by about 7.30/8am and that would not change much if I was at the ‘proper’ office. I’ve even brought my office Mac home so my home office replicates my office environment as much as possible. I find this ‘familiarity’ helps focus and efficiency. I’m trying to continue as near normal as possible in terms of working days.
Of course there are no trips to central London for coffee or pleasant lunches with industry colleagues and old friends, no conferences or events or pretty much anything away from the home apart from the rather pleasant, if increasingly familiar, daily walk.
Working in the media I’m fortunate to be able to work from home and have plent of experience of doing it. When I left my job at a large publisher of pink financial newspapers in central London about 15 years ago I worked as a freelance journalist for over 3 years, mainly from home, so I have plenty of experience in working from home. I suspect others suddenly thrown into home working find it tougher.
If there is any challenge it’s the tedium of working in a confined space and doing often repetitious tasks. Boredom is a problem and breaks are key.
I find keeping busy is good but distractions are always around the corner. If I hear a favourite track on the radio, I have to stop myself looking up the lyrics and the history of the song, being a bit of a music geek.
You probably have your own distractions, Twitter or social media perhaps? Sorting out a playlist? Or maybe a partner making too much noise while working out to a Joe Wicks video (always a concern). We all suffer distractions and none more so than me but if I am caught spending too much time looking up pointless facts on Google I always call it research and research is good, isn’t it?
So in a nutshell, I’m getting through it as I suspect you are too and most of the people I talk to on the phone each week are doing the same because it’s the only choice. I can understand why people with underlying anxiety or depression find the current time difficult but having a plan and following it helps.
Overall, I’m an optimist. I believe we will get back to better times eventually. Certainly the stock markets currently believe that and I’ve been surprised by the rapidity of the stock market recovery so far although of course things will remain volatile for a long time.
In terms of the Financial Planning profession we’ve run a couple of postive stories this week about firms recruiting more staff (Progeny and Continuum to quote a couple) so the sector remains, largely but not completely, robust and resilient. That’s encouraging and if you look hard enough there are many other reasons to be positive, although I think the second half of the year will be a tough one for many.
So that’s all for now, have a good weekend and if you’ll excuse me, I’ve just caught a classic Hendrix track on the radio and I always wondered what those Dylan-esque lyrics meant…
Kevin O’Donnell is editor of Financial Planning Today and a financial journalist with 30 years experience. This topical comment on the Financial Planning news appears most weeks.