Whether you’re living on your own, with family or friends, being at home with no work can be daunting. As tempting as ‘completing’ Netflix is, weeks glued to the television in your PJs probably isn’t that good for you.
Nearly 9 million people are expected to be furloughed in the UK – that’s a lot of twiddling thumbs. Some are managing just fine, but there will be a number of others deeply unsettled – feeling unwanted, surplus, lacking purpose. It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but plenty of good can come from this.
For a start, there’s no commute. A chance then to spend more time with the kids – whether you like it or not – and the perfect opportunity to try new things. Furlough sounds grim, but was introduced to show people there is light at the end of the tunnel. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a period of doom and gloom.
Idleness and the sofa may be all you see before you, but keeping yourself busy is the best way to pass the time and also look after your physical and mental health. Furlough is a chance to chill and a chance to learn, grow, and improve. There are ample opportunities out there, but we also understand the financial strain of Covid-19. So, we’ve put together a list of things you can do to occupy yourself without any extra cost.
Telephone Befriending Service
Coronavirus is affecting lives in many ways. It can bring loneliness. The rules of lockdown mean many people have no, or little, human interaction. Octavia Housing, which offers social housing and care services for vulnerable members of the community, are running a telephone service for lonely and isolated people in London.
They’re looking for people to offer their time and talk about hobbies and interests with people on their own. In these times, the human connection we normally take for granted is invaluable. Octavia’s service helps both you and the person on the other end of the phone. It gives them something to look forward to and adds routine to your day. It’s also just a great thing to do – a way of building friendships in a time of pandemic.
Donate Your Skills to Charity
Don’t let your skills go to waste. You might not be working right now, but you may be a valuable asset elsewhere. Charities are struggling because of Covid-19 and they’re asking people to come forward with their skills. It’s a selfless way of making a real difference.
The property industry charity that we have always supported, LandAid, have introduced their ‘Pro Bono Programme’: “matching property skills to our partners’ needs.” Some of these skills include property; law; communications; logistics; property management; HR and finance. If you feel like your talent is being wasted, then this is the perfect opportunity to reactivate it and help those in need.
Volunteer for the NHS
The new superheroes. We cannot thank them enough. But we can help. Behind the front line, there’s an entire system of people, all engaged in the struggle against the virus in their own way. The NHS asked for 250,000 people; they now have 1 million. The response has been outstanding, but the work isn’t finished.
People are still needed in a number of areas: delivering medicine, driving patients to and from the hospital, and checking up by phone on those isolating. The NHS is one of Britain’s most treasured assets. If you’re furloughed and desperate to make a difference, there’s no better way than by volunteering for the NHS.
Foster a Dog
Looking after our key workers is vital. So too is looking after their pets. For these workers, the hours and stress of Coronavirus are having an impact on how much time they can give their pets.The Country Dog Hotel has created a voluntary service, to help support key workers and vulnerable people by looking after their dogs. This may involve walking or in some cases offering temporary foster care. For dog-lovers on furlough, it’s a no-brainer.
Learn a New Skill
Of course, furlough is a chance to help others in need. It’s also an opportunity to improve yourself. Learning a new skill is a great way to challenge yourself and keep your mind busy. It’s something for right now, perhaps to be completed down the line. When Coronavirus has passed, you’ll be able to look back and say you achieved something.
The online learning site, Coursera, are offering a number of free courses and learning resources online during Covid-19. Courses are pre-recorded, so you can be flexible about when you learn and build it into your week. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors is also offering free CPD until the end of July. So, if you’re a Chartered Surveyor reading this, we definitely recommend taking a look. There’s no end date for Covid-19, and you can never have too many skills.
Learn a New Language
You say it every year: ‘I’m going to learn a new language.’ For some reason, it never quite happens. Lots of us simply don’t have the time after work, family commitments, and social activities. It’s just so much wishful thinking. If you’ve been furloughed, then now is the perfect time to finally become the multilingual mastermind of your dreams.
The online language-learning app, Duolingo, has seen a traffic spike in recent weeks, with global sign-ups increasing by 108%. Learning a new language has many cognitive benefits, including improved memory. It also means you can finally ask for the bill with confidence on your next holiday.
If you’ve been furloughed and find yourself lacking structure, purpose – or you’re just really bored – keeping busy and engaged with something is a great way of filling the gap left by work. If you have any questions regarding furlough or the current employment situation within the property industry, please do get in touch with one of our consultants here.