I’ve seen a few of these posts pop up since I said I was going to post and while I’m not surprised by this, COVID-19 is after all the only topic of conversation at the moment. Having contracted COVID-19 I have to say audiobooks kept me sane has I didn’t have to focus on anything. I sincerely hope that non of my readers share my experience but being read to is a great way to pass the time, especially if you’re feeling under the weather or just fancy a lazy day. I hope you enjoy reading how I’m spending my isolation and I’d love to hear how you are filling your days during this crisis.
I love colouring books. I’m unfortunately not arty and cannot draw to save my life. The beauty of colouring books is that the hard work is done for you. I’ve recently discovered an app called Pigment which I now use on my iPad. It’s available for IOS and Android and makes things even easier as you can finger tap or use a stylus to fill in an area or just set it so you can’t colour over the lines. Great if you have limited hand function. I find as much as I like pencils and paper, after 20 minutes my hands are really sore, whereas on the iPad I can keep going for longer. The app is free with in-app purchases which I recommend you leave alone unless you’re really attached to extra brushes, or colours as the paid version is £7.99 per week! There are plenty of free pages without having to spend anything though. Pigment also lets you import pictures to colour in. There are other free colouring apps, Colorfy is a good example, (also available on Android) but this is my favourite. Check out a couple of my pictures below.
If you’re already a superbly organised individual then feel free to scroll down.
Not the most entertaining thing in the world to do but if you are looking for a way to be productive then this is a good place to start. Having completed this task I can tell you it’s very satisfying and feels even less like work if you have music, the radio or your favourite audiobook on in the background. My process for organising my account followed this pattern, feel free to follow my work pattern or invent your own.
1) Open your email client or sign in using your web browser and click on your inbox
2) Have a piece of paper/your phone next to you before scrolling right to the bottom of your inbox.
3) Go through and read each message, BUT before moving to the next message decide if the email you are currently reading needs to be kept, filed away or left in your inbox because you have to take action before it can be moved. If it’s an email from Amazon or similar trying to persuade you to buy something you don’t want/need then pressing the delete key can feel like a big accomplishment, especially if like me, these kinds of emails have built up over the years! If however it’s something you want to keep, think about a category folder that you could create for that email and write it down on your piece of paper. A few categories I use are: Receipts, Social Services and Volunteering. Move onto the next email in your inbox when you have written a category down and leave the email in your inbox for the moment.
4) Go through all your emails. You should now have deleted all useless ads etc and be left only with an inbox full of emails that you need to take action with and emails that need to be filed. You will now also have a few categories jotted down.
5) If you use an email client, I use Mail on a Mac, you now need to visit your email account via your web browser and create folders for all the categories that you noted down. I use Gmail. Folders are called labels in Gmail and to create a new folder you need to click on an email, find the label icon and type in new label/folder name and click ‘create new.’ Do this for each of the categories you have written down.
NB: Remember to untick the boxes unless you want to move the current email into your new folder.
6) Now you can go back to your inbox and go through it again but this time you can move each email into one of the categories you created. I had emails going back as far as 2016 and it took me about two hours to do all of that so definitely a I’m bored and have nothing more important to do but it makes life so much easier once done.
I also organised my photos into folders in a similar way by putting all the photos from all my devices and memory cards onto my computer hard drive and shifting through them one by one, with my favourite music playing in the background. 🙂
I haven’t done a lot of this as I find video calls exhausting at the moment but it is a great way to stay in touch while we all can’t see each other in person. I really feel for people who haven’t got access to the internet at this present time. I’m mostly using Zoom, as I can have it running on my Mac and everyone can access it. Unlike Facetime, where an Apple device is needed. I’ve just started taking part in two regular quizzes and I’m hoping I’ll feel well enough this Friday to take part in my Freewheelin’ dance class again, after over a month’s absence.
I use two audiobook services, Audible and RBDigital.
Audible is relatively well known and is owned by Amazon. I love the choice and control you have with this service. For £7.99 a month you get one credit on a recurring monthly subscription, unless paused or cancelled. Find a book you like, listen to a sample, this is particularly useful if like me you find some narrators more enjoyable than others. Purchase the book with either a credit or buy paying by credit card. If once you have brought the book you don’t like it for any reason you can return it, and exchange it for another book, as long as you do so within twelve months. When you fist sign up, you have access to a trial for a month, which, as they point out means you get your first book free. At the moment, I’m listening to Wicked by Gregory Maguire. The book is very different two my favourite theatre production. 😉
Tip: when signing up for the free trial, choose the two book a month option, you will get two free books and if you love the service but £14.99 is too expensive you can always downgrade to the one book a month subscription before the trial ends. If you cancel before the trial is up, won’t be charged and you’ll get to keep your books. Pausing membership is where you take a break for three months. You are still a member, membership and billing restarts after three months but for the paused period you are not charged and no more credits are added to your account. Great for when you have too many books to listen to and need to listen to those before picking your next read.
RBDigital is the service Birmingham Libraries uses for it’s members to access audiobooks/magazines and now apparently also newspapers. In my experience it’s a lot more limited than Audible but it is a free service. A valid library card is required and set up is done through your main library webpage. Your city may not use this service, some use Overdrive. Below is a screenshot of Birmingham Libraries page explaining set up and the RBDigital app on my phone.
Ever since I’ve owned E-Readers I’ve loved ebooks. They are so much easier to hold and I can read whilst sitting outside, great when the weather is nice and sunny. I use a Kindle Oasis and an app called Libby. Libby is the ebook app for my library and can be downloaded onto all android, and IOS tablets. Like the RBDigital app, listed above, a valid library card is required but set up can be done through the app itself. The app will ask you to select your local library and input your library card number. If you have an E-Reader that uses the Epub format rather than the Kindle/Mobi one, loans from Libby can be sent to your ereader. The only but rather substantial drawback to my kindle. I use Amazon to get most of my books, which is why I prefer the Kindle of others. Kindle Unlimited is currently offering a free trial to new customers and Project Gutenberg offers free out of copyright books to the public. I’ve also just discovered a website called Manybooks.net, which I’ll be exploring for new books soon.
Last but definitely not least is writing. It helps me relax and get any and all ideas out of my head before I go to sleep at night. At least that’s the theory, it doesn’t quite work that well in practice. While I was ill I couldn’t write at all which is why this post has taken so long, I still find looking at my laptop screen tiring. I couldn’t wait to start writing again so I’m pleased to be getting back to some semblance of normality in these strange times.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about how I’m spending my lockdown. Get in touch and let me know what you’ve been doing to keep busy. If anyone has any podcast recommendations please let me know as I’m interested to know what all the hype is about but unsure where to start as there is so much choice!
Till next time stay safe and well.