If the Global COIVD-19 pandemic did anything positive at all then I think it gave people the world over a chance to rediscover a work-life balance!
BC (yup, that’s ‘Before COVID’) I worked upwards of 50 hours a week in the office often with a 2 hour each way commute, meaning I was dedicating 14 hours a day to work with very little consideration for what that was doing for my own emotional and mental wellbeing.
I was enjoying my job and was used to the long hours so it wasn’t a problem, but when COVID hit and we were plunged in to lockdown, I, like many millions of others was forced to start working from home full time and over the last, almost 2 years now, I have to be honest and say it has really made me re-evaluate my life!
The early days of working from home were tough. It was isolating and lonely, especially as a lot of my colleagues were furloughed. In the first few months I actually found myself working longer and harder than I had ever done before – even without the four hour daily commute I will still getting up at the same time every morning and working for 14 hours a day – oftentimes without even taking a proper break for lunch!
Working long hours, coupled with not being able to see friends or do any of the usual things I used to do to relax, decompress and have fun meant that by the end of summer I was pretty low and I knew I needed to do something to feel better.
I actually sought professional help in the form of a psychological wellbeing practitioner and she helped me see that all work and no play didn’t have to be the work from home way of life.
She encouraged me to find creative ways to do the sports I enjoy – we bought a rowing machine and cross trainer for the garage and roller skates to make our one walk of the day more fun, and she encouraged me to find new hobbies – and that was how I stumbled upon online gaming.
I spend so much time at my computer and that wasn’t going to change, but I started factoring in a short 5-10 minute break, (okay, maybe 10-15 minutes… ) every couple of hours when I would just do something different on my computer.
Initially I started off looking at exotic places to get away, but that wasn’t making me feel any better. Then I turned to social media – and just found more people feeling the way I was feeling. Then I tried the news but there was nothing good there. Finally, I was chatting to a colleague and they mentioned that they play games on their computer.
I used to play games – I mean who wasn’t a little bit addicted to simulation games when they started coming out in the early 2000’s? But I hadn’t played games, at least not on a PC for years!
I was intrigued and went off in search of an old favourite from way back when – Tetris – which I found in the form of Tetra Blocks!
I can neither confirm, nor deny how much work I got done that afternoon – but I had found a way to de-stress and unplug from all the negativity going on in the world, and all without even getting up out of my chair!
Tetra Blocks remains one of my favourite games (not to mention a saver of my sanity when I’m stuck on hold to someone), but after a while I did actually find another genre of game that is even more addictive – Zombie Typing, which sounds a bit silly, but just wait until you get past level 10 and those zombies are flying at you at quite a speed! If you don’t spell their word correctly they’ll keep coming and if they reach you they only have to hit you four times, then you’re dead! It says its a game for kids, but don’t let that stop you playing it – it’s quite addictive!
I actually enjoyed Zombie Typing so much as it reminded me of the package I used to learn touch typing years ago, so I went looking for other typing games and actually found quite a few. The good thing is, even though I play the games to unwind and de-stress, over time I’ve seen my typing speed and accuracy improve as well.
These are some of my favourites – other than Zombie Typing, of course:
Speed Type – The aim of this game is to correctly type as many words as possible in the time allowed. The words very in difficulty and sometimes you’ll have an easy or short word followed by a difficult or long word so its not like it just gets progressively harder. I know this game has helped me improve both my accuracy and typing speed.
Fast Typer – This game looks and sounds like an old fashioned type writer which is oddly comforting. The premise is pretty similar to Speed Type – type as many words as quickly and accurate as possible in the time allowed. This one catches me out sometimes though as if you make a mistake you need to stop and wait for the next word, if you try to keep typing you get the next word wrong as well, so it’s a bit more challenging than Speed Type.
Typing Battle – In this game there are quite a number of words already on the screen, but you only have to type the one that the box appears around. This happens at random so you don’t know which word you’re going to type next so you have to learn to block out the other words and just look for the box to tell you which word to type. Again there is a timer and the game measures accuracy and speed.
My last one is Type Express – This game is a little different to the others as the individual letters rain down from the top of the screen making words but you have to type them in the correct order to get the points. The words start off quite short, but as you progress through the levels they get longer and faster, making this game quite the challenge by the time you get to level 6 or so!
There are several other typing games that I’ve played and also enjoyed, but these five are definitely my favourites and although I play them just for fun and to help me maintain my work-life balance whilst working from home you could also use them to help maintain dexterity in your fingers, as a sort of physiotherapy if recovering from an injury to your fingers, or even to help a child or young person to learn to type.
Of course, if typing isn’t your thing then there are literally hundreds of other games to check out so if you do need a little ‘you’ time, and you’re not sure what to do to find it, check it out!