Columnists / Ngaio Anyia

‘I feel like I’m in a totally bizarre dream’

By ngaio anyia, Tuesday Mar 24, 2020

What an utterly mad month this has been. I feel like I’m in a totally bizarre dream.

Tomorrow it would have been a month since I flew to a whirlwind week in Lagos, Nigeria; downloading more into my brain than possible to digest, cramming in and then recording conversations once my brain stopped retaining and then when I got back it was straight into work performing one of the most emotionally intense gigs I’ve done for a while before heading to Devon for my mum’s birthday.


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Then the seriousness of coronavirus spread and before I knew it I’d postponed trips, recalibrated what the next few months looked like and then – distancing. Gigs cancelled left, right and centre with hysteria moving even quicker and now here we are in this strange in-between of mixed messages.

Stay at home, but still go for walks, but stay six feet apart, but wash your hands every five seconds, but it won’t affect you unless you’re vulnerable, but you’ll probably kill all your elderly relatives, but actually it could also kill you, but no it won’t – stop buying all the food, but now a 35-year-old’s in intensive care, but actually we just need to be careful for a few weeks but turns out the army’s going to be deployed on the streets to enforce distancing.


Unverified information flying through WhatsApp groups like wildfire, pictures of empty supermarket shelves, YouTube videos detailing exactly how many people we could kill by breathing in the wrong direction.

It is enough to make everyone’s anxiety fly through the roof and the thing is; no-one knows what the fuck is going on. No-one knows what this virus is, how long it will last or who it will affect.

The media are giving us the only facts they have which unfortunately only really covers how many deaths there have been, who’s died and what support the government is (or is NOT in many cases) providing.

It’s all pretty bleak, which is why I urge you if you can, to unplug from the news, the Twitter feeds, your friend who keeps sending random bits of terror and see this as an opportunity to stay at home and get to know how you work best.

Everyone should be staying at home in order to stop the spread of this virus and give scientists the time and space they need to figure out how it works before it kills thousands of people.

(A little bit of home listening for you – how great are Homas!)

Going for a walk with friends might seem like a small thing but this virus doesn’t have to be symptomatic to be passed on. We could all be carrying it and unknowingly pass it on to a mate who then goes and visits their grandma and suddenly gran’s in hospital and there are no ventilators to keep her alive etc.

It is serious BUT it’s also an opportunity to learn more about yourself and how you work- here are a few questions to keep in mind which I’ve been using since becoming self-employed (which is terrifying in this new turn of events from a work point of view but is quite handy as I’m used to solitary working from home) SO if you had the chance to map out the way you’d want to be able to work…

  • What would that look like?
  • What time of the day are you most productive?
  • What kind of environment helps you think?
  • What’s your attention span like? Are you good with short bursts of attention with breaks or are you a more ‘head down for six hours and clock off’ kind of person?
  • Are certain tasks better for different times of day?

For me, I know that I work best when I have a clear understanding of what my tasks are for that week. I use Trello to keep track of all the projects I have on and then make to-do lists for each of them at the beginning of the week and then tick them off as I go.

I’m my most productive between midday and 8 pm but will do emails in the morning with my coffee and definitely work better when I’m close to a window or natural light.

I work best with candles burning and classical music playing – or if I’m writing, film score music (old Hans Zimmer is my go-to guy for intense writing). My attention span depends completely on the task I’m doing.

If it’s anything ‘bitty’ like emails, social media, boring admin, I’ll switch between them and be very easily distracted so it’s better to do that either in the morning or the evening so I can go and come back and not feel guilty. If it’s something project-based I’ll happily sink into that for four to five hours so that tends to be how I structure my day.

Take this time to experiment: try new things, put some new boundaries in place and start concentrating more on your needs than your work and please, please try to stay away from the anxiety-ridden outlets out there.

Stay indoors, stay mindful and stay safe. This is a time for us all to come together and press the reset button, globally. Sending love out to everyone out there, stay home and stay smiling. Sequins will make things better, fact.

Ngaio Anyia is a musician, DJ and writer. Find more of her writing on her website,, and music on

Main photo by Bobbi O’gilvie at the Black Girl Convention Digi Tech Retreat 2019

Read more: Marvin Rees: ‘Stay home and save lives’

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