Still trying to work in your pyjamas? See if these words of wisdom from Shakespeare can help get you motivated during the lockdown.

We're all in this together (but apart)

You that way and you this, but two in company;
Each man apart, all single and alone

- Timon of Athens, Act 5 Scene 1

Making the best of this strange situation means accepting our new normal. Look for the positives in feeling "all single and alone" - whether it's working without the boss breathing down your neck for a change, or having the time to start that exciting new project you've been thinking about. 

Kathryn Hunter as Timon of Athens (2018)

Keep your meetings short

Men of few words are the best men.
- Henry V
, Act 3 Scene 2

Just because you can have a two-hour Zoom conference, doesn't mean that you should. Have an agenda, appoint a chairperson, and, crucially, take a look in the mirror before you turn on that webcam.

Make peace with your new colleagues

Beatrice: I wonder that you will still be talking, Signor Benedick, nobody marks you.
Benedick: What, my dear Lady Disdain, are you yet living?
Beatrice: Is it possible that disdain should die when she has such meet food to feed is as Signor Benedick?
- Much Ado About Nothing, Act 1 Scene 1

Michelle Terry and Edward Bennett as Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing (2014)

Working from home might seem like a chance to avoid the usual office politics and your lunch mysteriously vanishing from the shared fridge, but working alongside your partner or housemates can be as bad, or worse. While the playful banter between Beatrice and Benedick was a prelude to their romance, tempers are bound to flair in close quarters. Share a tea break together, and try to keep the peace as best you can.

Don't forget the pets

I think Crab, my dog, be the sourest-natured dog that lives. My mother weeping, my father wailing, my sister crying, our maid howling, our cat wringing her hands, and all our house in a great perplexity, yet did not this cruel-hearted cur shed one tear.
- The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 2 Scene 3

If you find yourself sharing your work space with a grumpy cat or a hyperactive dog, it can be even harder to concentrate than usual. Try to keep them fed, exercised and entertained, and perhaps your "cruel-hearted cur" will take pity on you and let you get that crucial email sent off.

Note: this may also work for children...

Man in a suit jacket looking tired in front of a scruffy-looking dog
Roger Morlidge and Mossup as Launce and Crabbe the dog in The Two Gentlemen of Verona (2014)
Photo by Simon Annand © RSC Browse and license our images

Control your appetites

But I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit. 
- Twelfth Night, Act 1 Scene 3

Thou art so fat-witted with drinking of old sack and unbuttoning thee after supper and sleeping upon benches in the afternoon, that thou hast forgotten to demand that truly which thou wouldst truly know.
- Henry IV Part I
, Act 1 Scene 2

You've probably never been closer to the biscuit tin whilst working than you are right now, but this isn't the time to fall into bad habits. Try to keep fruit at hand for snacks, take a proper break for lunch and definitely save the cocktails for after your shift.

More than anything, stay positive

The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.
- All's Well that Ends Well,
Act 4 Scene 3

Things aren't great at the moment, but life is made of ups and down. Remember:

There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.
- Hamlet,
Act 2 Scene 2

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