In some ways the world has stood very still over the last year, in other ways it has moved forward so fast we can hardly keep up. Things that we have taken for granted over many years, as the way the world works, have been turned on their head.

The old rule book was ripped up and our lives were turned upside down as we were instructed to lockdown in order to keep ourselves and others safe. We’ve found our lives regulated by a new system of rules; who we can see, where we can go, how much distance we need to keep from people and the list goes on.

What’s been less obvious, however, but to my mind more interesting, is all the rule breaking that has been quietly going on. And by rule breaking I don’t mean those who’ve put themselves at risk of catching Covid-19 because of their actions, but those everyday rules and boundaries we set for ourselves about what we should and shouldn’t do and how we should and shouldn’t behave. These are unobserved rules that are being broken.

This came sharply into focus for me this week when I went for an outdoor swim at my local gym, and a lady stepped out of her car, in a very relaxed fashion, wearing a towelling bathrobe and flip flops. She proceeded to walk across the car park, past the tennis courts and down to the pool, as if this were all completely normal.

A year ago, if someone had said to me this would be considered normal behaviour, I’d have laughed a little nervously and quickly changed the subject. What a difference a year makes. Today I look at this rule breaking and view it as a bold and sensible solution to the current situation.

Whilst the bathrobe and flip flops approach to swimming is likely a temporary answer to current lockdown restrictions. When there are no proper changing facilities or hot showers at the poolside you aren’t going to want to wrestle back into your everyday clothes afterwards – the bathrobe solves this problem. Likewise, dressing for work from the waist up is undoubtedly here to stay, not least because it is all that is visible on a video call, but also because it significantly reduces the volume of washing and ironing! Both are logical solutions to the current challenges but also rip up the convention rule book.

This started me thinking … In what areas of my freelance work do I limit myself with conventional norms and rules? And importantly in what ways might these now be holding me back?

I’ve spent this week asking myself where I hold onto my own rule book on how things should be done, or where I am resistant to making changes. Where are the new efficiencies, I can offer my clients?

What is my freelancing equivalent of dressing from the waist up? I’m looking for those parts of my work where I can offer innovative client-focussed solutions that solve the problems my clients have now – not the ones they had last year.

Further, what are the bold and unconventional solutions that I can offer my clients? How do I channel the bathrobe lady’s thinking? What are the solutions that break the social rules and conventions but once you see them you just know they makes sense and there’s no looking back.

As my work moves forward out of lockdown and into this new normal, the one thing I know for certain is that I need to rip up the old rule book and write my own.