We’ve all been forced into a new routine through this crazy quarantine “unprecedented/uncertain” time. With gyms closed and a non-existent commute to work, your routine may have completely disintegrated.
But you need a routine now more than ever.
I’ve learned over the past four years that working from home can be a great opportunity to achieve career and personal goals you can be proud of… but depression and snacking sneak up on you and ruin any progress.
After three weeks of quarantine (with many more on the horizon), now is the time to build a routine you’ll use for years to come.
I’ll preface this with… I have no children, but I was homeschooled when I was a kid, and structure helps.
Pretend You’re Going to Work…
Because you are. If you weren’t at work before 8:30am, why are you signing on before that now?? Just because your computer is in the same room as you, doesn’t mean it needs to be running. Go make yourself a real breakfast, froth the milk in your coffee, read a book, go for a run, hug your dog…. Anything except work before you need to.
This goes the other way, too… if you usually sign off by 5:30 or 6, just do that now. Peace out, coworkers!
However, if you have kids around and you’re tag-teaming with a working spouse, you may need different hours than when your childcare is in place. Maybe you start work at 6 and take a break at 9. Whatever it is, make a schedule. Tell your boss. Rework your conference calls when possible. Buy noise cancelling headphones. And work.
Now that you’re saving a bunch of time commuting (I used to commute two hours each way, so WFH was literally life-changing in the best way), start building the morning routine of your dreams.
This is still a work in progress for me. Basically, it changes depending on which productivity book I’m reading that week. I’ve tried waking up at 5, 4:30, 7, and I learned I can’t wake up before 5:30 consistently and be a functioning human.
My morning looks like this:
6:30am- Bible study/prayer
7-8am- Breakfast, Wake up Lucie, read a book/watch a class
I’ve kept this up for a few weeks now, and I’m really enjoying it. Yoga wakes me up and focuses me, and journaling gets me ready to spend the rest of the day writing.
During the summer, I run early in the morning, but I’ve moved that to the afternoon because it’s too cold in the morning right now… I’m sick of running in below-freezing temps.
Ultimately, you need to find what works best for you. You might need to go to bed later and wake up later, etc.
Most productivity experts (I’ve read a lot of them) recommend exercise in the morning with journaling. I know some people hate exercising in the morning, and use it as the energy release after a work day.
I’ve found this: I can only control the first few hours of my day. And this is what I want them to look like.
Breaks Throughout the Day
When you suddenly transition to WFH, your manager might be leading from a place of fear: if you don’t reply to this message instantly, then you must not be working.
Don’t be intimidated by bad leaders. I’ve heard that companies needed to institute 5-minute breaks every hour to let people go to the bathroom.
You’re a human adult. You don’t need this type of structure to function. Take breaks throughout the day — you’ll be more productive in the long run.
As far as bad management goes: start with overcommunication and clear expectations. If they push back when you’re not at your desk, remind them that you have, in fact, completed all the work they requested.
You’ll all be better communicators by the end of this.
I don’t really have an evening routine, except for going to bed before 11pm. But this is something I want to get better at.
I’ve read articles about making a short bullet-point list of what you accomplished that day and what you plan to accomplish the next day. I’ve tried this, and it helped… so I might try it again. I also want to read more in the evening… For the most part I just cook dinner and play with the dog.
Especially now when we can’t go anywhere. Before, we would go out to eat and have meetings in the evenings, go to Bible study, have friends over… we’ll be back to that eventually.
Routine Brings Normalcy
The past few weeks have taught us that we literally have no idea what could happen each day. But if you start with a little bit of a routine, you at least know what to expect in the next hour. That might help your brain to calm down.
Let’s build some things into our lives that make them better for the future.