The comfort of routine during a pandemic

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

I’ve always been drawn to schedules, time and productivity, even before a global pandemic brought the world to its current state of uncertainty.

But if these last 5 months of social distancing have taught me anything, it’s that routines are the things that will keep us going.

While the first couple of weeks were a sort of heady break from strict schedules, it very quickly turned into a bit of stress without knowing which way was up or down.

For me, especially, this was more than a bit unsettling because I thrive on routines, calm and schedules to keep my engine running.

Weekdays were dedicated to getting people out the door by 9 AM so that I could devote the first half of the day to working uninterrupted and wind it all up by 4 PM when the troops would come walking back in through the door.

To be fair, my troops (a teen daughter and a husband) are pretty self-sufficient, but 9 AM to 4 PM was the deliberate pocket of quiet in the day that I missed having to myself.

When it became apparent that none of this was really going to change any time soon, I decided to do something about it: tweak my routine to embrace the new situation.

Since this also meant being unable to step outdoors, my exercise routine needed to change.

So, I went over my original routine and threw out what didn’t matter anymore and added in what made sense.

Here’s how I did it

Identified what matters the most

I made a list of what I wanted to focus on in various categories: Health, Home, Work, Family, Self care.

Modified my goals

While I’ve always set goals for myself, I eased up on them and ensured I was actually enjoying the process rather than the outcome.

Pared down the routine to a simple schedule

Then I went about setting simple time blocks for each category. I added in everything that I thought was relevant and removed what didn’t anymore.

Modified the routine to the current situation

While working from home was always my jam, it had become slightly more challenging with everyone working from home. So I worked out a schedule based on my daughter’s schooling routine and fit that around things like making breakfast and my workouts.

Let go of perfection

This one is a constant learning curve and I am slowly getting there.

Being a Type A person has made it more difficult for me to learn to just get it done instead of doing it to perfection.

But a pandemic has taught me that perfection doesn’t matter; showing up and doing it, however badly, does.

Made time for self care

While I usually do this, I took extra care to include this in the new routine. It can be very easy to go from day to day without knowing the difference between weekdays and weekends. Setting conscious intentions to take a break and unwind every day helped enormously. I made time to read again, which has made a massive difference to my mental well-being.

Reduced time on social media

Over and over again, this appears to be the one thing that has an extreme effect on my mental health. I learnt to consciously take a step back and fill my social media time with other pursuits.

I still use social media (for my business and to interact with a few friends), but for very limited time blocks and specific times of the day.

Give yourself grace

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t stick to a routine.

The whole idea of a routine is that it helps us make sense of the day to day, without worrying too much about the distant future.

And if anyone needs that right now, it’s all of us, in the middle of a global pandemic

  • Day 14 of Daily writing

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