As I’ve sat here staring at a blinking cursor and a blank page for the last 45 minutes, I realise the content of this blog is a little ironic.
Working from home, furloughed, self-isolating, quarantined…whatever category you fall into during the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to keep a routine is extremely difficult. Some of you are usually dragging the kids up every morning at 7.30am; some of you may be already at work by then; while some of you may be getting in your morning workout at that time. But with schools, gyms and most workplaces closed, normality seems like a concept long forgotten. So how do you find the motivation to work from home, home-school the kids, or even simply get out of your pjs? Routine is key. Nobody is saying it has to be a rigid routine with no room for adjustment that plans out every second of the day. But a little bit of structure can go a long way. According to Australian psychology professor Lea Waters, “routines are always helpful for people to see an endpoint”1. So, here is how you can try to operate as usual under these not so usual circumstances:
- Try to stay close to your usual wake-up time. This might be harder if you have small children who don’t understand that 5.30am is not playtime. Give yourself a bit of a lie in, or time to properly wake up in bed before you get up, but sleeping until 1.30pm like a 17 year-old boy will not set you up for the day. One good thing about this lockdown – it’s pretty hard to be late to anything so take your time to get ready for the day ahead.
- Set goals for the day. Viewing the days tasks overall, rather than trying to plan hour by hour will make the tasks feel less forced. You can do this for your work, your household chores, even your self-care plan. Piling pressure on to deadlines will not do your productivity or your mental health any good.
- That one hour of outdoor exercise that the government is allowing? Utilise it. Everyone already knows the benefits of daily exercise for your physical wellbeing, but what about for you mental wellbeing? Whether you chose to walk to the shop for your essentials, do a few laps of the garden while putting your washing out, or maybe a few sit ups while reading your book – getting out into the fresh air, even if just for a little while, will break up ‘sameness’ of the same four walls.
- Make sure you have proper meal breaks. No scoffing a sandwich while typing emails or forgetting to eat at all. Sit down, with a drink and some food, no computer or mobile in front of your face and give yourself a real breather.