Until a few weeks ago we all had a regular routine. Weekdays were defined by going to work, doing the school run or exercising at the gym. And our weekends were spent with family or friends, eating out, holidaying or enjoying the great outdoors.
Suddenly a new word came into our vocabulary – Coronavirus. At first no-one really understood the significance. Is it related to Corona beer? How is it different to the flu? Does it only affect those aged over 70?
So many questions…and so many urban myths floating around. As time went on, the reality began to sink in. Our lives were about to change. And not just in the short term.
2020 is destined to go down in the history books as one nobody will forget, and the stories of self-isolation, social distancing and the perils of cruise ships will be forever a topic of conversation.
The new normal
We’re all faced with a very different world when we get up in the morning now.
- Children are being home schooled.
- Our office is now our dining table or a home office if we’re lucky.
- Panic buying has left supermarket shelves bare, with toilet paper non-existent.
- Social distancing means keeping 1.5m from each other.
- Entire sports seasons, concerts and entertainment events all cancelled.
- Weddings limited to five people and funerals to 10.
- Flights grounded and international travel banned.
- Millions out of work with many businesses forced to close their doors.
- Government stimulus packages to help the economy.
Keep calm and carry on
The key to navigating all this for me was to create a new routine. Without routine our lives can descend into chaos. There’s no structure. There’s no distinction between a Tuesday and a Saturday.
So, on Monday to Friday, this is now how my day pans out.
8 am Watch Premier’s daily press conference for latest news and have breakfast
8.30 am Switch laptop on and start work
10.30 am Break time. Do a 20-minute exercise video from YouTube.
11 am Back to work
12.30 pm Lunch
1 pm More work
3 pm Time for a cup of tea and a deep breath. Not long to go now.
4 pm Afternoon walk to get some fresh air
5 pm Tools down. Watch the news.
Which means I leave all the household chores until the weekend, whether that’s DIY, gardening or clearing out paperwork that’s been lurking at the back of a cupboard for a few years. Weekends also allow time for longer exercise, like a walk with my husband.
Simple but effective rules
If you’re someone who’s struggling with being at home all the time, why not set yourself some new rules. Don’t get caught up in working too many hours or worse still, spending all day watching tv. Think differently about how to manage the next few months and how you can turn a difficult situation into one where you thrive.
1. Get up at the same time each day.
Although you may be tempted to ditch the alarm clock and treat yourself to a lie in…every day…it’s not the best route to productivity. I’m not suggesting you should keep 9-5 hours. But help your brain understand that Monday to Friday are still work/school days and leave those luxurious lie ins for the weekend.
Even if you’ve found yourself out of work or work has slowed due to recent events, you can still try to use your time productively. Consider extra training you could do, admin you’ve been putting off, write blogs or post other content on your website etc.
2. Be realistic about what you can achieve.
Think about your surroundings and consider the new distractions around you. Maybe you have children at home, a partner who’s now working from home or you discover your neighbours are very noisy! These are all changes that could disrupt your output, and you’ll need to find a way to adapt to these changes.
But don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel your productivity has reduced. Be realistic about what you can achieve each day, for you and your family. If you need to change your working hours or ask for some “me” time then do it, and don’t feel guilty.
3. Allow yourself breaks.
Just because you find yourself at home every day doesn’t mean it’s a breeze. Think about when you might normally pop out and get a coffee or talk to a colleague and keep doing that. Have a break. Walk away from the computer and give your brain chance to unwind. You didn’t previously work for eight hours straight without a break so why start now.
4. Make time for exercise.
While our movements outside home are restricted, that doesn’t mean it’s an excuse just to sit on the sofa for hours.
Exercise is still allowed, but perhaps you need to be more creative with what you do. There’s no treadmill or Pilates class at the gym so if you’re someone who likes to exercise in a group you might find it hard initially.
Try exercising with your partner or family, set up a Skype or Zoom exercise session with your friends, or try one of the many workout videos online. You’ll be amazed how many there are. While out for a walk this week, I saw a family running in a relay from their house around their block – as one came back the next one left. The new way to exercise together but separately!
5. Eat healthy and stay hydrated.
We all know how tempting it is to open the fridge or cupboard and peek inside to see what delicious treats await. But don’t!
Suppress the urge. Allow yourself treats when you’ve completed a task or finished a period of deep work, not just because you’re bored. The last thing we all want at the end of all this is to be overweight and unfit.
And just as important is to stay hydrated…and not with wine! Drink plenty of water during the day to keep your mind and body energised.
6. Switch off at the end of the day.
And finally when your working day is finished, switch off your laptop, put the phone to one side and make a clear distinction between work time and personal time. Don’t let other people dictate when you should be working. It’s important to recognise that others may be adapting their working hours around children or other daily interruptions but that shouldn’t mean you’re on call 24/7.
Relaxing before you go to bed is far more conducive to a good night’s sleep.
Routine is your friend
Let me know how your daily routine has changed in the current environment, and please share any tips you have for managing all the extra time at home.