This year, more than ever, we’ve seen our comfortable daily lives change immeasurably. At this point, we can all relate to that untethered feeling that comes with periods of huge change — because this year has been the unrivalled queen of change.
There are plenty of reasons your routine might be out of whack right now, like working from home for an extended period when it was a rarity prior to this year. There are also reduced work hours for some, or job loss altogether for others. This all impacts your daily life in ways that add up to one big upheaval, and it can also be pretty hard to maintain any semblance of routine during these times. We get it. In fact, we’re right there with you.
But we’re about to change all that. Routines (even loose ones) can help to give you a reason to get up in the morning with a sense of pride and purpose, and there are a few things you can do today that we’re confident will help you build resilience and help you navigate your day-to-day.
Set an alarm and make it un-snoozable
Snoozing your morning alarm may feel like a luxurious benefit of working from home. But it can also leave you feeling more sluggish when you do finally get out of bed, than if you’d just hauled yourself out from under the covers when the first alarm went off. One way to combat snoozing your alarm is by putting it out of arm’s reach, so you have to get up when it goes off in the morning.
Of course, you should prioritise sleep. But it’s also important to respect the daylight hours by going to bed at a reasonable time and forcing yourself out of bed once your seven to nine hours is up (even better if you keep the same bedtime and wake up at the same time every day). Bonus tip: jump straight into the shower and get dressed to force yourself out of sleep mode.
It’s time to start that side hustle
If you’ve recently found yourself without a full-time job and are looking down the barrel of a long and taxing job hunt, it might be time to focus your energy elsewhere. The benefit of having more free time is that you can also invest that time in starting the project you’ve been putting off forever and build it into your new routine.
You’ve wanted to set up an Etsy store selling your chic DIYs? Now’s the time to do it. Want to start a small business but never had the time? Well, now you do have time to make a little bit of extra coin with your passion project. You could even start monetising your unique skills on a platform like Skillshare or provide services on Airtasker. Just be sure to block out time every day to chip away at your goals, so it becomes as ingrained in your daily routine as your former 9-5 was.
Write down your to-do list the night before
Having your to-do list already mapped out when you wake up in the morning will help you find a sense of purpose and structure from the moment you get out of bed. List everything like the time your alarm is set to go off, job applications if you need to, and set aside some me-time for exercising, reading a book, and connecting with a friend.
It’s important to make the list actionable, but also achievable. If you’re a shift worker with a constantly-changing schedule, for example, adapt your list to suit that and cut yourself some slack for running on different hours. We all know how satisfying it is to cross something off your to-do list, so why not add simple and achievable tasks like making the bed or walking up to your local cafe to grab a coffee, and relish the joy of ticking off a task early in the day. And remember, not every task will get done in the day and there’s no shame in rolling the undone tasks over to tomorrow’s list.
Create a long-term to-do list, too
It’s a good idea to start a second to-do list with long term goals that you can work towards through small, daily, actionable tasks. This one should be placed somewhere you can see it every single day (on the fridge, for example) to help you focus on the bigger picture and remind you to work it into your routine.
Set boundaries (and stick to them)
It’s easy to think that your newfound free time should be filled with more social outings, more work, and generally just more everything. You’ve got the time, right? But taking a step back to honour the hour you’ve set aside to exercise, respecting knock-off time, or packing up your workstation at the end of every day will help you to build a solid, healthy routine.
Do a little bit of exercise, ideally outdoors
Without the daily commute and walking to and from the break room for a cuppa throughout the day, a lot of the regular incidental exercise your body is used to has disappeared. Setting aside time to exercise — and ideally doing it outside — could be a hugely beneficial part of your new routine. Queensland Health recommends that some exercise is better than none, so even working in a walk around your neighbourhood, or doing some light yoga or stretching, is a good place to start.
Eat your meals at regular times
It’s easy to let time get away from you and forget to eat at normal times when you feel like you have no sense of routine. But making it a priority to sit down for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is important. Not only so you’re forced to take a moment out for yourself, but it’ll probably help regulate your body clock and keep you fueled throughout the whole day. Eating regular meals also has the handy benefits of regulating mood and helping you avoid mindless snacking on unhealthy foods throughout the day.
Cut yourself some slack
This year has been challenging enough without berating yourself for not ticking off every single item on your list for the day. As you build up your routine, it’s important to recognise that some days will be easier than others, and some days will be more productive than others. Consider this your permission to ease up on yourself.Image: Riley Turner Productions