The world has changed so much since my last full post, and doing monthly recaps just doesn’t seem feasible right now. Living in quarantine, days blend from one to the next with no real delineation. Weeks crawl by or fly by. With many people around the world in a similar situation, it’s helpful to think of quarantine as a somewhat shared experience, that we are alone together, even though we are all in different situations individually.
I have fallen into a routine that helps pass the days and wanted to share for anyone who is interested. I am grateful for my apartment and to be able to work remotely and recognize that I am very privileged right now to be able to live comfortably and have work to do. I recognize that a routine like this may not be possible for you so if that’s the case, find something that works for you.
Furthermore, a routine might not be for everyone, and under NO circumstances should anyone feel any obligation to be “productive” – the main goal during this time is to make it through to the other side of all this, so with that being said, I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during this unprecedented time!
Waking Up: Set The Stage for the Day
I wake up an hour before I need to be logged on for work. I usually check the news on my phone, which isn’t the best start to the day, but I want to know what’s happened while I’ve been asleep. I then brush my teeth, change into exercise clothes and turn on my computer. Once I have my yoga mat set up, I do a short yoga video online as a way to stretch and center myself for the day. I recommend Yoga with Adriene – I did the 30 Days of Yoga series and now am working my way through what so far has been a more gentle True 30 day series. Most of the videos are around or under 30 minutes, and any of the poses can be modified if you have any mobility issues or are new to yoga (or if you simply can’t do a pose, hi, it me!) Since a ‘normal’ day would have involved a commute with at least 20 minutes of walking, I’m glad I’ve developed this morning routine that gets me stretching and awake before settling into the work day.
From there I take a shower and get breakfast ready as well as a cup of tea – black tea if I’m tired or green if I want that health boost – so I can be logged on for work in time. As a side note, part of my 2020 ‘resolutions’ was to avoid coffee since it made me too jittery, so tea is the way to go.
Morning: Focused Blocks
Whether it’s work or a project, setting time blocks to focus on specific projects with no distractions has been a helpful way to get work done. When there is constant news to consume that could get anyone anxious about what the future has in store, it’s good to try to focus on some other task that can be a distraction and move you forward in the direction that you want to go. I’ve found the mornings to be a good time to get through emails and try to clear out the inbox, and to catch up on admin tasks. I don’t often have calls scheduled for the morning, so I use this time to focus on projects. As an alternative, a morning check-in call might be useful for those who work on a larger team or have very time sensitive tasks for the day ahead.
Snacks are definitely one of the most important features of the day! If I’m hungry before lunch I may have a snack, but I’m usually able to make it through. I try to take a full allotted hour for lunch and make something relatively healthy and quick, but this might end up being a ramen noodle soup packet… don’t @ me. This also might be leftovers from dinner the previous night. Depending on the time, my husband and I might step outside to get a bit of fresh air.
Afternoon: Calls and More Blocks
The afternoon is when I usually have scheduled calls or video meetings. However, if my afternoon is open, I will try to focus on a project other than what I had worked on in the morning, in order to give myself a chance to process what I was working on, and switch it up. Definitely also time for more tea.
End of the Workday
I try to stay true to my normal work schedule. Once the work day is over, I try to disengage from work-related internet tabs, although there may be a stray email that I respond to after ‘work hours’. My husband and I will discuss our respective days, maybe take a walk, and at some point prepare something to eat. We’ll both then call our friends or family, or stream something to watch. I might also light a candle for a calm atmosphere, depending on my mood.
On the weekends, I still do my morning yoga routine, although I don’t set an alarm and let myself wake up when I’m ready. I try not to skip a day of yoga for fear that I’ll never start up again and want to make sure I stay somewhat active. We’ve been saving the household tasks like laundry and cleaning for the weekends, since they take up some time. My husband and I also try to take one longer walk on the weekends, with varying degrees of success. The weekends are also when we might get up early to do some grocery shopping before it gets crowded.
I have scheduled weekly calls with family and also my book club, which has morphed into a weekly short-story-reads club (in addition to the monthly book discussion). Having these weekly video calls gives me something to look forward to throughout the week and provides some structure to the evenings and weekends.
One thing I try to do every week is give myself a manicure. It gives me a sense of normalcy, even though I won’t get to share a fun new color with my colleagues or show off in person, but I enjoy having painted nails anyway, for myself. Especially now since I have so much time, I can easily watch a movie while waiting for them to dry. It may seem frivolous but it’s a nice thing to do, if you like it. Other ideas could be: skincare masks, bath, meditation, coloring or art, and listening to music.
It’s a scary time, an anxiety inducing time, and you can only control so much. I find having a routine and schedule is very helpful for me in a time of uncertainty, when my ‘normal’ routine is on hold. Sometimes, it’s hard to know even what day of the week it is.
Make sure you’re taking care of yourself first – you can’t pour from an empty cup. Stay safe, stay well, and hope to see you all on the other side.