Sudden change is hard to accept, especially when it’s enforced and you’re asked to conform with immediate effect.
The good news is that humans are incredible adaptable.
Focusing on smaller parts of the puzzle allows you to take back some elements of control during what can feel like a powerless situation. Focus on the things you can control and try to ignore the things you can’t. One thing you can control, whatever the situation, is your own routine. Here are a few tips to help.
If you’re working from home…
As much as possible, keep to a routine within your working hours. Start and finish at the same time as you would normally, be strict about lunch breaks and give yourself permission to stop and make a cup of tea once in a while.
Resist the temptation to stay in your pyjamas all day. That blurs the line between day and night and work and relaxation. We’re not saying you need to sit in your living room wearing your uniform, but have a wardrobe that makes a distinction between work and play. This will keep the elements of your life separate despite being in the same environment.
Temporary desks have sprung up in living rooms and dining rooms across the country, but it’s important to take steps to separate out the elements of your routine so they don’t blur into one. Not feeling able to switch off can lead to fatigue and overload, as well as reducing your productivity. Quickly tidy your work space when you’ve finished for the day, so it doesn’t spill into your relaxed time.
Be kind to yourself when it comes to productivity. These are unprecedented times we find ourselves in and we’re all just doing our best to cope. If one day is a bit less focused than usual, that’s okay.
If you struggle with routine…
Whether you’re working or not, when it comes to routine, one of the best things you can do is to break your day into bite-size blocks and try to stick to them.
Split your week into days and your days into hours or time slots that work for you. Have attainable targets for each time slot and reward yourself accordingly. If you’ve spent an hour on a conference call, go and sit outside in the sun for five minutes. Turned bare cupboards into a really delicious meal that makes one tin of beans go further than it was ever thought possible? Sit and read your magazine for a while, you’ve earned it. Cleaned the kitchen for 45 minutes and want to play CandyCrush for five minutes? Hey, we’re not here to judge.
Get up at the same time each day. Start the morning with 30 minutes of exercise if you can or go for a lunchtime walk every other day. And try to go to bed at the same time as well. Then your brain can get into its natural rhythms and properly unwind.
If you’re bored…
Routine can help with boredom, so try not to do “everything” in one day and leave emptier days in the week with nothing planned.
There has never been more content out on the internet to entertain you. There are free audio books to download, music gigs to watch, VR museums to explore, zoo animals to watch via live webcams, virtual pub quizzes to host, exercise videos to work out along with and all the box sets you could ever want to watch.
Any activity where the hand is active is a great way for your mind to process thoughts, information and the day’s events, which is especially important at the moment when there’s so much going on. Activities like jigsaws puzzles, baking, crochet, drawing, knitting or painting are all great for creating a sense of calm and peace that is so vital during such stressful times.
If you’re feeling sluggish…
It’s important to work exercise into your routine. Not only is this good for your physical health (because we know we’re definitely eating more biscuits than usual, and we can’t be alone) but it’s also great for your mental health too. Get those endorphins working for you.
Get out and about to enjoy nature. As well as being a welcome change of scenery, the fresh air is extremely good for you. Try and be more mindful of environment you’re in, take time to listen to and look at what’s around you. Can you hear birds? What can you smell? What clouds are in the sky? Are there flowers or plants to see? Take it all in.
If you can’t get out and about, work exercise into your working day. In between video calls with colleagues, march up and down on the spot or do a few laps of the stairs. Waiting for the kettle to boil? Do ten star jumps on the spot.