A few weeks ago, you had your routine down. You could sail through your day on autopilot, with hardly a thought as to how to fill your time or remain productive. With Auckland remaining at COVID-19 Alert Level 4, and the rest of New Zealand at Alert Level 3, a lot of our routines have come to a screeching halt. Days can feel like a giant blur, all merging into one. If you relate, please know that you’re not alone. Everyone is adjusting, so be gentle and patient with yourself.
It’s important to establish a “new (temporary) normal”. You don’t need to plan every minute of your day, but implementing some structure into our days can go a long way in helping us maintain our health, our productivity, and our social and emotional well-being. So, let’s look at some simple things we can do to get back to your daily rhythm. Keep life feeling structured, fulfilling and somewhat normal.
1. Morning Routine
Though, it can be tempting to roll out of bed at the last possible moment and log in to work before you’re fully awake. Resist this temptation! A morning routine helps you to wake up, feel refreshed, and get into the mindset to work. Just as you would when you get ready for work, pre-set your alarm, shower, get dressed, and make that coffee! Even if nobody is going to see it, you’ll feel it.
Do what you can to physically separate your working space from your living space, it’s easy to get mixed up in your head when you mix up all the common rooms in the house with your work space. You want to make it feel like you’re going somewhere. As a bonus, try working near a window or in a bright room with enough daylight. Take advantage of the sun, this will help bring positive benefits to your mood and productivity.
3. Set Work Hours
Setting work hours for yourself during this time can help you get more done and alleviate guilt. For example, you won’t feel pulled to clean the house during work hours and you won’t feel pulled to reply to work emails outside of work hours.
4. Get Outside
Exercise increases serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. Without that, those lower dopamine and serotonin levels make it much easier to get that glum feeling, or feel unmotivated. Get outside for a daily walk or run, even 30 minutes can be extremely beneficial for both your physical and mental health.
5. Stay Connected
Keeping in touch with our friends and family is so important in such challenging times. Thankfully we live in a digital age, meaning we can still stay socially connected even though we’re not physically close to one another right now. Using Zoom, or FaceTime or even a good old fashioned phone call, aim to have at least one personal conversation a day.
6. Keep it Varied
Every day our lives vary, being quarantined obviously makes it harder, but you can still have variation at home. Why not learn something new, take up a hobby, or self-develop your skills. Not only will it stimulate your mind by keeping you occupied from the realities of the world, but it’s such a great achievement for yourself.
7. Give Yourself a Break
You may be tempted to work too much. It’s surprisingly easy to buckle down and plow through the day, after all you’re at home, that in itself feels like a break of sorts. Remember to take breaks, if you want to preserve your sanity and be more focused on your work. Real breaks, regular breaks, away from your computer breaks.
And lastly, none of this is normal. We are, as a global community, experiencing something very out of our control. Remember, we’re all in this together - a pandemic is not a productivity contest. You’re doing great!