Old Goals, New Routine

Last week felt peaceful. I want to say it was a good week, but I feel like good is too neutral of a word. For a while neutral was actually the goal – stress had been high and just being would’ve been nice.

I was thinking about what made last week peaceful, what made it better over the week before, which had been a pretty okay week. The big thing – I finally gave myself permission to just slow down. It’s ok to talk about things you want to do over and over and not feel ready to do them. That’s actually part of making a change.

Often, I have no problem being flexible with my schedule. It’s a color-coordinated plan where things have their place, but I can also see gaps. Honestly, the past year or two, that also means that there are times that those personal things hit the backburner. I’m sure some of you know what I’m talking about, the weird balance of want and need. And, like always, balance doesn’t mean 50/50.

I had thought that I had found some helpful things this spring – and they were good for that time, but this summer, they just weren’t working and a routine change became clear.

So I’m trying something new and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I’m letting some work have more flexibility and laying out longer deadlines because working from home IS work IS the new normal. Resisting adaption will learn to burn out, so I’ve been working to create a different kind of separation of work and home life balance.

I sit down on Sunday’s and plan out my week. It only takes an hour or two – and sometimes it happens throughout the day in pieces. Ultimately, I recommend giving yourself some time to look ahead. Even 10 minutes to just glance at a calendar and see what the week looks like can get you thinking ahead with a visual and that may help lessen the overwhelm of keeping everything in your head.

Last week, I gave myself some time to think about what I want my routine to look like. I thought about the things that were important for me to feel like I am accomplishing things professionally, but also having time to reset. For me, my routine needs to be sustainable for at least the rest of 2020, so I’m thinking about the next four months.

I like structure. I know, shocker. I like having an idea about meal times and my workouts so I can plan other things, however, both of these things have been too flexible for me this year.

So the first thing I decided – I need a set lunch time for the work week because time to step away and eat and be present is something I want to be better at.

For lunch to be successful, this also means I need a set grocery shopping day with a list of ideas of snacks and meals for the week. Maybe not a deep dive of meal prepping, but having access to things I like that are quick-ish so I don’t open every door in the kitchen searching for something. I feel comfortable with shopping on Tuesday’s or Wednesday’s and there’s some flexibility to accomplish this. That’s the second thing that went on my list of needs.

Thinking about my post-work day, setting boundaries and creating structure means actually turning off my computer and leaving my office as well as having a plan for who’s cooking dinner and who has homework. The answer – we both have homework and we can alternate dinners based on client training so that we distribute pressure.

Sprinkled through the workday, a helpful routine includes a morning walk after a few hours of work so I don’t stay stuck behind my computer screen. I started to notice that I’m experiencing tightness in my hips and low back from being seated for long periods of time, and I have the flexibility to get up – so I’m going to use it.

Exercise had been a need for a long time and then somehow became a want – it’s now a need again. I can either do my workout in the afternoon to break up the afternoon slump that can occur or at night when work is completely done depending on the day. Having a weekly activity goal and plan may be helpful, but I also think I will want to outline some specific days at the beginning of the week because I will know my schedule.

Some other wants, that have become needs. Actual down time to read, write and watch movies is a must. It doesn’t need to be hours, but feeling like I have the time to carve out can make the difference. I’ll gladly take 15 minutes and that might be how I start. Some nights I have clients and some nights I don’t, but this is a plan I can make on a weekly basis as homework allows too.

Getting outside has been odd with the pandemic, but walks have been nice. I want to still prioritize early Friday hikes when possible since it’s a day I start work later, but this is something I don’t mind being flexible with.

A new routine also includes reminding myself and others that working from home doesn’t mean I’m having fun behind my computer for hours, even though I love the work I do. Working from home isn’t the same as having alone time, even though I’m often alone in my office. Working from home isn’t the same as having extra down time even though I can be flexible with breaks.

It’s going to take time to get comfortable in this new routine, and that’s ok. Practice makes better.