How lockdown changed my writing routine?

Prior to mid-march 2020 my writing time consisted of my journey to and from work, my lunch break and in the evenings after dinner. I’d do my best to plan ahead and have my posts scheduled for 7.30am each morning.

But once lockdown started my day to day life changed significantly. I was no longer travelling to and from work each day, my work and home life were blended.

Over the past couple of months I’ve stopped planning ahead, almost never schedule posts in advance and I’m no longer posting in the morning. Instead I write and post on my blog in the evenings as my day is winding down. I’m still posting the same amount but I actually find that it’s a lot easier.

It’s much simpler and less time consuming which means I have more time for everything else that i enjoy.

The importance of a working from home routine

I believe that a new way of working requires a new routine. Up until the past couple of months most people that worked  9-5 office jobs spent most of their days in the office. However, that has now changed we are (pretty much) all working from home.

One of the things that many have overlooked is implementing a routine for working at home. Most of us have a particular routine for days in the office, whether it’s the time we get up in the morning, preparations we do the night before, the time we start working and the time we log off.

You need that sort of routine for working at home too. It doesn’t need to be exactly the same, but you can’t expect to work at home the same way you do in the office if your day has no sense of structure.

Something as simple as starting and ending your day at the same time each day can work wonders.

It may not seem important to implement this and maybe you want home to be more fluid and free. However, it turns out that without some structure to your day you’ll be more likely to work longer hours and you’ll probably be much less productive.

Replicating work life at home

For a lot of people they will have reached a point where they have realised working from home just isn’t the same as being in the office.

Because it isn’t.

You might find yourself less focused, less productive and more distracted, especially if you live with other people.

And so it might be helpful to find ways to replicate how you feel at work in your home.

A few ideas are:

Create a suitable working space – Even if it’s just setting up at the dining table each day. Working from the sofa or your bed isn’t a suitable environment because they’re unlikely to places that you associate with work. Also it’s helpful to create some separation so that when you log off for the day you can move to the sofa to relax or tuck yourself into bed and read.

Get dressed – Not into your work clothes but wear something presentable instead if staying in your pyjamas or wearing a worn out pair of joggers.

Follow your usual routine – Whether that’s starting your day with a cup of tea at your desk, a mid morning snack, going through your inbox for the first 30 minutes of the day, having lunch at 1.30pm, whatever it may be.

Gratitude through challenging times

I start each day with a gratitude practice of listing 10 things I am grateful for.

Things are changing quickly and becoming quite difficult in some ways. It can be difficult to keep up with gratitude through challenging times.

You might find yourself wondering what exactly there is to be grateful for in a time of such great uncertainty. But I find that if you focus on the good bits (no matter how small) there is always something to be grateful for. I have no doubt that before you know it you’ll have reached 10 things pretty easily.

It could be sunny weather, the people you live with, the food in your cupboards, your health, the smoothie you made, being able to communicate with loved ones far away, the fact that you’re able to work from home, the friend that sent you a song as a pick me up, the extra time you have now you’re no longer commuting to work or even your favourite (almost) daily blog.

It might be difficult to think of things when you’re fearful or overwhelmed but know that this the perfect time to put your daily gratitude practice into practice

What we can learn from working from home

Turns out that the 9-5 isn’t as necessary as it once was.

With everything going on in the world meetings are becoming emails or being done by video, travel has come to a halt and working from home may become the non-optional office alternative.

Despite the unfortunate situation that has caused things to change, I can’t help but notice that there is something to learn.

As someone that works in an office less than 50% of what I do requires me to be in the building or to interact with my co-workers.

But I can imagine a time when people used typewriters or even computers that you couldn’t physically take home. Back then, being in your office was necessary to undertake your work.

These days all you need is a laptop and you can use that anywhere.

I’m not championing no longer having an office at all. However, I do think it is worth exploring how often you actually need to be in the company office and the purpose that it serves.

For many it’s the social aspect of going to the kitchen for tea and a catch up with a work pal, it’s meeting people when you’re new to the city, it’s having a space to work for those with limited room at home or those wanting to maintain separation between work and life.

Having an office to go to isn’t necessary for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week but it does come with benefits.

It introduces us to new people, gives us a routine and gives us the opportunity to be part of a culture.

The goal of a routine

If you’re doing the same set of activities on a regularly basis over time it’ll become part of your routine.

It’ll be set into your subconscious to the point where you go from start to finish with little to no thought in between.

That saves you a lot of energy because you’re no longer having to think about what to do next.

Sometimes when we take a break and spend our time differently, the routine that was so ingrained in us falls away.

All of a sudden the thing you once did at the exact same time each day doesn’t get done at all or you end up doing it hours later than you usually would.

Once the break is over the old routine (if implemented well for a long enough period of time) will fall back into place, almost as though it never left, that’s the kind of result I aim for with the routines I implement into my life.

It’s almost like how people say you don’t forget how to ride a bike, except routines can be forgotten if you step away from them for long enough.

Losing a good habit

It’s a gradual thing.

One day you have a solid morning routine and the next you’re running down the street with half your shirt undone hoping you have don’t miss the bus and that you have everything you need.

But it’s not as simple as that, the loss of a habit takes time.

It starts with pressing snooze, then skipping meditation and moves on to not even prepping the night before.

Some routines are hard to keep and sometimes we think that we want to bend away from what we know serves us, just to see what happens.

And sometimes we do it to remember why we implemented the routine in the first place.

If your life is in a rut…

I think sometimes it’s easy for life to become a bit if a rut. Up at 0630, out by 0730, start work at 0830 finish at 1700, get home for 1800.

Then eat, do a few house things like washing the dishes or laundry followed by things like reading, browsing online or watching a bit of telly. Before you know it it’s time to shower and get ready for bed just to do it all over again in the morning.

When this is how your life goes it’s easy to stop thinking about what you really want from life, what makes you happy or what you want to do more of.

So, when you start to notice a rut in your day to day life make a conscious effort to stop and ask yourself those important questions.

You might find that you’re happy and content with your current life and routine but on the other hand you may find that you feel stuck with where you’re at. Perhaps you’re now 3 years deep into a job that was supposed to a temporary thing whilst you figured out what you really wanted and you might realise that you settled.

If that’s the case I come bearing good news, your life can change for the better if you’re willing to do something about it.

Make a good habit easier

Implementing good habits into your life can be difficult and so you might be put off from making changes in your life.

However the simple thing that might not have occurred to you is that you can try to make a good habit easier to keep up with.

It could be as easy as placing a glass of water at your bedside every night and carrying a refillable bottle with you where ever you go.

Downloading a guided meditation that you can listen to offline and setting your morning alarm with a note that reads ‘meditation time’ as a prompt.

Creating an evening ritual of preparing lunch for the next day whilst listening to a podcast at a set time daily.

Think about how you can arrange your day to make the habit you want to start practicing a seamless part of your routine.

Once you do that you’ll notice things get a little easier as long as you’re committed and willing to try.