Last year saw most households and small businesses have established routines massively disrupted.
Parents suddenly had to upskill themselves in-home tuition and online tutoring. Small businesses had to pivot their offering to a virtual market.
While we were learning new skills, we may have lost traction in our routines. I think of routines of shopping, commuting, and even exercising. Yet, routines can be our friends, not our enemies.
The key appears to be creating routines that are flexible, relevant, and healthy.
Good routines can provide structure to your day, and they also can save lives and sanity. Witness the story of the 33 trapped miners in Chile who waited for months underground before they could be rescued.
Older and experienced leaders organized work assignments for the men since the miners needed to contribute to their own rescue by clearing away 3-4,000 tons of rock as the escape hatch was dug.
The leaders also brought order and discipline to the men’s lives by insisting that everyone wait to eat until food for all could make its way down small boreholes.
One leader created a makeshift chapel for the men and organized a buddy system.
Here are 6 broad suggestions from blogger Belle Beth Cooper:
A good breakfast can still be fast and easy.
This is a great suggestion from Lifehacker which can help you get your morning routine going. If you struggle to eat breakfast every day because it’s too much effort or takes too long, this one’s for you.
Preparing your breakfast the night before by getting out the dishes you’ll need or cutting up fruit pieces can save you time the next morning. You might want to opt for a simple meal like cereal to save time and effort as well.
Do creative work for when you’re tired.
Our bodies have built-in clocks that determine the best times for us to eat, sleep, exercise and work. You might not have the flexibility to do everything at the right time for you, but try listening to your body clock as much as you can.
If you do better creative work at night, for instance, try to put creative tasks off during the day and schedule more admin or analytical tasks for your mornings.
An alarm to wake you up might not be enough – have one to tell you to go to sleep
Most of us have alarms to wake us up in the mornings but we all-too-easily stay up later than we plan to. Having an alarm to remind us when it’s bedtime can be a great help in sticking to a regular routine for sleep.
In Eric Barker’s experiments with sleep, he found that setting an alarm to tell him when to go to bed was even more effective than one to get him up in the mornings.
Switch yourself off at night to sleep better – the “zero notifications” method
A nightly wind-down routine is most helpful to good, regular sleep. That includes the discipline of not responding to notifications. You might want to try a walk, like Joel, or some quiet reading time. Other great wind-down activites include a time of quietness, drinking tea, stretching and taking a bath.
Develop a morning routine that you keep on weekends too
We all like to sleep in and “catch up” over weekends, but don’t do this to the detriment of starting the week in a productive, rested way. This may mean extending your weekly routine into your weekend and vice versa.
Track your habits to understand yourself better.
Some of my routines include writing, reading and exercising with monthly targets in mind. This tracks back into weekly/daily goals and achieving these gives a super sense of achievement. Harness technology to help you. My fitness tracker keeps me honest and focussed on my 90km/month goal. (Last two examples are from my own routines)