Fix Your Routine for Less Stress and More Productivity

Subtitled “I Am Stressed, So I Am Re-Assessing My Routine”. This is will be an article-in-progress. Please check back from time to time :)

May 24, 2020 - Added Part 2: Adjusting My Routine

Part 1: The Problem

I have been getting anxious with the fact that I have not been able to maximize the time I have gained by working from home. While I should not be overly-concerned, I still feel that I should make the most of this opportunity by doing something that refreshes my mind. I have instead spent it on binge-watching and reading through news articles and browsing for bags and other things that would maybe help me ‘do’ things.

My day is typically grouped into these blocks: personal time, work time and rest. I transition into the next block by taking breaks. When I was commuting to work this has pretty much been effective in keeping me somewhat productive because changing locations allows me to focus better by limiting my access to possible ‘distractions’. The work from home situation has sort of blurred the lines a bit and I find that the activities that are usually done within those blocks occasionally find their way into the other blocks and the time that these usually start shift as well by about an hour or two. This has definitely affected my focus and in turn affected the amount of things I get done, which naturally makes me stressed.

There is also the additional desire to be able to do a lot more personal projects. My personal time is already pretty packed with chores, socials and activities to decompress and trying to squeeze in personal projects actually is difficult. I tend to sacrifice other activities in the process (like cleaning)…

Much like how I have written this part so far, I believe that my days have not had enough structure to them, and not adapting to the current situation has made it worse and has made me anxious in addition to all the other uncertainties we are facing in this crisis. That’s unacceptable.

So I have resolved to fix this (again).

Part 2: Adjusting My Routine

As I mentioned before, I felt that I needed to review and make adjustments to my routines, with the goal of:

  • making adjustments to the times I do them in light of my work from home schedule
  • find or make space for the things I would like to be able to do and achieve a state of ‘flow’
  • include activities that would be nourishing for me and help keep a good work/life balance

My day typically breaks down like this:

  • my mornings, which usually include activities like chores and planning my day (up to 7 hours) and is practically my personal time
  • early afternoons which include lunch and preparing for work
  • work hours (9 hours)
  • sleep (6-8 hours)

Before the pandemic I had to include about two hours of commute here, which takes time from either my afternoons and sleep time.

Currently I usually do all personal projects in the morning and sometimes spills over in the afternoon. When I get engrossed it usually eats off time for my chores and lunch. I would usually have a quick lunch and eat it while I work on them. Personal projects include photography, illustration and writing work. These require focus for me so I would often turn the TV off and just listen to music that don’t have lyrics to them. This in turn takes away time for me to do other things I like to do such as catching up to the news and my late night talk shows, learning Japanese and watching TV.

I think this is where my problem stems from. I feel that it is not enough time and that I am forced to sneak in creative time in between chores. Since I am just restarting my progress has been (to my mind) slow and I feel I need more time. At the moment 2-3 hours is not enough. I should be a little easy on myself here, at least for now.

Well what about the weekends? Can’t you just do it all during those days?

That’s a great question (self), and I have considered adjusting schedules and be able dump it all on there, but I would actually like to have one of those days just turned-off for me so I could just really decompress. Creative projects while providing me with my dopamine hit can still be exhausting; the good kind but still exhausting. Now that leaves me with that one day, where I have gained nine hours. I will most probably leave that day to labor-intensive tasks like video shoots or editing, but I will definitely make use of that.

Making Space for Them in My Day

Now that I have in a way ‘made peace’ with my constraints, I took a look at my existing routines to see if any of them would need to be adjusted or totally taken out.

  • tidy up
  • sweep the floor
  • make and have lunch
  • wash the dishes
  • prepare for work (bathe and dress up)

The first two are essential to me as they are actually meditative moments of the morning for me. I do my best not to skip them as they also make my environment nice to work in. As for the remaining ones I would still need to do them, but I could create some time savings by doing meal prepping, so I could just have lunch while I’m doing my projects. This would then be less disruptive to my flow as it would just take a few minutes. I could then just include washing the dishes as part of my work preparation.

Let’s See Where This Takes Me

I think I have an outline as to how I’m going to do this, so the next step is to actually do it and see where it takes me.

Photo by Nikko Macaspac on Unsplash