“Seek community and routine.” This is the calm counsel I got during some challenging times after I moved, alone, to my current stomping grounds – Vancouver, Canada. That advice came from a military member. He was expected to move as seamlessly as possible every few years into a new physical and cultural context. Each move came with a new role, new home, and demands for energy and consistency on tap. He crisscrossed America with his wife, children, cat, and canine in the service of his country more than a dozen times, and counting in his career. As a family, they learned that seeking community and taking solace in familiar routines, was key.
Being less disciplined than my colleague, I’m currently coming up short on community and lagging a bit on the implementation of routine. But, I do have a plan and I’ll share some of the tips.
Community, I’ll tackle soon. We all fell out due to COVID. That’s not the only villain in my community stage. The world beyond my desk and multiple screens can easily be kept at a distance. It’s not just due to remote work. As a home-office-based writer, living solo and aging, I’m feeling a lot less oomph for moving around in social settings after all the restrictions.
The glory days of the introvert lifestyle ‘winning’ the pandemic’s prolonged confinement are over. Some of us are leaping toward the social light and others are clinging to the darker corners. Our social skills and connectivity took a hit and it can be a struggle to join in again.
Changes in my daily life, I can get behind.
Your daily pattern needn’t be humdrum and boring. There’s that fancy phrase, ‘automaticity’ that covers the easy-to-repeat stuff that keeps us on track. It can also free our minds to do more creative things, perhaps even find time for other people!
It does seem extra important to get that good groove laid down before that light we shone on our best intentions at the New Year dims, right?
How Daily Routines Can Boost Productivity and Bolster Mood
So, if you are still motivated, you are likely chipping away at those goals you set! The way to achieve these aims, we all know by now, is to create small routines. Our routines get built by laying down daily habits that we perform mostly without even thinking about them. Hence, automaticity.
The actions we make routine on the way to the groove that is habit can help us feel like we are getting things done. The automaticity of it all, makes it feel effortless – like you are not even working at it. Does this mean you have to feel programmed and therefore robotic?
Tips on Habits that Will Help with Mood and Performance
Perhaps you will find comfort as well as progress in these ‘good for you’ routines.
Hydrate – Why not start your day with a couple of cups of filtered lemon water? Enjoy it cold or warm depending on the time of the year. I prefer room temp or even find warm with lemon squeezed in, or even the latest boost to my aging innards – a spoonful of vinegar in one tall glass of water. Starting off your day hydrated will boost your energy and make it more likely you get to your to-do list.
Review Your Schedule – Begin your day, with a glance at your to-do list to get an overview of what you need to do during your day. For many of us, a to-do list is a great guide for how we will spend our days.
Here’s the Pro-Tip: Prioritize the items according to your needs. Decide what are the most important things you must get done. Focus on that.
Some people like to do their to-do list at the end of the previous day. I’m in that camp. I got in the habit in school as I would even lay out my clothes the night before, eliminating decision stress, ensuring I had all I needed ready, and granting me that ‘last minute’ in case I needed it!
Create a Morning Routine – A great deal of weight has been given lately to this part of our day. The earlier start is always an advantage and if you can step into it well with your self-care routine – even better. For some, that means showering, making your bed, getting dressed, eat breakfast. People now also prioritize time to meditate, do some yoga, or journal in the morning as part of their routine.
General consensus is ‘stay off your phone or other devices’. Leaving your mind clear of the clutter that awaits you. You know…other people’s agendas for you, the influence of the ubiquitous social media influencers, and the news of the world in this precious moment between the day ahead and your restorative private time. Take time to find that right morning routine.
Fuel Up on Good Food – Pay attention to your nutrition. Put energy into becoming more productive – eat right. Your diet is more important than whether you walk or bike for exercise. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet, they say. Get a blood test to determine your vitamin and hormone levels and eat according to your needs by prepping your food in advance to make it easy to stick to a plan each day.
Preparedness is an ingredient in the success formula. Food is the fuel you want for clear thinking and stamina to meet your day.
Develop a Positive Mindset – When you have a positive outlook or mindset, it tends to strengthen your motivation. Motivation usually comes after you take action, unlike those times you believe that once you are moved to take action you will. Take it from a writer, even in my work, the flow shows up once you start the work!
Focus on the feelings you experience after you take a specific action. That little hit of success is an experience that encourages you to be more positive because you feel more productive and helpful. Find ways to look at the positive aspects of your life.
Toast Your Triumphs – Celebrate! When you are successful and accomplish something, find a way to celebrate, no matter how small. You can draw on the experience to motivate you to take more action. Believe me, your subconscious is watching and listening and who doesn’t like a party dedicated to all those parts of ourselves, eh? The keener, the planner, the doubter – all of ourselves.
Divide Your Workday – Divide and conquer. You can’t work all the time. Super important if you work for yourself and even more so if your workplace is mostly, at home. The work never ends and often it is always in sight, too.
Set specific hours for your workday. Stick to these hours at least 80 percent of the time. Keep in mind that remaining flexible is important. Sometimes working hard is what is needed, but it’s not required every. single. day. eh?
Build Time in for Breaks. Believe it or not, I use housework that others might find humdrum AS my breaks. I write and then run down the hall to the laundry so my brain has a break from the subject matter and the monitors and the sitting. It gives it a chance to process and catch up. In the meantime, my walk or my chores, or an errand I run gets practical things done and I return fresh and ready to continue
Take heart. Each time you add a routine to your day that can be repeated regularly and easily, you are beginning to create a habit.
Habits are appealing to our minds and are difficult to stop. It gets a bit complex because our routines become part of a domino-like setup. Some of the pieces incorporate a trigger. There’s often a rewarding response. We might call it being conditioned and while that sounds a bit suspect, the truth is you can harness the power for good. For your own good, set up your routines. Get them started with some planning and don’t forget the rewards.
As a writer, I am very motivated by deadlines, no matter what is happening in my life or calendar. For the rest – I will refine my daily approach to be better with some of the same tips I shared with you. As for the advice on community – something to sustain the spirit and share support, and joy – I’ll have to apply some of those tips to make being out and about with people and having a purpose, feel routinely natural.