Sunday, 10 May 2020

How I Set A Routine

Dublin, Ireland
In my last post I mentioned that I may share how I set out my routines in another post. Well...this is that. I just want to say, what I'm sharing is just a method that works for me. You may need to take this and build on it or make up your own to suit you and how you work. If anything, let this me a motivator to do something for you.

 I am a creature of habit. Don't get me wrong, I love adventures and being spontaneous when I feel like it. However, I appreciate the stability and familiarity of having a structure. I also accomplish more when I don't give myself the opportunity to overthink things.

If you know me, or have read this blog long enough, you might be thinking, how can you say you like spontaneity when you use 15,000+ books and endless lists to keep organized. Firstly, I just love stationery, the lists are just something boring and silly I enjoy doing. Secondly, setting a routine doesn't mean you are sentencing yourself to live a life that is minutely planned out. I find routines to be like the lines that divide lanes in the swimming pool. If you follow the lines you'll know where you're going and where you're coming from. But you can swim across the lanes if you want. 

And routines change for many reasons. For me it is usually to balance out time, energy and desires. The first month of a new semester in college is always different to the last month. I may scale back on work hours to allow myself to reintroduce having to use more brain power in classes or need to invest more time and energy into a personal project I'm really excited about. 

Having a routine doesn't mean I can't do anything else, it's simply my way of reassuring myself that if/when I step away from the routine, I can pick up where I left off. And with quarantine, my routine has changed a lot. And it's about to change again because I've finished all my college assignments and have more free time! So I'll share with you how I went about setting my new routine and give some tips about how I make sure I can stick to them! 

1. What do you want to do?
This is really the most important part of the entire process. I personally like to do this is a brainstorming session. Blank piece of paper and writing down whatever comes to mind. Big or small. 

Before quarantine these usually revolved around wanting to stay on top of college work, staying fit, eating healthy, being creative and sleeping better. My first quarantine routine was set on finishing my assignments, staying fit, eating more plant based meals and lying in the sun. This is what my brainstorm looked like for Quarountine 2.0. 

2. Identify The Patterns
This step is easier that it sounds. You're basically looking at what you wrote down and grouping them together. For example, I would like to work on my core, upper body strength, side glutes and climbing specific training. All of which I grouped into fitness. So you can see above my patterns are fitness, creative, active hobbies, identity and relationships/interpersonal. 

3. Set Frequencies
How often do you want to look at each area each week? How often do you want to look at each element in that area? Again using my fitness as an example you can see what I mean. Bear in mind that with something like fitness you should factor in rest days and make sure you have a good mix of exercises to target different parts of the body directly and indirectly. 

Doing the same thing too much will lean to muscle strain and injury. Which you do not want to happen. I injured my knee when I went from absolutely zero running to pushing myself at a 5K each day for three weeks. Do. Not. Do. This!

4) Write It Down
Draw up a simple schedule for each day of the week. You can see from my schedule that Saturdays and Sundays are super chill. I do most of my productive tasks between 10-2 because I have more energy then. 

Between 2-6 anything goes really but I've a few options to been me busy. And after 6 I don't have anything planned. I usually have Zoom Quiz Nights with different friend groups that'll fall within this time frame. I've had to leave early or not go to some in order to get enough sleep. Generally after 2pm I feel like I've accomplished enough to be lazy for the rest of the day so the things I do are based on what I'll enjoy that day. 

Sometimes I find indicating times helpful and at other times I find it puts me under pressure. With all this quarantine time, I chose to allocate time slots so I can be lazier without having to think too much about what I'm going to do next. 

This is where I usually break out the colours and go crazy. But on this occasion I wasn't feeling that tickled about it. I've been getting up at 6am each day, I know it's crazy. But I've been enjoying it so I haven't changed it. 

5) Just show up
That's it. Show up each day. Really show up with intent and do what you can for you.

Now it's easier said than done. And just because you know have a routine equivalent to Steve Jobs' polo and jeans doesn't mean you go on autopilot. You just get to do more without thinking too much about it. And just to share 3 tips so you can keep at it.

Tips for keeping at it.

1) Change the load. 
It's rare that I'll come to each part of a routine and achieve maximum output each time. I have an even mix of heavy days where I'll have things I want to get done and I'll be super productive. And there are days where I don't put so much on my plate and instead just do the bare minimum to feel like I've achieved something... anything. 

2) Take a chill pill
Just because you said you'd study from 10_2pm doesn't mean you can't take any breaks. I'm a big fan of 45 minutes of work and 15 minutes of YouTube. I've always got fruit and water within reach to try and limit my trips to the kitchen. You are not a machine so don't push yourself like one!

Similarly, if it is 18°C Ireland, you'd best believe I'll be lying out in the sun doing absolutely nothing. Somedays I try to get through as many videos in my Watch Later playlist as I can. Other days I scroll aimlessly online, read books, lie in bed, watch films and take multiple naps. I find all these things incredibly fun and pleasing so why would I stop myself doing them if I feel like it? 

Like I said, routines allow you to pick up where you left off. But you have to have the discipline to return to it. I learned a trick from Matt D'Avella that actually helps quite a bit with this. He advises that you don't take two days off in a row. I'd usually do a day of nothing, maybe two if I really need it but never three consecutive days. Like Matt, I also found doing nothing multiple days in a row makes it harder to stick to a routine. 

3) Be Compassionate to Yourself
Oftentimes I can be so mean to myself if I am not achieving something I set my heart on. It's like my head and heart turn on each other. Try to be compassionate to yourself in times like these. I like to take quiet time to allow my head and heart to "talk it out". I literally role play being my head and heart and share what I'm thinking or feeling. Then I try to me a friend to myself and tell myself what I'd say if my best friend came to me with those sentiments. It sounds silly but I put it to you to try it. 

There are many other factors that can influence the routines you set for yourself like your general goals in life, your sense of security either personally or financially, and uncontrollable incidents. But this is a simple place to start. I truly think having a system that allows you to address your desires and concerns knowing you are moving forward or staying content where you are is deeply fulfilling. 

What are your thoughts on routines? Let me know in the comments below!

Till Next Time

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