THE IMPORTANCE OF ROUTINES
This pandemic has affected everyone is some way or another, having caused disruption, change and the requirement for adjustment. Creating a daily routine is one of the things we can do to help us feel more in control, to form healthy habits, and to reduce stress levels. Below are some of the benefits of implementing a routine that can help us during these challenging times –
- It Anchors Us – No matter what’s going on in our day, having structure can be a real comfort. It makes coping with unpredictable periods of time more manageable.
- Reduces Stress – when we have a daily routine a lot of the everyday chores and tasks that may be otherwise overwhelming tend to slot into place, lifting an element of pressure. Routine takes the guesswork and uncertainty out of certain tasks, allowing us to feel more in control and less stressed.
- Creates Positive Daily Habits – having a daily routine helps us to cultivate positive daily habits and prioritise self-care. Organising our time gives us the opportunity to build in time for things that are important to us. This can have a really positive impact on our mental health and overall well-being. So don’t forget to factor in some time for fresh air, exercise, or the hobbies or past-times you enjoy.
- Improves Sleep Patterns – our body enters recovery mode while we sleep so getting a good night’s rest is really important for our physical well-being. And it can also have a huge effect on our mental health too, because going to bed and waking at the same time allows our body to develop a sleep-wake cycle, essentially our body clock. Having a structure around bed and wake time, and ensuring we are well rested, enables us to cope better with the day ahead.
- Encourages A Healthy Diet – when we become overwhelmed it can be really difficult to plan, cook, and eat a balanced diet. Food can really affect our mood, so it’s important that we try to keep things as balanced as possible. A routine can help with this, as it allows us to build in some planned time for cooking, eating, and even cleaning up afterwards.
So how do we do it? Well, here are 5 important steps that can help you create and develop your own daily routine:
- Make a List
First, write down everything you need to get done daily, both in your home life and at work. Don’t worry about how you organize this list; this is a mind map, not a to-do list. Just jot down everything you do each day, as well as everything you should get done.
2. Structure Your Day
Now think about when you work best, and group your tasks into the time of day that makes the most sense as to when you might complete them. For example –
- Mornings: Mornings are often about getting out the door quickly, which can be a challenge. Once the morning rush is over, reserve some time for the tasks that require the most critical thinking and troubleshooting. Get the tasks that you want to do least done first thing in the day, so it’s not looming over you later on.
- Midday: This is a tricky time of day because your energy levels—and perhaps the caffeine from your morning coffee—have likely dissipated. However, this means you might be ready to do the boring, routine stuff that doesn’t take a lot of brainpower. Use this time for tasks like answering emails, setting appointments, and running errands. If you are based at home during the day, use this time for routine cleaning, like emptying the dishwasher or folding some laundry.
- Evening: Evenings work best when they’re set aside for planning and preparation for the next day. Layout your clothes, pack lunches, and declutter the rooms where items tend to pile up, this prepares you for an easier morning. Or jot down a quick to-do list for work, so that you don’t waste time when you start your working day.
Within these loose outlines of each part of your day, you can get as specific as you want. For example, you might want to write out a routine for your morning that looks something like this:
- 7 a.m.: Wake up, brush teeth, and shower
- 7:30 a.m.: Breakfast
- 8 a.m.: Leave the house
- 8:15 a.m.: Drop off the kids at creche/school
- 8:30: Arrive at the office
That’s a very detailed schedule, but some people might feel more comfortable with that—at least until they get the hang of the routine.
4. Schedule in Time for Flexibility
Life gets in the way of even the most detailed of routines. The main point is to harness your most productive times to use for your most challenging tasks, and your least productive times to do the more mundane tasks. But there might be other times when unexpected or unusual things crop up, like maybe a doctor’s appointment during the hours you usually set aside for work, or a social gathering taking place in the evening—your daily routine and a little bit of planning will help keep things flowing smoothly, despite any hiccups.
5. Test Drive Your New Routine
Take your new routine for a test drive for 30 days. Did you schedule your tasks and activities at times that make sense for you? Do you need to adjust things?
Tweak anything that’s not working, and then assess again after 30 days when hopefully you’ll feel more in control, more productive, and less stressed.
By Emma Smith, Club Vitae Sligo