How I Reinvent My Daily and Weekly Routines
I love routines and once I get into them, I hate breaking them. I find all sorts of comfort and success in reducing the number of decisions I have to make in a day. There is so much I gain from training my mind and body to produce or do what I want it to do on a daily basis. However, sometimes I’m forced to reinvent them and I’ve learned a thing or two.
Since the pandemic started I had to shift all of my work to home. Fortunately, most of it was home but there were still many parts that were on site at an office, venue, or university. I had routines and schedules worked out around all of that.
First, there were my two courses for University of Pennsylvania and Sarah Lawrence College. I had to pivot both of these to remote delivery. Then, there was my job at IBM. We hosted events in the city and I traveled to different sites for events and workshops. All of this was designed into my routine.
I went through the struggle of creating a new routine, fully based on being at home. Of course, add to this the fact that we were all living our first pandemic and I spent the first several weeks feeling quite down and falling out of various fitness, learning, and eating habits. Eventually, I developed a new routine and fell in love with it.
Five months later, I traveled to Dublin, Ireland for 6 weeks. Once again I needed to reinvent my routine. I developed a new one and worked it for my stay until it was time to go back to the US for 2 months. By this time, winter had arrived and I needed to figure out a revised version of the routine I had previously left behind. Then in January, I went back to Dublin, Ireland, this time for 3 months. It took me about two weeks before I started to make progress on a new routine. After lots of tweaking, I found something that I really enjoyed.
Lessons and Strategies for Reinventing Your Routines
Reinventing my morning and daily routines several times taught me a few things that are serving me right now as I adjust to life in the US again.
- Embrace your local environment – Discover what your new neighborhood, city, or location (i.e. back at the office) has to offer. For the last 4 weeks of my stay in Ireland, we stayed by the seaside in Monkstown, south of Dublin. The beautiful seaside views inspired me to create space everyday for walking and sitting by the ocean to listen to audiobooks and write daily. Thanks to this local treat, I started a daily habit of writing and publishing to my blog. This article is my 26th working day in a row that I post.
- Build, Measure, Learn, and Repeat – Be open to testing and adjusting any schedule you create. I’ve learned that there are different schedules for different times in my life and they take time to engineer. As we go back to the office, relocate to a new city, or start a new job, it is important to get started with a schedule and remain open to measuring the results and making adjustments as often as necessary. When the schedule is in practice, you’ll discover realities you could not have predicted, so adjust for them as needed. You’ll find that little by little, you get closer to an ideal routine for the current chapter of your life.
- Treat Yourself! Incorporate special treats or activities that you enjoy. For me, this is always related to great coffee. No matter what the change in my life or location, I look for a great local coffee shop and get to know the baristas. Building in a special treat into my morning routine gives me something to work towards and look forward to. On the weekends, I explore new and interesting wines.
- Fuel the Mind and Body – Incorporate fitness and learning into your routines. These are such a rewarding part of my morning that I can’t help but look forward to the day even if I have parts of the day I normally wouldn’t look forward to. Create opportunities for workouts, runs, or long walks. I listen to audiobooks and podcasts while working out or walking. These two elements of my day boost my mood and get me into the right state for making change possible.
- You don’t have to be perfect. Forgive yourself if you don’t have a perfect start. Sometimes it takes several days or weeks to fully realize the vision of the new schedule or routine. Focus on one piece at a time. It might take me a week or two to get to full realization. That said, I’m making adjustments along the way which might include fully swapping out some major components of the routine. In Monkstown, that means adding in a full 90 minutes for walking and thinking by the water.
- Give yourself time to smell the proverbial roses. This is one of my favorite opportunities in a routine. Consider gifting yourself a preferred more scenic route to a destination. When I worked in Manhattan, I took a slightly out-of-the-way subway and get off at a stop that was 15 to 20 minutes away from the office. That allowed me the pleasure of walking through Washington Square Park and passing one of my favorite coffee shops in the city.
- Make friends along the routine. Make friends with people on our route or that you run into regularly at the gym, coffee shop, bakery, park, subway, bus, etc. There’s something about making friends that makes a new routine more rewarding and enjoyable!
- Keep building, measuring, learning, and adjusting your routine and schedule. Treat it like a Rubik’s cube, each move gets you a little closer to your ideal routine. Even when it feels like you took a step backwards, sometimes that helps you take a bigger step forward. Become a calendar engineer and always seek to improve it with small touches and modifications.