How to Create a Routine in a Time of Uncertainty

Lack of a solid daily routine may be creating extra stress in your life during the pandemic. These ideas will help you add some structure back to your day.

For many, COVID-19 has turned daily routines upside down. Whether you are adapting how you see patients in the office, trying telehealth for the first time, adjusting to working from home while trying to homeschool your children or overcoming another obstacle, a lot has changed over the past several weeks. As we work to find our “new normal,” you may be missing the consistency a daily routine provided you. 

Routines don’t just provide structure in your life; they also help you accomplish your goals, help keep you calm, and save time. 

If you are looking for ways to establish a new routine, here are some tips to get started: 

1. Determine What is Important 

You don’t want your new routine to turn into a never-ending list of tasks you are hoping to accomplish in the next year. Instead, be realistic and create a list of the most important things. This should include basics like meals, hygiene, and any work-related tasks. Once you have the basics down, you can add in other activities that will be the most impactful to your day. Having a plan in place will help reduce time spent trying to figure out what to do next. 

2. Don’t Get Too Hung Up On Timeframes and Order 

It may be tempting to assign a certain amount of time for each task and the order you complete them in. For some, that may work great. However, for others, it can be discouraging if you fall behind. Try to focus on your routine as a whole, not how much time each task takes or the order. This will help you stick to your plan. Remember, things happen. If you get entirely off track from your schedule, make adjustments. 

3. Write It Down 

Once you have an idea of your routine, write it down to help solidify your plans. This could be in your daily planner, on your phone or computer, or even just a piece of paper. There are also apps you can download to help you track your routine — just visit the app store on your phone and search for “routine.” By having a record of your routine, you can hold yourself accountable and make sure you are sticking with the plan. 

4. Set “Office Hours”

When you’re working from home, it’s easy for boundaries to get blurry. When you’re done for the day, truly be done for the day — don’t stay up until midnight answering emails or doing administrative tasks from your couch. Continuing to have a “home” life, even when you’re at home all of the time, is important. 

5. Keep Your Normal Sleep Routine 

When you don’t have to be in the office at a certain time, it can be tempting to stay up much later than usual and sleep in the next day. Conversely, stressful experiences can also result in less sleep. Stick to your normal sleep hours as much as possible to reduce extra stress and loss of routine. 

6. Allow Time To Reflect 

At the end of each day, take a few minutes to reflect on your day. Think about what you were able to accomplish and any areas you would like to focus on in the future. Ask yourself, did my routine work? If not, it might be time to make some changes to it. Your routine doesn’t have to be set in stone. As things evolve throughout the pandemic, so should your routine. 

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