In another episode of “Lessons Coronavirus Lockdown Taught Me…” this week, I focus on the importance of a morning routine.
Yes, if you’ve been reading blogs for a while, you’ve probably seen hundreds of takes on a good morning routine, usually involving nice platitudes like taking time for positive self-talk, gratitude, meditate, but these often miss out on lot of basic fundamentals taken for granted.
For the person forced into a permanent state of homeworking due to lockdown measures, it can become quite easy to neglect the basics.
The simple act of having a deadline to commute to the office, inspires a sense of urgency and consistency to get more stuff done.
What you’re about to read isn’t particularly sexy, or enlightening, but these small steps should be consider when you don’t need to dress up to go outside.
Get up early / get up at the same time
When the gyms shut, I saw no point anymore getting up to make the doors opening at 6am, so enjoyed the extra time in bed, allowing myself to wake up whenever I felt like it.
I really underestimated how important having a set time to wake up got me motivated and moving, despite the extra sleep I began to feel more worn out and tired.
You’d think more sleep would make you more rested, but apparently it all depends on the sleep cycle you awake from.
Therefore, although research doesn’t recommend waking up to an alarm clock, this is a better method than waking up at different times each day.
Personal hygiene activities
It seems kind of stupid, patronising and well…, disgusting for me to tell you the importance that you still need to shower, brush your teeth, etc, but it’s worth highlighting because when you’ve been working from home for a while it can be taken for granted.
Six months in lockdown I got out of the habit of always cleaning consistently – after all I wasn’t seeing anyone in person, so who cares if I didn’t bother to put any deodorant on!
It’s worth nothing that not taking the time to look after your personal hygiene is a sign of depression – after a while I felt down, I’d look in the mirror thinking how hideous I looked.
I realised I needed to take better care of my appearance. This had a magical impact and I began to feel better. All this may sound obvious, but by taking this action psychologically, it shifted my mindset from “what is the point…” to getting ready to face the day.
It’s easy to neglect eating when you are working at home. Often when rushing for the train I would get something in me, because I probably wouldn’t have a chance getting into the office.
A mistake made at home was to deprioritise this, assuming I had all morning to get something from the kitchen, but often I’d get caught in workload and back to back meetings, and end up crashing on sugary convenience food to keep me going.
Having the time to sit down to eat before hitting the desk, gave me the energy to focus on the tasks ahead, and by concentrating on breakfast I could at least let my brain concentrate on enjoying the food!
“Personal” action activities
This is where your average blog makes a whole post of all these “nice to do” activities like journaling, working out and meditating.
As a father to two young children, a big part of my routine is getting them ready for the day, so I don’t have a lot of leisure time on my hands, which exposes the fundamental flaw of these blog morning routine lists – nice suggestions, but not something realistic to do for a busy homeworker, trying to balance many other commitments!
Therefore, my recommendation if you live a busy schedule is pick one activity which will start your day with positivity, energy, and a sense of achievement.
Avoid electronic devices
During all this time avoid electronic devices, my logic as a home worker is that I’m about to spend all day looking at a screen, so I want to reduce my time looking at technology as much as possible.
It’s a good idea not to check your phone until you start work, I’ve often had my pre-work routine ruined reading emails sent by Karen last night, who’s decided to have a dust up over the wording on a policy document.
No one needs that stress and anxiety before the day has even started.
Plan your day
In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks about “sharpening the saw.” This means allocating time towards your own self-care, because if you don’t you’ll exhaust yourself and be no use to no one.
An important step in this maintenance is to allow time to reflect and plan what you are going to do. Working at home it allows me to reflect on outstanding tasks, along with priorities for the day that need completing.
I recommend reading my post How Splitting Tasks Into Quadrants Helps To Manage Your Time, as this details an approach from the 7 Habits… book, which shows a way managing time getting a good balance of essential tasks, personal maintenance and avoiding time wasters…
It’s really important to highlight – you must do this before you start working, as I guarantee despite good intentions, if you decided to tackle that big stack of emails first, you’ll get distracted and never get round to doing this essential part of the morning routine.
**BONUS** Get outside
Technically this does not need to be part of a morning routine, but is just a general public health advice from me to you to make sure you get outside.
It’s really easy to become a hermit who never goes out when you work at home, and get all the symptoms of ill health from isolation like being run down and headachy.
The Essential Home Workers Morning Routine…
As more people settle into a new life of working at home, now seemed a good time to share good practical advice to instill a good morning routine.
Remember, make sure to:
- Get up early / Get up at the same time.
- Take care of your personal hygiene.
- Take time for a personal activity you enjoy.
- Avoid electronic devices.
- Plan your day.
- Get outside.
What’s your morning routine? Do you have any small, practical changes someone can make to improve their day?
James @Perfect Manifesto