Positive Habits

Finding solace in routine

I think I’m a man of routine. Actually, I’m definitely a man of routine.

Before all this craziness happened, I had a pretty good system:

  • 06:30 wake up.
  • 06:45 write.
  • 07.30 shower, dress, breakfast.
  • 08:15 leave the flat.
  • 09:00 arrive at the office.
  • 17:45 leave the office. 
  • 18:30 arrive home.
  • 19:15 eat dinner.
  • 19:45 write.
  • 21:00 relax.
  • 22:00 read.
  • 22:30 lights out.

It worked. It varied here and there depending on what productions I was working on and if I was travelling, but for the most part it was a pretty steady way to structure the day.

Then Covid burst through the doors, trumpets blaring, and tore my routine to shreds.

My sleeping pattern was shot to bits. Without a commute, I got lazy. My bedtimes got later, my rising times got later, and I spent long hours scrolling through my phone and refreshing news feeds, clinging on to every inch of breaking news.

In a few short days I had undone all the positive phone habits I had worked had to create – or rather, regained all the bad phone habits I had last year. I was sluggish in the mornings, found it difficult to concentrate, and prioritised my work so badly that I was busy until late in the evenings. I couldn’t switch off, everything was swirling around my head.

After a while though, the dust settled.

Routine got me back to where I was. I structured my work day more clearly, making obvious divisions between my paid work, my personal projects, and my downtime. I kept my waking routines as consistent and close to normal as possible.

Now my days look something like this.

  • 07:00 wake up.
  • 07:30 write.
  • 08:30 shower, dress, breakfast.
  • 09:00 start work.
  • 12:30 lunch.
  • 13:30 resume work.
  • 17:30 close my laptop and go for a run.
  • 18:30 cook and eat dinner.
  • 19:30 do whatever the heck I want.

At first I was punishing myself for not making progress with my personal projects. My novel was getting nowhere, my scripts getting nowhere, my documentaries are left untouched on my computer.

But this isn’t a normal time. This isn’t simply an accumulation of some extra hours that I can use to be more creative or productive. If I can make some progress, then great. But there’s too much else going on to warrant beating myself up over not having written my magnum opus by the time all of this is over.

Re-introducing routine and structure in my life has helped calm things in my own mind, and I’ll try not to let it slip. But if it does, for whatever reason, there’s no benefit to being hard on myself about it.

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