23rd March 2020 – Adjusting to the new ‘ Daily Normal’

 

So today will be the first day of real change for many of us. Perhaps the café, pub, restaurant or gym you work in has been forced to shut down for now, so you don’t have a job to get up for and go to today? Or, like me, maybe your kids are at home now that the schools have been closed to all those except the children of essential workers? Perhaps you don’t fall into one of those categories, but instead you’re on week 2 or 3 of enforced working from home?

Certainly for me, one of the tools that I’ll be relying on to get through this period is to build as much structure and routine into the new “daily normal” as possible. Having worked both for myself and mostly from home for the best part of the last 15 years, I know how important this is.

I still remember the time when I left my last PAYE job in order to take the plunge and go freelance/work for myself and from home back in around 2007 (so this was in a different life/pre-nkd!). I remember smugly telling my colleagues about how much time I was going to have to exercise and get fit/go out/read books in the additional time I would have each day, instead of spending that time (roughly 90 minutes) driving to and from work. 90 minutes a day multiplied by 5 days a week? That’s seven and a half hours additional time I would have to myself each week! Almost the equivalent of an extra working day! Just imagine how much useful and productive stuff I could get done in that time, I told myself! I was convinced that a physical and emotional transformation would follow just as soon as I had all this extra time.

I also remember certain colleagues, who had previously worked from home for long stints of time, looking back at me equally smugly. They knew! They knew that the vision I was imagining was so very different from the reality that would ensue. They knew that instead of spending the additional 90 minutes per day doing exercise and getting fit or whatever other “me” activity I had planned, actually what would almost certainly happen is this:

  • I’d get up later each day
  • I’d open my computer/start checking emails before I’d even got dressed or had breakfast
  • I’d spend large parts of the day flitting between my “work station” and the rest of my house, doing a bit of work and a bit of home stuff too with no clear separation between the two
  • I’d generally be far less productive because of the lack of sense of urgency I had
  • Before I knew it, it would be 5pm and time to turn my computer off and get on with my life outside of work, but what do you know – it was 5pm and I hadn’t achieved half of what I needed to that day, so actually I ended up working a few more hours
  • By the time I did decide I was done for the day, it was closer to 7pm and I still needed to prepare and cook dinner etc.
  • So oops, no physical exercise or getting fit today, but never mind there’s always tomorrow (but even if there had have been time to do it, I felt so sluggish as a result of not getting properly dressed or ready each morning and not getting nearly enough fresh air every day that it wouldn’t have happened anyway)
  • (and no prizes for guessing what then happened tomorrow. And the next day. And the next …..)

I realise that a lot of this will not be directly relevant to a lot of you, not least because some of you won’t have any work to do right now. Or maybe you think it’s irrelevant because you’re faced with the prospect of not only getting your own work done each day, but helping your children get their schoolwork done as well. But the theme of today’s message is that whatever your situation is right now, structure and routine is incredibly important, as well as a healthy dose of self-discipline!

I’ve heard quite a few people saying they’re going to get out the Christmas decorations and start playing Christmas music to try and kid themselves that it’s a different season and that they’re spending all this time at home for altogether different reasons. Personally, I absolutely WON’T be doing that, but I do think that the Christmas comparison is interesting.

I’m guessing that most of us would probably agree that the novelty of the first few days of the Christmas period are good fun. i.e. the getting up and going to bed at whatever time you want, accompanied by eating and drinking a whole host of stuff you wouldn’t normally eat or drink, often at times which are not conventional mealtimes. Spending your days watching TV/playing with the kids or whatever else takes your fancy at whichever time takes your fancy.

But then the novelty starts to wear off. You can’t wait to get back to normal. You crave the routine and structure of every day life. You feel sluggish because you’re not eating and drinking sensible amounts at sensible times and unwittingly, your sleep may be affected.

But unlike Christmas, most of us will not have the choice of getting back to our normal everyday lives anytime soon! So I personally will be trying really hard to make the upcoming days, weeks and months as much UNLIKE Christmas as possible, as I know that this will be best for me, my husband and my children in the long run, despite what they may be thinking now! This will absolutely involve regular waking up and going to bed times, daily built-in time for both indoor and outdoor exercise, and a clear separation between weekdays and weekends.

I hope that advice is useful and relevant to most of you and I’ll be in touch again soon.

Take care for now
Rebecca at nkd x

 

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