One of the things I consistently find myself yearning for in day to day life is a routine – when I left school I found it weird so at uni I made myself a more structured routine. Then again when I finished uni I struggled taking each day with no plans and no idea of what would happen.
When you’re freelance, self-employed, unemployed, a graduate struggling to find a job, whatever reason for being home a lot, often on your own and an expanse of uncertain future in front of you, the weight of that uncertainty can make it hard to find a reason to get out of bed. The only definite timings you have are breakfast, lunch and dinner and that’s assuming you’re not sad binge eating, snacking all day and have a healthy relationship with food.
So here’s where the routine bit comes in – I’ve always been the person who thrives on structure, will pull a to do list of things I need to do out of the air and keep myself busy so I thought I’d share what works for me. This is a little disclaimer that it’s exactly that – what works for me, everyone is different; some people don’t care about routines, some people really struggle to stick to a plan they’ve made and sometimes other factors come into play, I’m just sharing what I do to structure my days.
There are some tips to how I motivate myself to get out of bed every day and give myself a purpose.
#1 – writing to do lists
Is this a shock to anyone at this point? But seriously – making my monthly goals which feeds to my weekly bullet journal spreads and daily to do post-it notes make it so much easier to make a routine that doesn’t become stale too quickly because each day is different from the tasks I set myself. I then feel more productive and feel mentally prepared to do it all again the next day.
My lists are filled with things like filming videos, writing blog posts, working on my freelance career, but also includes things like doing the laundry, selling that pile of stuff that’s building up in my room etc. Obviously I can’t write a list of things that you could put on a list because it’s so personal, but if you don’t have projects to work on or you struggle to think of things you could put on a list then even things like having a shower, making lunch, making your bed can be a place to start – it’s something to tick off (which is so satisfying) and you can build on it from there.
#2 – have set times for food
It sounds ridiculous, but if you can give yourself time markers throughout the day it just breaks the day up a bit. I aim to eat my breakfast by 9am, I let myself go for lunch at 12pm (I normally count down the minutes) and then depending on what we’re having for dinner I usually start cooking about 5pm for dinner at 6pm. That’s when I stop for the day – I come out of the office, leave my computer and have some off-screen time. Which is ironic because instead of looking at my computer screen I watch TV and scroll through my phone but it’s a work in progress, I’m cutting down my scrolling! An attempt was made!
#3 – plan stuff for the future
This isn’t so much for having a routine but for keeping yourself sane – whether it’s a diary, a bullet journal or a digital calendar on your phone, getting through every day when you have to make stuff up for yourself to do is so much easier when you’ve got days with friends or a weekend away or a job pencilled in, especially if you’re unemployed and don’t have any friends that live nearby, having something to look forward to can make finding a routine in the now much easier.
It’s a bit like #2 – rather than breaking up the day, it breaks up the future so rather than this expanse of ‘no plans’, there’s something coming up. Obviously this is based on the things that I struggle with – some people see a blank calendar as relaxing or exciting but it scares me, to be honest. What I’m saying – take these tips with a pinch of salt!
#4 – have a space to work
This one I struggle a bit to explain, because for me it meant not being in the living room, not being in the kitchen and not being in my bedroom but I know that a lot of people don’t have the luxury of turning a spare bedroom into an office – I definitely didn’t at uni! But if you can find or make a separate space to work on your tasks I find that really helpful. At the moment, I’ve got a little office space at home but when I was at uni I found going into a local cafe or into uni (not the library, it was soul destroying) really helped my productivity.
Sitting somewhere as comfortable as the sofa is probably not going to work in your favour if you’re trying to get out of the slump of binging Netflix and having an afternoon nap. Also then, the sofa is not a work environment and it can be exclusively for binging Netflix and taking an afternoon nap.
#5 – have a strict sleep schedule
I don’t mean strict in the extreme way that you can’t stay up late sometimes and adapt, but having times to wake up and wind down make a routine and structure so much easier.
Personally, I start planning to go to bed at 10pm, by the time I’ve actually got up from the sofa, changed into my PJs, brushed my teeth, read a couple of chapters of my book I’m ready to settle down for sleep between 11pm and 11.30pm. I’ve also recently started not looking at my phone after I’ve plugged into charge before I start reading (except to update my Goodreads progress) and that’s really helped too.
I am to be up between 6.30am-7am but that doesn’t always happen, I’m usually out of bed by 8am at the latest and having that structure is so helpful for my routine.
It’s all a work in progress – I’m still learning, I accidentally spent three hours watching YouTube with breakfast the other day but I mentally reviewed it and planned a way to combat it. It’s about self awareness, noticing the things that aren’t helping your routine and deciding how to work on it.
I hope this has been helpful, it’s turned into a proper long ramble but these are my favourite kinds of posts!
Thank you so much for reading,