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Building a Rhythm (COVID-19 edition)

March 17, 2020

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We are well on our way into quarantine territory, schools being closed, work from home (WFH) mandates, and schedules being uprooted and needing to be adjusted. Some of us might relish the change in pace and some of us are digging our heels in at the change.

I tend to be someone who relishes the change because it comes with a challenge and a puzzle to figure out. How can I continue doing the work I’m doing in a new way? How can I overcome the challenges and obstacles with as little disruption as possible? What new things can I try with the change in pace and rhythm?

Kinda not the normal response, I know (although it hasn’t all been this response; I’ve done my fair share of digging my heels in out of frustration for cancelled events, postponed trips, etc). But helpful once I’ve come to the realization that the current situation, remote part time job and 100% work from home, is my new norm.

With this being my new norm and the intrigue of solving this puzzle, I sat down with my planner, in the middle of my living room, and thought through exactly how I could make this transition smooth and fun for myself. How was I going to organize my time and schedule to allow me to get work done well, be intentional with the increased time at home, and create a rhythm that felt doable and enjoyable.

Here’s what I came up with:
if you’re a more visual/audio learner, see my IGTV here.

1. Clean up your space.

I started out by cleaning up the space I knew would be used as WFH space. I decluttered our book area, I cleaned up the business boxes, I reorganized my closet (it sits in the living room), I cleaned out my office storage bins, and I dusted and vacuumed.

I did this first and foremost because I needed to have a ready-to-go space for work. I needed that working space to feel clear of any distractions in order for it to feel like work. I wanted to know that when I opened a storage bin to find a pen or sticky note, I wouldn’t be spending five other minutes trying to decide if the pen I grabbed would actually work or scrounging for a sticky note I knew was probably buried down deep.

I also know myself and know that if there is some other productive task I can be working on in my field of vision, I will likely procrastinate on whatever I was working on to go work on that productive task. If all the dusting, cleaning, and organizing are already one, then I guess the only productive thing left for me to do is, work.

Make sure this space, as best as you can, is only used for work. Your brain and body start to get confused if the space is also used for sleeping, watching TV, etc. If you only use the work space for work, it’ll be easier to focus when you are truly working.

2. Choose to get ready in the morning.

I’m someone that enjoys looking put together and enjoys putting a cute fun outfit together, but if I can avoid having to put real pants on or a bra, I will do so. This usually correlates to putting on leggings or yoga pants and a giant sweatshirt when I’m working from home. Sometimes this works out great and I can really zone in on getting great work done, but that’s usually when I have one off days.

If I know I’m going to consistently be working at home, then I know I should probably be actually putting clothes on and outfits together. They say “dress for success” and it’s true. If you intentionally plan out your outfit and put it on, then you are more likely to work accordingly. If I’m dressed in a business outfit, I’m more apt to think and act like I’m going to be meeting with executives or presenting an important presentation. If I want to create great material and content, then dressing in an outfit that inspires me, actually helps.

It’s a mind game for sure, but it works and is an intentional decision I can make each morning to help get my rhythm started on the right foot.

3. Decide on your daily and weekly priorities.

What do you want to be sure you’re doing each day or week? These could be small and seemingly trivial, or could be bigger items. Writing these down (I wrote mine in the “focus” section of my Kindred Planner) will help remind you of the commitment you’re making to yourself and encourage intentionality for each of your days/weeks.

For myself, these are the items I want to prioritize daily:

  • Morning workout: This helps kickstart my day, gets my energy up early, blood moving, and helps me feel ready to tackle the day. Whether this is a fitness YouTube video by a favorite fitness instructor (Blogilates and FitnessBlender), ClassPass Live videos, CorePower Yoga video (free video collection for this quarantine time), or a run.

  • Get ready (proper): see above.

  • Extended Quiet Time/Stillness: I usually start my day with stillness, allowing my brain to rest and mentally prep for the day ahead, practice gratitude for whatever is ahead, and be prayerful for anything that is going on in my life currently. I set a timer for three minutes, turn everything else off and just sit in stillness. Now that I don’t have to factor in travel time, my hope is to extend my still time to be longer and even less hurried.

  • Three Meals: Because we all know that sometimes eating at home means snacking a lot more or eating weird off-hour meals or eating zero meals. I am guilty of this and I don’t want this to be true this time around, so I’ve written in clear meal times in my rhythm. I feel a bit like a child, but I also know it’ll really help.

  • Afternoon walk/exercise: While it’s 100% important to practice social distancing and to limit unnecessary travel and wandering about, it’s also important to exercise and get fresh air (as able). My goal is to continue to exercise and get fresh air by taking a daily afternoon walk, doing my best to find areas that are less populated.

  • Regular wake-up/bed times: I could easily allow myself to sleep in or go to bed late, it’s helpful for our bodies and sleep to have regular times of waking up and going to bed. Sure there will be times when I can sleep in a little more or go to bed late, but overall am aiming to keep a regular sleep schedule. This will eventually pass and I don’t want to be totally thrown when it does and have to relearn a sleep schedule.

  • Reduced TV time: I LOVE TV shows and movies. I could binge watch for days. But if I want to be intentional with my time at home and tackle some of my side projects and goals, I know I need to limit myself and not let myself get carried away with the TV time. Especially when my work spot is right next to my TV… eep.

  • Reading break: As is true of most of our work, I spend a lot of time looking at screens. So my goal is to limit my screen time by choosing to take a reading break (likely during lunch) daily. The library is currently waiving late fees until May 1st, so let’s see how much reading I can get done.

  • Work Time after Dinner: As in, I don’t want to be working after dinner. In this current situation, I don’t have a reason to be working long after dinner. I can give myself breaks and rest.

Each week, I’m prioritizing:

  • Day of rest/Sabbath: This does not need to change despite the restrictions. I don’t need to go somewhere to rest or necessarily be with people to feel rested. I can call friends or family to be connected. I can spend extra time alone and in stillness and solitude, something I know my soul needs to be refreshed, but I’m often unwilling to give out of guilt.

4. Set aside time at the beginning of your week to plan.

If you set aside some time at the beginning of your week (or at the very end) and plan out what you want to get done for the week, then you’ll have a general guideline for what your upcoming week will be like in order to get those priority items accomplished.

For example, if a priority item for my week was to clean out my closet and sort out my clothes and I knew I would need at least four hours to do this (I’m slow y’all), then I could I decide if I wanted to spread out the work over a couple days or do it all one day. If I did it all one day, then my free hours that day would be limited because I would be spending four hours working on this one priority task. Other tasks that I might need to get done therefore would need to get done on other days. Does that make sense?

The gist of it is this: planning your week in advance helps you see what pockets of time will be filled with need-to-get-done work and what pockets of time are open to fill with rest, stillness, fun, exercise, etc. You’ll feel more at ease during your week knowing you’ve planned time to get the work done and still have room for the fun.

And then, write out those times in your calendar, planner, whatever you use and try your best to stick to them.

5. Try it out and be ready to adjust.

Sometimes we make the best of plans and create these long ideals for what we want our days and weeks to look like, and it doesn’t work. That’s okay. I don’t often get through all of my tasks, but I still try. And when I’ve tried a rhythm or schedule for a while and it’s still not working, then I adjust.

It’s okay to make adjustments, to hold loosely our plans and ideas and practice kindness to ourselves when things don’t work out as planned.

Especially in the current life situations we are living in, news, restrictions, limitations, and more are changing daily, sometimes hourly, and so we have to be willing to adjust and adapt accordingly as well.

——

I hope these are helpful for you friends as you consider how to rework your rhythms and schedules for this strange time we’re in. If you want more ideas or have questions, please feel free to reach out to us via social media or our contact page! We’re here for you!

What is your go-to rhythm builder tip?

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