Working from home during lockdown isn’t easy. You might struggle to get organised and motivated, or end up working until 10pm and forgetting to eat dinner. If you’re not currently working, e.g. because you’ve been furloughed, there’s a chance you’d feel even more adrift.
The good news is, there’s a simple solution: creating a routine.
Why is it important to keep a routine?
Keeping a routine is a really good way of forming useful habits, and training ourselves when to be in work mode. It’s also a good way to keep on top of daily tasks that might otherwise get forgotten. Taking medication such as routine contraception is easier to remember if you do it at the same time each day e.g. after eating breakfast or brushing your teeth.
A daily routine can also influence our circadian rhythms. These are changes in the body and mind over a 24-hour period that affect how we sleep (1). If you get up and go to bed at the same time each day, your circadian rhythms should adjust, and you might find it easier to sleep (2).
How do I start keeping a routine?
Start with the basics. Try to get up and go to bed at the same time each day. Most of us need between six and nine hours of sleep each night (3) so an average sleep schedule might run from 10pm-7am or 12am-8am. If it takes you a while to get to sleep, set aside some “wind-down” time before you get into bed.
With your sleep routine sorted, establish set meal times. Try and eat breakfast (even something small) and make sure you have a lunch break in the middle of the day. Dinner shouldn’t be eaten right before you sleep as this can disrupt your sleep and give you heartburn (4).
Once you’ve covered sleeping and eating, look at fine-tuning your daily routine to add in other helpful habits.
Start a workout routine
When you’re working from home, it can be easy to let fitness slip. Make sure you keep active by adding exercise to your daily routine. The most important thing is that you do a little bit each day.
If you’re not currently working, exercise can be an even more useful tool to help structure your day. In the morning do some cardio and strength-training (using a free online video to guide you). Later, take a long walk or cycle in a local park or wood.
Remember, you don’t have to do strenuous exercise every day. Don’t be afraid to switch up activities across the week, and to give yourself days off from more intense activity.
Start a cleaning routine
A cleaning routine can be really useful, especially if you live with other people. Set out which tasks need to be done daily (e.g. dishes) and weekly (e.g. cleaning the bathroom). Then write them out in a clear list, and display this in a shared area. Divide the tasks amongst everyone, so no one person is doing too much.
When you’re spending so much time at home, it’s a really good idea to keep it tidy, clean and organised.
Start a skincare routine
A skincare routine is a great thing to add to your day, especially as the weather gets more cold and dry. One of the benefits of a skincare routine is that it gives you some time to yourself, away from the stress of the day.
The basics of a skincare routine are cleansing and moisturising your face. You should aim to do this twice a day: once in the morning after you get up, and once in the evening before you go to bed.
There are plenty of other elements you can add into your daily regime, including using toners, serums, oils and acids – you can read more about these in this guide by Marie Claire. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time outside, even in the winter, it’s a good idea to include SPF in your skincare routine.
Make time for fun
Don’t forget, your daily routine should always include time for hobbies, fun, and relaxation. Make sure you pencil out time each day to read, watch TV, bake, or just relax with a good cuppa.
What’s the best way to maintain a routine?
It’s not always easy to form new habits, so it might take a while to adjust to your new routine. Keep things simple by not expecting too much of yourself. Make changes slowly, and don’t beat yourself up if you break your routine now and then.
Don’t forget there’s plenty of modern technology that can help. Wear a smartwatch, add calendar events on your phone, and use smart assistants to keep on top of things. Before long, your routine will feel like second nature.