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Get more done with a work from home routine (even if you’re not a routine kind of person)

Often, productivity advice revolves around setting strict routines and following them each day to perfection. But the truth is, strict routines aren’t for everyone. Working from home is often portrayed as a life of supposed freedom, but this freedom can often feel overwhelming and make it hard to be motivated and productive, which is why having a routine is recommended so much.

The best way to begin following a routine, even if you’re not a routine kind of person, is to start by understanding that routine looks different for everyone. For example, 73% of people use an alarm, 79% exercise in the morning and 68% sleep in at the weekends. Only 55% of people follow their routine everywhere and only 37% have the same routine on the weekends, according to MyMorningRoutine.com.

The point is, a great routine will look different to everyone, and it may even depend on what day of the week it is, but there will be a routine that works perfectly for you and will help you to get more work done whilst working from home.

Morning Routines 🥣

Morning routines are the most common type of routine, and they can help you start your day well – when you don’t feel restricted or rushed by them! How you spend your day will impact the rest of the day, so if you feel rushed or unproductive then that sentiment is likely to remain with you.

Many benefits come from having a morning routine, including being more productive, feeling more in control of your life, lower stress levels, boosted energy levels and improved relationships (MyVA360)

Starting a morning routine can be very simple, all you need to do is create a short schedule for the morning, beginning with when you wake up. Your routine could include simple tasks like showering, brushing your teeth and eating breakfast as well as other things like reading, exercising, or journaling. The great thing about creating your own morning routine is that you can tailor it to what you enjoy, creating your ideal morning, every morning. 

Daily routines ☀️

Daily routines are also very important, and they can help prevent us from feeling overwhelmed. Studies have shown that the mental health benefits of daily routines are far-reaching, including preventing substance abuse to managing the symptoms of some mental disorders (NYCTherapy).

Working from home has given rise to new challenges, from even more demanding work to co-working with colleagues across international time zones, so it is important to build in some structure where you can. Don’t worry too much about scheduling every minute of your day though, it is important to maintain some spontaneity even when your day is structured! 

There are several things you can do to build a good daily routine, including factoring in well-being time to go to the gym or to cook a healthy lunch and planning in breaks to relax and unwind. Having a routine also allows you to mentally prepare for the times of day when you can disconnect and chill out and it may help you avoid procrastination and putting work off all afternoon or evening until your partner gets home. Having a to-do list that you update daily with ‘must-dos’ is a great way to schedule your day without feeling constricted. 

Weekly routines 🗓

As well as having a daily routine, you may also find it helpful to have a weekly routine. Having a weekly routine can give you more structure surrounding tasks you do less often, and having a plan will allow you to feel more in control and less stressed (WebMD). Weekly routines can be great for people who don’t normally like a lot of structure too, as it means you can plan each day to be different, so you can maintain your productivity without getting bored. 

Weekly routines can help you look at your life from a wider perspective which can make scheduling your time easier. For example, you may want to complete specific tasks at specific times or on specific days, you may find you are more productive on some days than others, or that your work schedule doesn’t align with your children’s school schedule, so you need to move tasks around. Naturally, some days are more work-intensive than others, so it might fit you to have a weekly routine that has a different schedule on each day. Routines are there to make your life easier by removing your need to make decisions constantly, not to constrict you into behaving in exactly the same way all the time. 

Bedtime routines 🛏

Another really common type of routine is a bedtime routine. With one-third of Americans not getting enough sleep regularly, a bedtime routine is a simple step that you can take to enjoy better sleep (SleepFoundation). 

A good bedtime routine will start when you finish work. You should do something that signals the end of the workday, such as tidying your desk area, walking the dog, or running. This will tell your brain that your workday is over, and you can begin to relax and unwind. Avoiding electronics like your phone and the TV will also help you sleep, as electronic devices emit blue light which causes your brain to suppress melatonin production and to stay awake. Try knocking your electronics off 30 minutes to an hour before bed. Reading is a great way to get ready to sleep and can be a good final step to your bedtime routine. Reading will allow you to disconnect and chill out, winding you down perfectly for sleep. You can customize your bedtime routine to suit you – you could include journaling, a skincare routine or meditation, just remember to have relaxation in mind and to try and avoid blue light-emitting devices. 

Weekend routines ⚽️

Finally, if you often feel like your weekends disappear and you have neither relaxed nor been productive, then a weekend routine might be for you! Putting a good routine in place will ensure all the necessary tasks get done, whilst making your weekends calmer and allowing you to do more of the things you actually enjoy! (AlmostTheWeekend)

A weekend routine should not be restrictive, the aim is to allow you to better balance the necessary jobs with downtime and daily time, by having, for example, a strict lazy Saturday routine. 

All your weekend routine needs to include is the necessary tasks that need to be done, any scheduled events and the things that you want to do. You don’t need to plan your time to the minute, or even the hour, it’s usually enough to just assign things to “Sunday afternoon”, for example. 

Know when to break your routine 😴

While routines can give you plenty of structure, you don’t have to structure your life to the hour! Not everyone needs to follow a strict routine and sometimes “rules” or “guidelines” are fine. For example, start every day at 9am or take a real lunch break to cook something healthy. Knowing when to break your routine can be equally as important, for example, being mindful of your mental state means that you can do more tedious or repetitive work when you’re less focused. Spontaneity can also make you less stressed, more creative, and more flexible (Myers Davis) so it can be just as helpful as having a routine. 

Overall, the goal is balance and consistency. Having a routine, whatever that means to you, is important and it is also important to know when to break that routine. If you spend some time considering your routines and structures, then you can master the art of work-life balance.

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