Lockdown lessons: Motivation and routine
As I write this we’re in the weird transition stage of lockdown. Boris has shut pubs at 10pm, groups of more than six can’t meet up anymore (but the details of this changes depending on where you are in the UK), and at the moment about a quarter of the country is back into a local lockdown.
Lockdown definitely isn’t what it used to be, but I thought I’d chime back to those days where socialising was all gone, I was with my family 24/7, and the weekly Tesco shop was something I actually looked forward to doing just for a reason to get out of the house.
Many people started working from home, and with that caused a lot of changes to routine. Another thing that came out of it was trying to maintain motivation, and if you’re someone lacking in this, or just fancy a look at my lockdown schedule, then look no further.
I make a weekly list using the digital sticky notes of my laptop. I used to write everything down physically, but having it electronically means I can move things around as and when plans change. Having a bigger list allows me to make sure everything I need to get done in that specific week is all in one place.
Then I make a written daily list the night before. So take it off your weekly list, and add more detail to the smaller daily one. By having specific tasks, you can finish the day knowing you’ve done everything you wanted. Plus, breaking down the big week list makes it much more manageable, and more likely you'll actually get it done.
For example, rather than putting ‘Media Law’ I would put ‘Media Law – Complete one paper and mark it’. This way I can crack on with a task much quicker because I already know what I need to do.
So I type up my big week to-do list on the Friday, and then write my Monday list on the Sunday night, all ready for the week ahead. This may seem like a lot of lists, biut it works for me!
2. DON’T AIM TOO HIGH
If you set yourself too many tasks, you’re only going to lose motivation. You’ll either end up extending your working hours to get the jobs done, in which case you lose relaxation time and eventually burn out, or you move tasks over to the next day, which puts you in an endless cycle of incomplete to-do lists, and consequently a feeling of failure.
You know what is possible for you to achieve in a typical seven-hour working day. Push yourself to work well, but don’t be too adventurous – you’re not superman.
Although I swear by lists, I do find that timetables aren't the best for me personally. If you’re splitting the day hour by hour you’re never going to stick to it. Some things take more time than expected, and vice versa - that's fine. Make the list, but work through it in whatever order you want.
Work out what type of worker you are – morning or afternoon (or maybe a night owl?) – then you can tackle the tasks in the order that works best for you depending on when you're most motivated.
You may be on a rigid timetable at school, but that doesn’t need to be the case at home.
You may be working from home, but that doesn’t mean working from bed in your PJs. This might be a novelty for the first month, but you soon realise it isn’t the most productive way to work.
I’m not saying get into a full-on suit and tie to work from your dining room table, but getting showered and dressed makes a big difference. This is a way of telling your body it is time to work, and then you can get back into you PJs in the evening, making it easier for you to know when to switch off again.
A home office isn’t possible for everyone, but I found working at a desk (or dining table, whatever you’ve got) really helps too. Sitting in a structured work-zone means that you know when you're there, it is time to work. Plus, just like you arrive for work, you can leave it for your lunch break, and again at the end of your day - separating work and home life.
As you can see from the photo, my desk is right next to my bed, but I know that if I’m at the desk it's time to be productive. If I ever attempt to work from bed (the 'soft office' as some call it) I can guarantee I’ll be asleep within half an hour.
MY LOCKDOWN ROUTINE
7:30AM – Get up and do a workout/Go for a run
I found it so much better to get this done first thing. If I was leaving it to do later in the day, I really struggled to actually find the energy – I would end up dreading it all day. Getting it done first meant I could tick it off my list and feel great by 9AM!
9:00AM-10:00AM – Breakfast, shower and get ready for the day (and scroll on my phone)
I’m going to be honest here, having a look through Instagram stories became part of my routine.
10:00AM-1:00PM – Morning work session
By work, I mean I was studying for my journalism exams. I definitely work better in the morning, so chose to do tasks that needed more brain power first, like doing a practice paper.
1:00PM-1:45PM – Lunch
Always a good part of the day.
1:45PM-5:00PM – Afternoon work session
I always get into a bit of a slump straight after lunch, so until about 2:30PM I always take a bit longer to get back to the same level, this is where I’d do tasks that were less taxing like marking practice papers, or running through cue cards.
5:00PM-5:45PM – Dog walk
My dog, a mini sausage dog called Luis (right), knew when it was getting to this time. He would always wait by my door when he knew I was finishing off, so I didn’t even need to say anything and he knew it was time for a walk. Getting outside was a great way to transition between working and relaxing.
5:45PM onwards – Relax
I like cooking anyway, but found I was making dinners/teas much more over lockdown because I was actually in for the evenings rather than working shifts at the restaurant. This time was for cooking and eating, and then watching TV, catching up on social media, and reading.