So I’ve been thinking a lot about routine and structure recently. Since starting my new job at the beginning of June, I’ve been trying to work in a vague routine. Wake at 7, out the door at 8:30am, back home at 5:30pm and depending on the day of the week, either back out for things in the evening or at home trying to balance between some time spent doing housework and making time for things I enjoy such as blogging, knitting, watching tv etc. Wrap everything up by 9:45pm so I can tidy up for half an hour or so, then I have 45 minutes (ish) to meditate and get ready for bed. This is for weekdays by the way, weekends are a bit more anything goes.
The waking up, going to bed, leaving and returning to the house times tend to be adhered to pretty well but everything else seems to go out of the window half the time. Yet, I know I feel best when I’m in a routine and being equal parts productive and resting. I am fully aware that real life cannot be portioned up into neat little blocks of time, things come out of the blue and plans change, but why, when it’s not due to out of the blue things, do I still seem to let my routine slip, knowing full well this will set me up to fail?
I’m not sure I know the answer, this is one of those posts where I just ‘talk out loud’ and then feel better afterwards. I think it’s partially ‘laziness’ but I use that term very loosely after reading this very interesting article about the root causes of behaviour that is deemed ‘lazy’ and highlighting that there is usually something underlying. There is usually some reason why I don’t want to do the things I’m supposed to be. I also think it stems back to mental health. Although I’m in a far better place than I was a few years ago, hell even a few months ago, I still have days where functioning is hard, or days where it starts off fine and then something happens and then that’s it, it may only be 6pm but I am done with functioning for the day.
Whatever it is, I need to try and remind myself to help myself and that will in turn make me feel better. I’m not sure why as adults, we seem to shun routine as something only important for children. It’s well known that people are able to better cope with life when there’s some semblance of routine but it seems that admitting it is deemed childish or that you’re not succeeding at being a human adult if you admit that you can’t constantly live life on the fly. When talking about this with some close church friends, we talked about using to-do lists (usually acceptable in wider society, they make pretty notepads for that kind of thing) and alarms/ reminders more, which I am actively trying to do (my to-do listing ability in my new job is something worthy of note, not so much at home).
I’m also using alarms on my phone as reminders and nudges to actually get stuff done. Unlike a to-do list, I feel that this is probably quite a common technique of staying on top of things but it is not talked about in wider context, that would definitely be deemed a bit odd and that you’re not able to keep yourself on track without help. But y’know what, yeah I need help to stay on track, but if it works why judge me (or anyone else) for it? It doesn’t have a great impact in anyone else’s life really. They don’t make prettily patterned things in Paperchase for this function though, it’s a phone or an alarm clock for you, but there are a range of emojis for jazzing up alarm titles on your phone.
If you hear my phone going off at 6:15pm on weekday evenings (not Mondays, at Brownies, Mondays are a law unto themselves), you now know that I’ll be peeling myself off the sofa from my post work chill to do something about maybe feeding myself and my Husband that evening. And yes, the alarm title is accompanied with a spaghetti bowl emoji. I’ve got this down alright. I’m actively trying to keep myself more on track, using things such as to-do lists and a range of phone alarms to remind myself or persuade myself to do various things instead of wasting endless evenings to scrolling through Instagram or Facebook.
I’ve deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone too. If I do for some reason really need to go on them during the day, I can use the Browser version, but overall I’m trying to limit myself to going on there only when I’m on my tablet, which I’m trying to limit my use of to certain amounts of time at certain points of the day (a bit of time over breakfast during the week when I’m on my own, whilst I chill after work for a bit, maybe a bit at the end of the evening). I’m not doing this to be pretentious, I just cottoned on that I’m wasting a lot of my time on there without really realising it. Partially, I need that time back to do things around the house and other boring life admin tasks, but partially I want that time back to do things I always say I ‘never have time to do’ like blogging or more craft/knitting etc. It’s helping, but sometimes I just end up using my tablet for longer instead…
Overall, the only solid routine there seems to be is the cycle of which I go through being in and out of a routine. The irony almost kills me. I seem to get my shit together really well for a week, mostly well for another week and then all hell breaks loose for a couple of weeks, my house ends up a mess, we don’t eat as well and I generally feel worse.
Hopefully one day, this will come to almost 4 weeks of being somewhat there, but we’ll see. Some of this seems to be situational, we have a super busy weekend away, then we’re knackered and want more time to rest than do housework etc, then we finally get fed up of clutter and then spend a quiet weekend getting back on track and keep at it for a little while until the next super busy weekend comes around again. I’m not sure if there is more to it than that, I have cottoned on to the fact it could be hormonal and in line with the natural hormonal cycle my body goes through each month too, but it doesn’t seem to line up with that so I’m really not sure.
I just wish I could remind myself more often to actually use my routine and be more pro-active because I feel so much better when I do. Until that point, I’m just going to keep ticking along somehow and if you fancy reminding me about the routine thing, I’d be grateful of a kick every now and then.