It took me just over a week to realize that I hadn’t written in my planner since the start of the lockdown here in Kuwait (March 12th). The initial reports said that the lockdown would be for 2 weeks. By the end of the first week, I was already starting to lose track of time. As someone who is self-employed, planning is important to me and to be honest, it’s something that I’ve always found comfort in. The predictability of routine was comforting and the organization of my day/week/month always provided me with some sense of security. However, now all that was gone. Not only was there nothing to plan, with everything closed + social distancing, but there was also the uncertainty that I had to deal with. How long will this go on for? When will we get out of here? How long will it take for life to return to ‘normal’? What will that normal even look like?
The questions were stressing me out so I decided to stop asking them and just work on focusing what I can control and see how I could work in at least a bit of structure to my day.
I have to admit, when this all first started, my first thought was, ‘Awesome! I now have time to do all the things that I need to do.’ However, it didn’t take long for that feeling to fade. It’s not that I didn’t want to be productive, but I think the reality of the seriousness and extent of what was going on started to hit me.
It didn’t help that a few days before the lockdown started my allergic bronchitis started to flare up. I spent the first two weeks of the lockdown coughing. I’ll be the first to admit that my paranoia of having COVID-19 spiked. Even though I knew that I was exhibiting my typical symptoms of allergies/bronchitis, I still couldn’t help but worry.
So illness, no routine, an uncertain future + worry about my parents & in-laws as well as others who I know who are frail and/or immunocompromised = a lot of stress & worry. This also meant bad sleep, strange appetite patterns, and an overall crankiness.
It was not good.
I knew I had to start doing something to change things up. Luckily, as my bronchitis started to subside, I started to feel a bit more like myself and things started looking up.
First things first, I got out my planner.
Yes, my days were not going to look the same as they did before, but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t shape them into something.
Just the act of getting out my planner, color pens, and stickers started to lift up my mood.
Then I started filling in a few basics – starting with my anchor points (e.g. Zoom conference calls) and writing down tasks that I wanted to accomplish. I tried to keep them realistic and not overwhelm myself by making the list too extensive.
The most important thing I did for myself is that I gave myself permission to be flexible. These are not normal times. I’m not ‘just’ working from home or stuck at home. I’m forced to be doing this because of circumstances that are beyond my control. Plus, these circumstances are scary! It’s not just that I’m stuck at home because I have a flat tire with no spare. No. I’m home because I have to be for the well-being of myself and others. These are not normal circumstances, so there is no normal way to act/react. This is all new and I think accepting that and taking that into consideration when I look at my calendar is important.
Seeing blank spots and cancelled plans does not mean that I have been lazy or ineffective. It’s just the current reality.
So, I’ve started planning again and it’s definitely having a positive impact on my mood and my focus. Of course, having the Whole Life Journey starting on April 11th helps too!
If you’ve been stuck or missing a bit of structure and aren’t sure where to start, here are a few suggestions:
- Write down one task that you want to accomplish that day. Keep it simple, focused, and manageable. For example, instead of just writing sort through all my clothes, break it down into something more manageable, such as: organize two shelves of clothes today.
- Work to maintain some consistency. Anchoring your day to a few regular habits can help give you a bit of rhythm to your day. What time you wake up and go to bed each day is a good start; maybe schedule what time you will eat even if you aren’t specifying what you’ll eat.
- If you take on a new hobby or practice, be patient with your progress. No matter how easy some YouTube tutorials might make things look, it takes time to get into the groove with a new hobby/practice, so don’t frustrate yourself by placing unrealistic expectations on yourself.
- Keep things general. I usually love having my day mapped out hour-by-hour. Under the current circumstances, it felt like too much pressure. However, drawing up a general routine
- Make room for down time. Rest is important. Don’t get lost in the urge to pack too much into each day.
One of the things that is on my mind is the start of the new format of the Whole Life Challenge: The Journey. I think the way the challenge has been modified to be more flexible is great, but I still have to figure out how I’m going to fit it into my new reality. A reality that involves thinking about not just one meal for my husband and I, but 3; one that involves keeping curfew times in mind when considering going out for a walk; one that has to take in consideration the limited supply of fresh produce to our small local supermarket.
I also have to think about how I will be allocating my time throughout the day. I’m in the middle of a Master’s program. I’ve got a few freelance writing tasks lined up. Of course I’m leading the Worldwide Warriors team. The list goes on – which actually surprises me as I sit here typing this because I didn’t actually realize how much I still had going on.
In any case, all this really means is that I need to set aside a bit of time and come up with a general plan.
This morning, I started creating a general target list for the start of the Whole Life Journey. I still have to specify details for the nutrition portion, but for now I’ve allocated a meal planning time which should set me up for the week.
So, that’s my general plan. I like that it’s not too rigid or detailed as I feel like that gives me the flexibility to succeed and feel accomplished at the end of the day. Plus, I know that if there’s a target that I don’t hit, it’ll be okay. I just have to try again the next day.
This attitude of progress over perfection and the commitment to keep trying no matter what the ‘score’ is something that I have always promoted through the Worldwide Warriors team. If that’s a philosophy that resonates with you, then please do join us – we’d love to have you. You can join us via this link.
In the meantime, here are a few points you might find helpful as you work to create some sort of routine that works for you.