Fulfillment

How to revisit your routine

Scheduling tips to get back on track this fall.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted daily routines for all of us, but with many children resuming school in September and some adults returning to their workplaces while others work from home, it’s time to revisit how we ca get back on track during this unique time.

Of course, the pandemic is still happening, so getting back on track after the summer may look different than it did last September, but that’s okay. Be gentle on yourself and your family, and don’t be afraid to change things in your routine that aren’t working for you – even if they used to.

“Routines are so important to us being as efficient and balanced as possible,” says Andrea Travillian, a life coach and meditation teacher whose son just restarted school online, giving her the opportunity to reshape her routine into something more productive than what she did in the spring.

When planning your new routine, Travillian says, “I would start with what you liked in your old routine and see how you can adapt it to the new circumstances. Don’t assume it will still be as beneficial [as] before, especially if it is very different.”

For example, she says, if you used to drop the kids off at school and then go to the gym for a workout, but now you have to work out at home instead, it may not feel as emotionally helpful as it used to.

You can experiment with different routines to see what serves you best. Take a look at this sample routine, complete with lots of tips and suggestions, and consider adapting it to your own life to feel prepared for the coming school year.
 

First, some tips for success:
 

  • Don’t expect it to be perfect the first go round: “It may take a few days or even weeks to get the right one for you. It took me about a week to get one that seemed to fit our new schedule,” says Travillian.
  • Stay flexible: “This start of school won’t be as predictable as in the past,” Travillian says. “After just six days of school, I have had to deal with a power outage at our place and an internet outage for many parts of the school district.”
  • Tap into your intuition: “Does it make you feel good the morning after you stay up late streaming shows and snacking?” registered dietitian nutritionist Courtney Hager says. “Do you have the focus you need for school or work when you’re too rushed for a protein-containing breakfast? Remind yourself of that when you’re tempted to skimp on your routines!”
     

Morning
 

“Making decisions is hard mental work,” says Hager. “Ease your load by nailing down a morning and evening ritual that you do the same way every day.”

  • Wake up with your alarm: Get up at a regular time, even if you don’t have somewhere to go.
  • Morning ritual: Your morning ritual can be whatever makes you feel good, but it will help set your day up for success. Consider Hager’s suggestions of reviewing your schedule, making note of some goals or writing down what you’re thankful for. You can also make meditation, reading or a series of stretches part of your morning ritual.
  • Breakfast: This will be even easier to take care of in the mornings if you’ve set out the prep the night before. You can also consider items like overnight oats to make breakfast time a breeze.
  • Start work/school/hobbies
     

Afternoon
 

  • Workout: Scheduling your workouts is a great way to make sure you stick with them. By making them as important as an appointment or a meeting, you’re more likely to show up, whether it’s to the gym or to your living room. We’ve slotted it into the early afternoon, but if 5 a.m. is better for you or 6:30 p.m. is best, just move it around.
  • Lunch
  • Scheduled stress reducer: “I highly recommend your routine has at least one stress reducer,” Travillian says. “We will all need a bit more relaxing with the school year starting. Ideas include: meditation, journaling or yoga.”
  • Free time


Evening
 

  • Dinner
  • Family time
  • Prep breakfast: “Can you set out the utensils and dry ingredients for your breakfast the night before? What about putting the coffee pot on a timer?” Hager suggests.
  • Pack a lunch: Hager recommends packing a lunch – even if you’re working or going to school from home. “This is another way to make your decision-making easier during the day and makes you feel oh-so-good to be prepared with delicious and nourishing food.”
  • Set an alarm for the morning
  • Evening ritual: The above tasks can be part of your nighttime ritual, but you can also consider adding other things that help you wind down. “Maybe that includes reviewing your schedule, writing out goals, or reflecting on your successes and gratitude,” Hager says. You can figure out a combination of these ideas and divide them between your morning and evening rituals in whatever way suits you best.