HOW TO GET BACK INTO A WORK ROUTINE
Updated: Sep 8, 2020
It's September and for most parents that means their kids are going back to school. Everyone is slowly diving back into their regular routine. But what about those of us who don't have kids?
I still believe in the whole back to school spirit for myself. After summer, I always get this buzz of energy and the urge to get things done and be productive. That's why September is also called Entrepreneurial New Years.
I do have to admit that it's not the easiest to get back into the routine that I've worked so hard on establishing. If you feel the same, I have collected my most valuable advice for you:
I am a firm believer of the idea that goal setting should not be underestimated. Now is the perfect time to sit down and plan out the next four months of this year. I have to admit that I feel that with everything going on this year, I have fallen off the wagon for some of the goals that I set at the beginning of this year so I've decided that for the time that's left for 2020, I am going to set some new goals.
But why set goals in the first place?
1. Goals help you visual your ideal life and help you focus
What do you want out of life? Without knowing your goals, it is hard to visualize where you're headed. Goals are a practical and visual framework that help you steer your life in the direction you it to head in.
2. Goals allow you to measure progress
How do you know if you're making any steps towards your goals if you're not measuring your progress? Only by setting goals will you be able to notice the subtle changes in yourself. It is so important for humans to feel that they are growing and progressing. Having a fixed endpoint or benchmark (aka your goals) to measure your progress against provides you with just that.
The hardest part is setting goals where you actually feel like you're getting somewhere. We often set goals that seem too far away and too unachievable. It is important to break these goals apart into smaller, more manageable chunks. So first off, sit own and just do a brain dump of all the things you want to achieve over the next 4 months. Then think about how you are going to achieve these goals. Here's an example of what that could look like:
PLANNING OUT YOUR DAY
I always plan my days. Some people don't and that is absolutely fine too. However, I have found that especially after the summer, when you are trying to get back into a routine, it is helpful to have a rhythm to follow. I don't believe in me telling you when to get up, when to start work and when to stop working. This is highly individual and depends on our unique energy levels.
Let’s be honest – we all wish we had an infinite amount of energy to get us through the day. But we do not unfortunately. We have specific peak times during the day where our energy levels spike. That might be the morning for you or even late at night. And then we have times during the day where we reach for our phones every 30 seconds, hoping that social media can distract us from the task at hand.
For the next week, track your key productivity times when you:
1) Feel that the state of flow is readily accessible to you
2) Cannot be bothered to stop chatting with your coworker or do not want to get off the couch
By the end of this week, you will have gained an understanding of your most and least productive times of day. My ideal work day looks like this:
6 AM – 10 AM:
Most productive time of the time, you feel like you can focus the most.
This time is sacred and you should be protective of it. Do not let others control your day for you. Turn off email and phone notifications, put your headphones on and focus on high-priority tasks that require a lot of brainpower.
11 AM – 1 PM:
Since you were so focused during the morning, there should be a break somewhere in this timeframe. It is entirely up to you how long of a break you take (if your job allows that). Again, listen to your body!
2PM – 5PM:
The afternoon low – what the hell keeps me focused?
For this time of the day, you have to get a little creative. I would suggest you either focus on tasks that do not require a lot of focus, like responding to emails or other mindless tasks. Or you pick something that you genuinely enjoy doing and that keeps you going.
5PM – 8PM:
Time to wind down!
During this time, most of us are leaving work. I myself am not able to focus on important tasks during this time, so I focus my time on tasks that set me up for success for the next day – running errands like grocery shopping, doing laundry or prepping your lunch.
Again - this is not supposed to tell you to follow this exact routine. It rather shows you how to deal with productive and unproductive times throughout the day.
This might not be for everyone. Journaling is a highly personal thing and some of us just don't see the value in it. And that is totally okay! However, if you do believe in sitting down and making a few notes about how you feel, what you want to achieve or simply what you're grateful for, then this is for you.
I journal every morning and every night. You can do the same or just do one or the other. Some people like free flow writing like steam of consciousness whereas I prefer follow journaling prompts. These are the ones that I am currently focusing on:
3 things I am grateful for
3 things I achieved today/am proud of
3 goals for the day
When you sit down to do your journaling, I would suggest you do it in your favourite space in your home. That could be on your couch, on the floor, in your bed, at your kitchen table or wherever you feel content. Turn off all distractions and really focus und take this time for yourself.
I would also urge you to choose handwriting over typing when you’re journaling. If you really can’t be bothered to write by hand, then typing is obviously fine! However, there are significant benefits of writing by hand!
Handwriting in itself is a complex task that requires a variety of skills – feeling the pen and paper and basically directing movement by thought (isn’t that so cool?!).
When writing down your thoughts through typing, you can change it as much is you like without there being a record. With handwriting, it’s all there and it stays there. You can cross out words and entire sentences but you can’t remove them. It’s all a visual and tactile reminder of your thoughts and what you were going through when writing them down.
Lastly, drawing each letter by hand substantially improves subsequent recognition, which is exactly what we want with journaling! We want you to take those words and internalize them, be proud of your progress, for you to process and accept your challenges and for the thoughts to guide you to each new day.