How to Keep a Normal Daily Routine
There was nothing normal about the year 2020, and 2021 looks to be more of the same. That’s why it’s more important than ever to maintain a normal daily routine. Whether you’re working from home, helping your children with remote learning, or dealing with economic disruption in your household, you still need to protect your well-being. That begins with building up healthy habits in your life. In his “Ultimate Guide to Becoming Your Best Self,” Chris Winfield explains, “Establishing a positive daily routine is both a self-investment and a way to do your best for the rest of the world.”
But how do you refocus in these uncertain times and bring stability back into your life? Here are a few simple steps to build a (new) normal daily routine.
1. Go to Bed and Wake Up at the Same Time Each Day
Consistent and adequate sleep is the foundation of your health. It’s no wonder that sleep should also be the cornerstone of your daily routine. By going to bed at the same time each day, you can begin to create a stable and consistent schedule. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule primes your body for sleep and makes it easier for you to wake up at the same time each morning. In an article for Very Well Health, Dr. Brandon Peters explains that waking up at the same time each day will improve your alertness and brighten your mood, among many other benefits. It also anchors your circadian rhythm, helping your body shift to a daily schedule.
2. Write Out a Daily Schedule
What do you actually want to accomplish during the day? It will be easy to get off track or to let goals fall through the cracks if you don’t capture them and keep them front of mind. To build your daily routine, write down your day’s tasks, and include time domains for each activity.
Writing out a schedule may seem restrictive, but it’s actually the opposite. By clearly listing what you want to accomplish, you can give each activity adequate time and focus, lessening your stress during the day. You can also ensure that you don’t put too much on your plate.
If you’re really struggling to build a daily routine, don’t shy away from adding simple tasks to your schedule. Even listing, “Brush my teeth” or “Take a shower” can prompt you to build up those good habits. It also feels so good to cross accomplishments off the list. Check out Zapier’s guide to the 11 best to-do list apps to get you started.
3. Create Consistent Meal Times
Try to eat your meals at the same time each day. This may sound obvious, but many people have a habit of skipping breakfast, grabbing a late lunch, or holding off on dinner until they’re starving. Eating inconsistently will throw off your body’s natural rhythms and make it more likely that you’ll make poor eating decisions. For example, if you decide to grab dinner late at night when your stomach is grumbling, you’re more likely to hit up the local fast-food place or throw a frozen meal into the microwave.
Instead, plan your meals and focus on eating healthy, nutritious foods. It’s a great idea to pre-make your meals or to buy ingredients for fast, healthy, and simple-to-assemble meals. (Learn more about the essential foods you should always stock in your kitchen.) Don’t forget to add small, healthy snacks to your eating schedule. Snacks will keep your hunger at bay between meals and help you manage your blood sugar, so you don’t binge later.
4. Take Regular Breaks
It’s easy to feel burned out or adrift in these current times. Whether you’re working from home or in an office, take regular breaks from your work. This is time to rest your eyes and your mind so that you can refocus and be more productive during your working time. The key to making the most of your breaks is to take structured breaks. Give yourself 10 or 15 minutes to relax and then get back to work. Don’t let unstructured breaks spiral into social media binges.
Many workers use the Pomodoro Technique to improve their productivity. The technique involves focused work sprints followed by short breaks to recharge. This can be a great option for working parents with children at home. Want to give the Pomodoro Technique a try? Here are 10 Pomodoro timer apps recommended by Zapier.
5. Exercise Regularly
If there was ever a “magic bullet” for health and wellness, it would be exercise. Adding regular exercise into your life can help you control your weight, prevent lifestyle diseases, boost your immune system, and help you combat stress and anxiety, among many other benefits.
If you’ve been meaning to get back to the gym or have been struggling to exercise regularly, there’s no time like the present to start. One of the best ways to build the habit of exercise is to schedule exercise sessions on the same days and during the same times each week. Put your exercise sessions into your calendar and treat them like you would any other important meeting.
It can be helpful to exercise first thing in the morning or just after work before you get pulled into other life activities. Start by committing to exercise two or three times per week for 30 to 60 minutes. Sign up at a local gym or try some of the many at-home workouts available.
6. Be Flexible
In the time of COVID-19, nothing is for sure. Adopt the mindset that you can handle anything that comes your way, whether that’s a child returning home from college, a job disruption, or even a promotion (who says everything has to be bad?).
Do your best to build positive and healthy habits into your life, but also be ready to revise and adapt your schedule when necessary. (Here are 10 effective tips for a healthier life.) Clinging to your old routine or just giving up on a routine altogether are different sides of the same coin. They won’t work. You can survive and thrive in this new normal as long as you build a flexible and positive daily routine.