So it’s safe to say, at the time of writing this post on (checks laptop calendar as all the days are blurring into one never-ending blob at the moment) Tuesday 7th April (what! April! How did that happen!?!) the world is in a strange place. I won’t go on about it too much, but the covid-19 pandemic has sent changes around the world. Where I live in London, England, we are in a lockdown. We have to stay at home except for a few essential reasons like getting groceries as infrequently as possible, and exercising away from other people outside our household. Two months ago, if you’d told me this would be the current situation, I probably would have laughed. We all would have, but look how much can change in a short space of time. Along with this world-shift (there are lock-downs across the world right now) comes a lot of anxiety. We aren’t built for change as a species, we’re resistant to it, and fearful of it. But change has come, and we must do our best to deal with it, and if possible adapt to it. Now of course if all you’re able to do right now is survive, that is enough. Waking up, managing to eat something, and trying to get a little fresh air, even if only from a window, is an achievement, especially during a crisis. But I, being the perfectionist that I am know I need to do a bit more work in order to keep some sense of ‘normalcy’ in all this.
Now I know things aren’t normal. I know that trying to carry on as if they are is a surefire way to get burned out, overwhelmed, and also probably break the social distancing rules. So what should we do? Adapt! I’ll admit, over the past weekend I’ve fallen prey to the ‘oh-my-god-this-is-terrifying-and-I-can’t-do-anything’ feelings. My waking up early went out the window. All of my hard work to build healthy routines slipped. I stayed in my pjs and sulked a bit. But not any more. I know that I needed a bit of time to process things and allow my brain to rest. Now though, I’m determined to get back to my routines. So, with the encouragement of my wonderful fiance, I set about doing a little reset.
Being the perfectionist that I am, I know I need to do a bit more work in order to keep some sense of ‘normalcy’ in all this.
So what is a reset?
Simply put, it’s taking steps to help you get back on track. It will look different for everyone, but for me it involves the following:
Get my planner out
It’s no secret that I love planners so my first step is to go through my planner. I flip to the current month and write a new to-do list, leaving behind any old ones which have been hanging around unfinished for a while. This is a mix of chores, activities to do, routines, and fun things.
My list for April:
- Bake 2 things
- Read ‘The Happiness Project‘ by Gretchen Rubin
- Do the 30 day yoga challenge from Yoga with Kassandra
- Video/call 3 friends to keep in touch
- Go for a run or do a home workout
- Complete the ‘Live Your Balance’ challenge (I started it but didn’t stick…)
- Do something nice (at home obv!) to celebrate 3 years with M!
This list is an overview for the month, and I haven’t been too specific, as I want to leave room for flexibility and the inevitable ebbs and flow of energy. After I’ve done my month list, I turn to my weekly planner. I set an intention for the week. This week’s is I’m in love with life – thanks to Kassandra for the inspiration! Then I write out my morning routine for the week. As I was slipping a bit last week, I’ve pared down and refocused my morning routine into the following:
- Drink water
- Read a few pages of The Happiness Project
These habits help me to feel centred, positive, and ready to tackle the day ahead. I know from experience that I feel much better all day when I wake up early and take that time for myself in the morning, so in this time of uncertainty and turmoil, I’m prioritising this.
Once I’ve written my morning routine I pencil in activities and tasks for the week. Usually I would have work shifts to add in, as well as some commitments outside of home like coffee with a friend, or going to the cinema with M. Obviously right now none of that is happening, so my planner was looking pretty empty. So I wrote a master list of things to do during lockdown, which I pick a few from each week to give me some goals to work on. I plan these into specific days, but not specific times, and give myself the space to move them around if I need to. This week’s goals are:
- Bake something
- Call a friend
- Write a blog post
- Go for a long (social distancing) walk
- Do a workout or run
Put my phone away
The next thing to do is help myself actually get started. Especially right now, when the news is constantly updating on the situation, and everyone has advice and anecdotes from their experience of it all, it’s easy to get stuck on Twitter and other social media. While it’s good to stay connected, especially as we’re all having to socially distance from our friends and loved ones, we also need to make sure we’re not using it as an excuse to ignore our own world. It feels scary to put in the work, but it pays off. A small, simple step to help me focus on my own goals and plans instead of scrolling through everyone else’s reactions is to simply put my phone on the other side of the room!
Pick one task
It’s important to get started, and something which can trip me up is being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. So I pick one task to do first. I tell myself that the other things I want to do are all written down, and I will have time to do them later. Then I get started. Something which often helps me is using the Pomodoro Technique so I work for a specific block of time, then take a short break, rinse and repeat. I find especially when easing back into productivity after a period of not doing much, having those small chunks helps you feel up to the tasks, as they’re broken into small pieces instead of one big, intimidating task.
Reward, reflect, and refocus
It’s important to have time for relaxing and self-care. So after I’ve completed an activity I give myself a small reward, which could be anything from a snack to watching an episode of a show (either on my own or with M). Then I look at how I’ve done so far with my day, tick off the things I’ve done, and decide on my next task. Sometimes something took me longer than expected, so I know I won’t be able to fit in everything else I’d planned for the day. That’s ok, I can rejig and move some things to a later date. Other times, I may be lucky and have some spare time, so I can get a quick chore done, or spend more time on something else on my list. It’s just as important to evaluate how you’re doing as it is to plan in the first place. A plan with no room for flexibility is a plan to fail, so adjusting and adapting as you go can be the difference between getting most of your to-dos done, or doing only 1 or 2 then giving up because it hasn’t gone the way you initially planned out.
Remember there’s no such thing as perfect
It’s really easy, especially for a perfectionist like me, to get caught up in wanting to do everything and to do it all right. But the truth is, we’re never going to be able to do everything we ever wanted to do, or have a hundred percent focus on our goals all the time. There will be slip ups, and distractions, and unexpected curve balls that throw us off course (like a worldwide pandemic!) and that’s ok. Done is better than perfect, and a step in the right direction is something to be celebrated. I know those are cliches, but they became cliched for a reason!
Done is better than perfect, and a step in the right direction is something to be celebrated.
How are you resetting and adapting to the current situation? Do you have any tips or anything you’re struggling with? Let me know in the comments or over on Twitter.