How I’ve Been Finding Routine & Motivation

…and the goals app that I’ve actually kept up with.

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Mark and I have been in lockdown for around the two month point by now and even though we both work from home and so not much has changed in our daily set-up, like all of us across the globe, our weekly routine has been lobbed out the window with no chance of knocking on the front door to be let back in anytime soon. The quote that has been doing the rounds on the ol’ web – ‘You are not working from home; you are at home during a crisis trying to work‘ – has been *speaking to me* and I thought I’d check in with my thoughts, as it’s been two months since my ‘Working From Home’ advice post and BOY have things changed round here (well, not hugely, but I found myself talking to my friends about the excitement of rubbish bin collection day, so it’s the little things – you know?). If you’re in need of a re-jig with your current routine or at-home working set-up and would like a few pointers on where to seek out motivation when it’s hiding out under the covers,  or fancy a look at my updated daily schedule, then I’ve got you…

KEEP THE STRUCTURE. What are the cornerstones of your week/month that you can still incorporate into your routine that make you feel good and settled and maybe even a little more zen? For me that’s a Monday morning meeting. I do love a Monday – even though they aren’t hitting like they used to right now, but that’s cooooool – and I like to sit down, review the past week, look at what went well, what I can improve on and what I need to do over the next week. I always used to rush past this step and just crack on, but with a little more time on my hands it’s feels like it’s a chance to pause, breathe and reflect a little more than I usually do. It sounds like something you’d read in an employee handbook, but it’s working for me. I might be setting my alarm a little later each day, sacking off workouts and finishing up earlier than I usually do on the odd occasion – I’m trying to be flexible *said through gritted teeth like a true Virgo* – but the Monday morning meetings? They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

BEING REALISTIC. This one is a biggie. I’m a big believer in not making exhaustive page-long to-do lists to get through each day, but now more than ever we need to be realistic about what we can get done in a day given the constraints we’re currently under. I mean I wrote a book about productivity, yet I often get to the end of the week and have already shifted some tasks to the following week – but last week I managed to tick everything off and it felt like a big achievement!!! At the beginning of the week I didn’t feel like I was giving myself enough to do, but you know what? It was just the right amount and that’s the lesson here. IT’S A WEIRD TIME. It’s 100% ok and understandable if you don’t feel able to operate to your full, usual capacity. I set myself three-to-five tasks to do each day, put more errand-based activities on the right hand side of my planner to tick off throughout the week – done, tick, you’ve made it to Friday. GO YOU!

FINDING MOTIVATION. LOLZ. Hahaha, motivation, huh? What an elusive thing right now. It’s a tricky one with motivation because I feel like we all have our own finely tuned, personal mechanisms for when we’re trying to recapture it and of course there are the classics; take a break, get some fresh air if you can, give yourself a timed break and come back to the task you were doing, make a list and start with the easiest thing first, make a list and start with the hardest thing first – I apply all of these methods at some point over a month-long period, often with varying degrees of success. If all else fails I shift my focus from work-related motivation, to wellbeing-related motivation and get stuck in to my Habit app. I’ve used it since the beginning of the year and track various different goals on there – from whether I’ve had a meat-free day, to whether I’ve read that day, worked-out, or completed all the rings on my Apple Watch. I have six habits that I track in total and if I’m in a work funk, then I try to scrape *something* out of my day and put my focus onto my habits. Can I make it a six tick day? Sometimes that energy feeds into motivation to also get through my to-do list, and sometimes it doesn’t, but hey – at least I feel like I’m doing something. If you fancy more motivation chat, I spoke to my mate Emma Guns on her podcast, as part of her ‘Feel Good Habits’ series and if it’s not live yet, it will be up soon – keep an eye out for it.

CUTTING MYSELF SOME SLACK. Not only does my mind start to slowly implode if I think about current events for too long (personally I’ve found cutting back on my news consumption to be extremely helpful when it comes to my mental health), but as someone who feels most content when they feel like they are operating at full productivity, it’s been a real learning curve to be ok with low-energy days and doing less. At moments like this I come back to the quote I shared above – ‘You are not working from home; you are at home during a crisis trying to work‘. I am extremely grateful and lucky to be in the position that I am during this moment in time, but there’s not one person who hasn’t been affected by this in some way. There is a lot less work on for me when it comes to the advertorial side of things which is completely understandable, so my current workload is smaller than usual. Although I try to fill these slots with extra pieces of content for you guys – like my ‘Something For The Weekend’ IGTVs, posts and playlists, there are ultimately times when I’m not feel creative or ‘on it‘ and I might finish the day up a lot earlier than I usually would, or maybe I don’t sit down at my laptop till late morning. It’s hard not to feel guilty or put pressure on myself in these moments, but I’m trying to cut myself some slack. This is temporary, I am so fortunate and it’s ok to take it easier (if I tell myself this on repeat it will eventually kick in, right?!).

REGULAR SOCIAL SLOTS. We have twice weekly film clubs with our friends and it not only is often the highlight of my week, but it gives us some well-needed structure. On a Thursday and Sunday night we sit and chat on FaceTime for a bit, then press play on the same film at the same time in our respective homes, then chat again afterwards to give our scores on the doors, taking it it turns to each pick the chosen film. In the past two months we’ve watched 14 films together and as someone who had previously watched about two films a year for the entirety of my life so far, that is a big deal!!!! We’ve watched some crackers (and some flops), but not only does it mean we get to regularly touch base with our mates, it’s expanding my extremely small film repertoire, which was mostly taken up by all the Shrek films.


7:00AM – Alarm goes off and I sit in bed and scroll on my phone #KeepingItReal

8:00-9:00AM – Eat breakfast, shower and get ready for the day

9:00AM-12:00PM – Morning work session. I start by clearing out my inbox and then focusing on higher priority tasks

12:00PM-1:00PM – Break for lunch

1:00PM-4:30PM – Afternoon work session, focusing on tasks that don’t take as much brain power

4:30PM-6:00PM – I use this as my activity slot; either doing an online Barre, Pilates or Yoga class and then going for a walk round the block if I fancy it.

6:00PM onwards – Evening routine; making and eating dinner, reading, watching TV and movies or listening to podcasts, catching up with other tasks and hobbies

Photos by Mark Newton