My pre lockdown routine looked something like this.
The alarm goes off.
Repeat for half an hour. Dash out of bed and downstairs to turn on the kettle. Shower as quickly as possible to keep the heat in the pot. Waste some household energy by boiling the kettle again, but at least I’d save a good 30seconds on the tea making part of my day.
Check email to make sure that nothing came in the night before that didn’t need to be replied to immediately on pain of my life falling apart. Check all social channels in case a life-altering follow on Twitter had emerged; maybe this was the morning that somebody recognised my greatness.
Coffee time, the same thing. I boil the kettle twice so I could be a saving savvy entrepreneur and squeeze another meaningful task in between the water heating up and being ready.
I find no time to read, no time to reflect, not any time to chat in the kitchen, must do as many things as possible, must stay busy, because?
There is no because. This frantic schedule served no other purpose than to convince me that I was busy. God knows how many days and weeks I passed in this way. All that time, I was fooling myself into believing that a full schedule (no matter how meaningless) could in some way mean quality output.
The blogs, the content, the stories carried on, but they were crammed into scheduled slots built around an empire of “time-saving” activity but what was I saving time for? Now I have plenty.
Last week I stopped to catch my breath and question this constant sense of rushing about.
I’m one of the fortunate in the world right now. I have my partner and my puppy, and we even get along. I feel bad for anyone in a ‘War oF The Roses’ scenario right now; though maybe also that could change for the better with a bit quieter. I’m a writer, so most of my output takes place at home anyway.
However, no one can escape the feeling of the lockdown. Radio is 24–7 on the subject, the numbers change, the fake news, the good news. It’s hard to ignore.
But with this slowdown in the economy, in business, in diary dates comes a feeling of relief and opportunity to check in with ourselves and what really matters in life, the present. The old routine is proving to be more naked than the emperor with his new gown made of air.
This week my routine has slowed right down and with it has come a feeling of calm and priority.
There’s no need to rush about anymore. I’ve rearranged my to-do list with my personal priorities, and where there’s a disruption, there’s just a disruption. I haven’t had that pent up frustration I had with myself a few weeks ago.
I’m here, in the now, aware of the dangers but existing alongside them.
Here are the questions I’m now asking myself as I work through my day and stop to find the value amongst the quiet.
What’s Really Important
What’s really important now? What’s causing the internal noise for you? What’s causing you to rush?
Maybe it’s a good reason like your health or helping someone out, but in my case, it was an old habit hang-up.
I had to revisit a few things:
What’s remarkable about getting to my desk by 9 am. Nothing.
What’s more critical, checking Facebook or taking a walk in the sunshine with my boyfriend and puppy?
What’s more important, starting my blog now or calling a friend in need?
What’s Causing Stress
There’s plenty to be causing you to stress with the virus and the economy, but what’s the one thing you can do to alleviate that stress.
If you have health or shopping issues, you could message a friend. We’re all not only willing to help others at the moment but yearning for it because it reminds us of what can be so beautiful about humanity.
If money is worrying, you spend a morning going through your economic situation. What salary do you have? What do you have going out? There are trillions of articles on Medium about making money.
The golden resource that we all have is time; time to brainstorm solutions to your stress by getting rid of the rushing about and settling into quieter and more relaxed mind space.
Whether or not you have the solution in one setting the very act of you taking control of your situation will start to ease anxiety floods.
There’s a lot we can do right now that needs reflection and action but worrying about things out of our control will make you worse.
What’s Causing Joy
I think you’ll find there’s a link between doing the actions that are on your important list and what’s making you happy at the moment.
Joyful activities will be someone you’ve helped, the walk with the dog, the kitchen banter — all of the beautiful things in the now that you’re doing instead of futile rushing.
Write them down and save them for the step below.
I bet there are also things in your stress list that you can flip on their head and creating your solution will bring you happiness.
Now with a list of the things that bring you happiness and job, the list of potential solutions to your stresses and a clear diary for the week you can revisit your schedule and fill it full of value activities.
But remember, no rushing.
I know we’re in strange times, but that’s outside of our control. In the words of Gandalf, ‘all we have to do is to decide what we do with the time that is given to us.’