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How to Balance Your Time & Create A New Normal

It’s time we shifted our balance and created a new schedule for ourselves.

I think we can all agree that balancing our time before the quarantine was overwhelming.

Between work, the gym, a social life, and personal time, it was almost impossible to fit in everything you needed to accomplish daily (let alone find time to sleep a solid eight hours Monday through Friday). During the quarantine, time seems to be just a construct (as they say). But instead of hopelessly and aimlessly searching for ways to fill our schedule, let’s use this extra time by filling our days with mindful and nostalgic activities. It’s time we shifted our balance and created a new schedule for ourselves.

Much of the world is locked in their homes, limited by their time outside, and (unless they have an essential job function) have updated their commute to the walk between their bedroom and the kitchen table. There’s no manual on how to live out your days outside of your normal routine when the world has seemingly stopped functioning. And, for many of us, working remotely is a completely new territory.  So, with all of this extra “time” what should you do?

In this article from Psychology Today, Dr. Scheff provides examples of what happens when we escape our routines. He describes a vacation he took with his wife, where they ended up driving six hours home rather than flying, and he finds himself angry on the first day. Dr. Scheff quickly realizes that he’s outside of his comfort zone since there is no routine. There was no small talk to be had about work, household chores, or what new TV they want to watch. All they had were each other and the open road.

Our bodies and minds become so accustomed to certain habits that it becomes difficult to separate ourselves from what we once knew. Before we jump into a new schedule, it’s critical that you take a moment to allow yourself to adapt to this new normal. Below are some tips on how to adjust, find balance, and re-incorporate healthy habits into your daily routine.

Take time to reconnect with yourself

It’s probably been a while since you simply allowed yourself to be a human being. Think about it. When was the last time you had all this extra time to actually cook your meals or clean your closet? Take time to enjoy the simplicity of your life, however foreign it may feel. In today’s digital world, we are often overstimulated and overworked. Now, we have a reason (and the space) to truly pause and reconnect with ourselves. And you may even find yourself having enough time to sleep eight hours every night (or more!) which is a blessing that anyone who can should be taking advantage of. 

I recommend having a morning and an evening activity that will allow you to reconnect with yourself. And actually block off this time on your calendar for consistency! Seriously, put “me-time” on your schedule—unapologetically. Not sure how to get started? I suggest you try practicing yoga, meditating, or journaling to get you started. 

Evaluate your habits and create new, analog ones

Example of an old habit: Working every day straight through lunch and only taking breaks to message friends or check Instagram for a couple of minutes of distraction.

Example of a new habit: Completing one task at a time and taking a 10-20 minute break to work on a puzzle or another mindful activity to reset your mind.

From home, you have the advantage of using a multitude of analog activities in between tasks. Whereas, in the office, breaks are most often taken on your phone or your computer. For me, having the ability to focus on analog activities that I’ve been missing, like coloring or doodling, has been amazing for my creativity and my state of mind.

Now, it’s your turn. Take stock of the activities you have in your apartment or house. Any dusty board games in the closet? Arts and crafts? Friendship bracelet string? I also hear paint by numbers is a hit these days. Make it a point of working on your activity of choice a couple of times a day. I recommend setting aside time in the morning and in the afternoon. Once the weekend hits, you have as much time as you want to play! Plus, did you know that having hobbies has been proven to help people be happier and experience lower levels of anxiety? Let’s make playtime the newest wellness trend.  

Make the most of the space you have

I’m currently quarantining with four other people. We quickly got accustomed to our new lifestyle, and we have the added benefit of keeping each other accountable. Every weekend, we organize our meals for the week and make a shopping list together. Every evening, we either play board games or watch the occasional movie or show. We all also have our designated work stations as well, which helps us keep work and play separate in the house. 

I recommend finding an area of the house that you can focus on your work or projects that is separate from your area of leisure. If you’re in a tiny apartment, even choosing the kitchen table vs. the couch can make a huge difference. For a further example, studies have even shown that it’s not productive to work from bed and it decreases sleep quality. Your brain will begin to equate those areas as the designated stations you’ve chosen them for—making it easy to switch into certain activities. Plus, make sure you also have a sacred space you can turn to in your home for when you feel anxious or just need to chill out.

As we begin to adjust to our new normal, it may feel strange to not work on something and just lounge around the house with nowhere to go. But know that you’re not in this alone and that FOMO is effectively canceled. So, be kind to yourself. Evaluate what you need every day and know that it’s okay to still have those days of binge-watching TV, but it should be seen as a treat rather than a part of your daily routine. Remember also to nourish your body, mind, and soul–and perhaps explore new ways of doing so that you didn’t have time to before.

And, during all of this, don’t forget to leave time to connect with loved ones and, most importantly, with yourself.

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