Some people thrive under routine whilst others loathe the thought of planning out their day. However, having a routine can greatly improve your health; routines support cognitive function and are associated with improved sleep and reduced stress. Tasks that are completed regularly become habitual, requiring less cognitive processing power. Research has built on this to show that, those with regular working habits demonstrate increased focus and creativity during more complex tasks.
With many of us now engaging with hybrid working, it may be even more important to create a routine as isolation and lack of a normal working schedule can be mentally taxing. Working routines have been massively disrupted by the pandemic and many of us will have been forced to adapt or remove some habits that were previously important aspects of our routine. These may be positive changes, but it is important to reflect on whether or not this is the case.
Think of typical morning routines before the pandemic; your working outfits, your usual way to work, picking up a coffee on the way or casual conversations with colleagues. The reasoning behind developing routines goes beyond productivity. These small habits contribute to feelings of happiness and safety which are foundations for good mental health. If there are parts of your pre-pandemic working routine that you feel are missing currently, how can you mitigate the impact of these changes?
If you feel you now have fewer opportunities to learn from others, perhaps you could listen to a podcast as part of your early morning routine. If you used to check your emails whilst you waited in line for a coffee, have you gained time commuting that could be used to scope out your day before properly starting up your computer. If you miss the extra steps you’d get from walking up the office stairs, perhaps you could incorporate a leisurely lunch time walk into your new routine. There are so many smaller aspects of your day which can easily be overlooked but are a huge part of having a healthy routine.
To develop your own routine, start by making a list and writing down all of the things you normally do on a working day. Observe which things on your list are essential to make time for and if there are certain times at which items must be completed. Not every item in your list must be subject to strict time constraints and for some tasks, it may be more appropriate for them to be part of your weekly routine rather than daily. It is also important to figure out what works for you, you may prefer a highly structured routine with tasks split in to colour coded time blocks or you may just prefer a general list of tasks for the day. Whatever way works for you, remember that the aim of creating a routine is to alleviate cognitive stress so it’s no help to beat yourself up over tasks which have not been achieved!
There are many benefits to developing a routine. When we perform tasks regularly they will become habits and require less cognitive processing power to complete. We all have an abundance of things we would like to achieve throughout the day and with a routine it is easier to ensure that nothing gets left behind.