It has now been about a month since my internship pulled us from our hospital rotations. At first, I didn’t really know what to do with myself. While I had things I knew I needed to get done, I found it extremely difficult to accomplish anything without a set schedule. After a week of basically doing nothing and feeling like a potato, I decided I needed to make a plan.
So I made a set of guidelines for myself about how I would spend my workdays, Monday through Friday. Here is a general list of the guidelines I set for myself:
- Workout every morning before starting work
- Get dressed and ready every morning as if going to work
- Start working at 9 am
- Have a set workspace (my desk) and do not work anywhere else
- Make sure workspace is clean and free of distractions
- Any eating must be done in the kitchen, away from the workspace
- Put phone away in a drawer during working hours
- Take 5 minute breaks every hour
- Stop working at 5 pm and put work stuff away
I also made a list of things that I consider to be “work tasks” and decided that I would not deviate from these tasks between 9 am and 5 pm, unless I was taking a scheduled break. Personally, having set rules for myself really motivates me. So that first Monday, I was really excited to get started.
In this post, I’m going to briefly explain how I used these guidelines and created a weekday schedule. I’ve been following these guidelines for almost a month now and I feel like I’ve found a routine that really works for me! Maybe there are certain things in here that can work for you too! If you’re thinking of trying any of this, feel free to modify based on your own personal schedule and time frame.
7:30 am: Workout
Having a consistent workout schedule is something I’ve really struggled with this year because of my internship. Every 2 weeks, we switch rotation sites, and usually our in-time varies based on where we are. This made it difficult to wake up at the same time every morning and get into a set routine. I was a few weeks into a good system of waking up at 5:30 and running at the gym in my building when COVID-19 really took off. I was pulled from the hospital and my gym closed. This really discouraged me, because I had finally found a way to be consistent and now I didn’t even have access to a gym.
Fortunately, the weather started getting warmer and I was able to transition to outdoor runs. I also discovered The Sculpt Society, which is an online program that offers various workout videos to do from home. It’s kinda pricey (at least for a college student), at $19.99 per month. But after doing the 2 week free trial, I decided that the cost was well worth it, especially since I’m currently unable to go to the gym. They offer videos that work various parts of the body, as well as cardio classes. That’s something I’ve really enjoyed doing on days that it’s too chilly or rainy to run outside.
I’m a morning person, so I’ve always done my workouts in the morning. Doing this really wakes me up and makes me feel ready to take on the day. To be honest, this quarantine has actually been really great as far as solidifying my workout regimen. I’m much more consistent because I have the extra time in the morning without having to commute. I’m finally able to find a good mix of cardio and resistance training that works for me.
8:30 am: Get Dressed & Ready for the Day
One of the things that made that first week of working from home so awful was the fact that I basically just wore sweats, a baggy t-shirt, and no makeup every single day. Dressing like this really discouraged me from getting work done. It doesn’t really make sense, but for some reason putting on semi-professional clothes in the morning always makes me so much more productive throughout the day. Being too comfortable makes me want to curl up in bed and watch tv, rather than tackle my to-do list. Being slightly less comfortable during the day is a small reminder that says, hey, don’t forget you’re at work right now. Plus I just feel better when I put effort into what I’m wearing, even if I’m not leaving my apartment.
Once I’m done with my workout, I’ll go about my normal morning routine of getting ready. I’ll take a shower, get dressed, put on makeup, do my hair, and maybe do some journaling before sitting down to start my work day.
9 am: Sit Down & Get to Work
At 9 am, I need to be completely dressed and ready so I can start my work day. I made a rule for myself that I absolutely cannot do work from my bed. I’m a huge napper and I’ve discovered that I will take a nap if I am in my bed for too long. So I always sit at my desk.
I put my phone in a drawer, clear my desk so it is free of distractions, and make a to-do list. (I’m a to-do list fanatic…) Whenever I get something done, I check the box next to it. This helps me to feel like I’ve really accomplished something. The more things I check off, the more motivated I become to check more and more things off the list.
I take scheduled 5 minute breaks after 50 minutes of work time and start back again at the beginning of each hour. This gives my brain a chance to step back and reset before jumping back into what I was doing, and keeps me motivated to continue working so I don’t get burnt out.
12 pm: Take a Break for Lunch
I am definitely not one of those people who can just work through the whole day and forget to eat. I always eat several small meals throughout the day. So around noon during my work day, I’ll leave my desk and head into the kitchen for some food. I really try not to do anything else while I’m eating so I can focus solely on my food and be mindful about when I’m full. It also helps me to simply enjoy my food more when I’m focusing on my meal and not being distracted by other things. I give myself around 45 minutes for lunch, which gives me time to get something ready (though I won’t cook a huge, time-consuming meal unless it’s already prepped), enjoy my food at a relaxed pace, and clean up.
12:45 pm: Back to Work
After a nice relaxed lunch break, I feel refreshed when I get back to my desk and I’m able to tackle the rest of the day. I’ll continue with my scheduled 5 minute breaks every hour to keep the momentum going until I get to 5 pm. When I’m working, I’ll usually try to prioritize tasks based on when they need to be finished. For me, my work tasks right now involve doing class assignments, listening to lectures, taking online quizzes, writing papers, organizing presentations, working on supplemental internship hours, and writing blog posts. I definitely have plenty of things to keep me busy, and I’ve found that sticking to this schedule has really helped me to accomplish them.
5 pm: Put Work Stuff Away For the Day
A lot of the time, especially if I haven’t had a productive day, I want to get work done at night. That’s why keeping myself going throughout the day is important, because I’ll feel ready to stop at 5 pm and call it a day. After working hard all day, I feel like I’ve earned some relaxation time, and I don’t feel guilty if I decide to watch tv, journal, read, or facetime friends in the evening. This way, the next morning, my brain is rested, refreshed, and ready to take on another productive day.
Overall, I’ve really enjoyed having the opportunity to work from home for an extended period of time. It’s been a really rewarding experience for me. While I don’t know if I could do it full time, it’s been nice to adapt and figure out a routine that works well for me. It’s also just been amazing to have that extra time in the morning and evening, without having to commute to and from work. I’ve had the opportunity to consistently work out, journal, and develop other habits that I’ve always wanted to do.
While I know this pandemic is a trying time for everyone, I encourage you to take advantage of your new circumstances. Your confinement may actually be your ticket to freedom! Think of those things that you’ve always wanted to do, but just haven’t been able to fit it into your schedule. Is it something you can do from home or while social distancing? If so, try to incorporate it into your daily routine! You might surprise yourself and come out on the other side of this an improved version of yourself.