Are you someone who sticks to a routine most days? Or do you just wing it, and see how the day pans out? If you do have one, how do you deal with disruptions to your routine?
I know when I am working I have some of the same tasks every day, as well as others that change. I don’t always stick to a routine, I may mix up the order of my work, but I know when I need to achieve a lot then it is best if I schedule a routine the day before.
In the modern world, most of us have some sort of set routine that helps us get through the day. Some people are very laid back when it comes to scheduling their tasks, whereas for others, it can be very frustrating to have to deal with disruptions to their plans.
Daily Routines Through Our Life
When we are children, our parents ensure our routine is set for us: school hours, homework, set mealtimes and bedtimes, and so on. Once we get to college or university our timetable relaxes, but sometimes we do as well. Unless you are really motivated, it can be tempting to skip school, party like a rock star, and avoid all routine, even when we know we shouldn’t.
Once we are old enough to start full-time employment, the nine-to-five routine might disrupt our more relaxed lifestyle that we got used to in further education. Or we may get so used to the nine to five that we have a hard time doing anything other than work during the week.
Disruptions Can Be So Disturbing To Your Routine
The main reason disruptions are so disturbing is that they are usually triggered by circumstances that we have no control over. This can make us feel trapped and resentful, because we can’t do much about what’s happened, except cope with the change as best we can.
It can also be because we are so busy we are under pressure and stress to meet a deadline. The last thing we need is someone coming to our desk to chat idly – I bet we can all think of colleagues that do that!
Even worse still, they may come to hand us an emergency project that needs to be done right away, when we had our whole day already planned out. Unwanted phone calls, the children getting sick… all of these can make us feel like we are about to explode.
Going on holiday can be wonderful, but travel, different time zones, a different bed, different food and so on, are all major disruptions to your routine. Some people hate travelling for this very reason. Before you go you work like crazy to get everything completed, sometimes staying late, and then come back from your trip to find a mountain of work that has been left for you – it’s enough to make you need another one!
So what are the best ways to cope with major disruptions to your routine? Here are a few suggestions:
Expect Interruptions At Least A Couple of Times a Day
Expect to be disrupted by colleagues a couple of times a day and you will be less stressed when they happen. If you accept they are a part of daily life, and therefore not worth getting upset about, you can re-focus pretty quickly. Your day will flow with only a blip here and there that you will hardly notice if you don’t let it upset you.
Build Breaks Into Your Day
A to-do list and calendar are essential tools for keeping to a regular routine, and getting all your work done that needs to be completed in your day. But it is important to build breaks into your schedule for two reasons. The first is of course that you can’t work all day without bathroom and food breaks, and a bit of down time. Remember it is important to get up and stretch every 45 minutes or so – and your brain needs a short rest too.
The second reason is that if we don’t schedule things in our calendars, chances are they will get forgotten and never happen. Pencil in some down time, relaxation time, and exercise, in 30-minute blocks at points through the day. If you don’t make them one day because some disaster comes up, don’t worry, it happens. If you start missing your breaks and workouts regularly, though, there’s clearly something wrong with your routine and work-life balance.
Learn To Say No
If you’re a “people pleaser” whose plate tends to get really full because you have a hard time saying no to people, just practice saying it. It’s great to be helpful to others, but not at the expense of your own work and sanity! I know several people who have realised this over the years – they are busy, but still take on more work until they become overwhelmed and stressed. And then the penny drops, often after a health scare. Don’t wait until that happens!
Try these techniques and see what a difference they make to your day. And let me know in the comments below what works for you – do you have other things you tried and you have kept doing, or maybe they didn’t work and you’ve dismissed them.