Well well well, it’s 2021 and it feels like we’re right back where we started. Pubs are closed, alcohol in South Africa is banned, you can’t hug your friends and TikTok is STILL a thing. With the world investing in what some may call a ‘circular’ approach, COVID-19 has slingshotted us into a future past. In other words, what has actually changed in one whole year? We’re still working from home and getting intimate with our four walls. However, it’s not about resisting the monotony but learning to live with it.
Building an at-home routine during times of uncertainty gives me comfort. If I could highlight, compartmentalise and laminate my life I would. I was THAT girl in school. The one with all of the sticky notes, glossy flip folders and unnecessary file dividers. I thrive off of being organised. My dream as a child was to work in a bank or any administrative job that required me to aimlessly stamp documents, sign and file. Hopefully, I’m not alone in this and there are other people out there who share the same obsession.
In order to navigate these times where things are always changing and the PM is telling me what to do with my life, I’ve realised that setting boundaries within my home life has been crucial. Allowing time for much-needed rest, setting a schedule for work and learning as well as incorporating social time is important. Especially that last bit.
I feel as if most human interaction has been via a screen. My eyes are going to be shot by the age of 30 and at the moment I almost shed a tear when someone likes my LinkedIn posts. Like, that’s just SO nice? Can we be friends? Where are my friends? When last did I see my friends? Are my friends okay? I should phone my friends.
Some of the things I’ve incorporated to settle some sort of sanity are my versions of coping. They may not work for you, but hell, if I don’t share them then maybe you’ll never try.
I don’t set an alarm. Why? Because I have nowhere to be, duh. Alarms stress me out sometimes. And also, I get a kick out of setting one when I actually have to go to work. It’s my little way of creating a divide between the ‘home’ world and the ‘outside’ world. My body clock is pretty spot on. I wake up around 7am most mornings. It also keeps me disciplined in terms of bedtimes. Ever heard the saying ‘late to bed, late to rise?’
If you absolutely must set an alarm, I’d recommend investing in a proper alarm clock. I doubt an alarm clock requires the term ‘investing’ but with the nature of COVID-19, I know that money is tight for some. The reason I suggest this is because I don’t sleep with my phone in my room. It’s a distraction. My bedroom is my calm place and if the temptation to scroll the internet is there, best you believe I’ll be scrolling Kardashian reruns on Instagram until midnight. Don’t judge, I’m actually quite intelligent.
It’s important to set out time for movement. Notice how I didn’t say exercise? Movement means any kind of flow, walk, dance, meander, gardening or housecleaning that gets your body going. It gets the lymph fluid moving which in turn leads to a better immune system which is something we should all be focussing on right now. If you’re after a workout, here are my favourites. Pop on a podcast, whip out your yoga mat or vacuum cleaner and kick your day off with a little bit of mindless movement. I promise you, this will set the tone.
If you’re working from home, set boundaries as best you can around your working hours. I’ve noticed a huge push into unfair working conditions as companies assume employees are always available due to working from home. Newsflash: people have lives beyond work and these still continue when we are WFH. Even if it’s just popping on Bridgerton whilst shovelling down some dinner. I’ve found it’s helpful to Marie Kondo my apartment and find the spot which sparks the most joy and set up camp. By camp, I mean my ‘at-home’ office. I even have a mini cactus.
If you’re not WFH, I’d suggest finding something that will lend to your productivity. Udemy literally has courses on anything and everything for dirt cheap. I built All She Does’ website from a R200 Digital Marketing course (Udemy is always on sale, so rather wait until you buy a course full price). Think of something that interests you and invest in that knowledge bank.
Throughout the day, take breaks for a walk, move, dinner prep or a stretch. My break often includes making my 10th cup of tea and popping on some inspirational pre-teen Shawn Mendes tunes. I may be 24 but I’m still 15 at heart.
My flatmate has recently set boundaries around her social media usage. She tends to only scroll during business hours which means she’s on it less and it doesn’t interfere with her morning or evening times where meaningful contact is crucial. When work is over and you’ve finally closed Zoom after triple checking they’re not spying on you through your webcam, it’s important to wind down. For me, that’s cooking a hearty meal that’s not only going to nourish me but also bring about an element of community. Yes, two people can be called a community.
With a lack of physical touch, social interaction and even catching a smile from someone, I cannot urge you enough to make those moments at home. Even if it’s just a sit-down slice of toast dinner with your dad who doesn’t chat much or an Ottolenghi masterpiece that you and your mom have collaborated on. SIT down with them, ask them how their day was and bond. This does not only offer a mental boost but down to a biological level, it’ll make you a much happier cave(wo)man.
If watching TV is part of your evening routine, then so be it. I love watching movies. I almost cried during Soul (it’s a Disney movie – watch it!) Why not pop out a mail to your work colleagues or make an Insta-story asking people what their favourite movies are? It can be uplifting to watch something knowing it means a lot to someone else. Once again, tapping into that element of human connection which is inevitably lost behind the face masks and sanitiser.
This works for me:
These are the little things that help me get through the days that are all blurring into one. These are the things that make my at-home routine feel more productive. Times are strange and to be honest, a little bit of gratitude goes a long way. I’m not one for buying into the bullshit, but tiny habits can make a huge impact. It’s as simple as keeping a journal next to your bed and jotting down three things that made you smile that day. You’d be surprised that you’re probably not as miserable as you may think and life isn’t so bad.