Creating Simple Habits

Since I have been living on my own, which is the same amount of time we have been living and working in these pandemic times, I have created a few simple habits that I didn’t have before. I have maintained some of the habits I had before, like waking up early and writing every day – sometimes in my blog and sometimes privately in my journal, sometimes both.

Now I realize I had habits when I wasn’t working from home, habits I miss. I used to make sure, for example, that every day before I left my office I would clear my desk and tidy my office. I filed the next day’s tasks in a file marked “today” while future tasks would be filed according to the date it needed to be done.

Why did I do that? Mostly it was so I could go home and know that I didn’t need to think about or worry about the next day’s tasks. Clearing my desk and tidying my office signified the end of the work day for me and it meant I could just go home and be with my family. It is really nice to come to work in the morning to a tidy office and a clean desk…a clean slate. A new day. I am much more productive that way.

But at home, the time between work and home life is more blurred. And I wonder if the new habits I have formed are an extension of my end of day office ritual. After all, they signify the end of one part of my day and a fresh start to the next.

Each morning after I wake up and have coffee, I write and feed my cat. Then I make my bed. I never used to. It didn’t bother me to just close the bedroom door so no one could see it. I don’t particularly like making the bed…if you saw how I toss and turn you would know why. It takes effort to make that bed every day. But I love climbing into a made bed every night. It means rest and sleep and renewal and I know I can sleep better when the bed is neat and made. Also, when I make it I know that if I accomplish nothing else that day, at least I have made my bed.

In the same way, each night before I go to bed, I empty the dishwasher and load any dishes that might be in the sink and then I wipe down the counters and sink. Again, this is not a job I enjoy, but waking up to a clean kitchen every morning brings me joy and is a wonderful start to my day.

These are simple habits, but they have made such a huge impact in my life. I still haven’t figured out how to ritualize the end of my work day. I seem to not be able to turn that off except when I have my kids. Their time is too precious to fill with work. But it would be nice to turn off my work brain at the end of day even though I also eat dinner at my desk now.

What habits have you formed during this time of change? Has the pandemic changed your routines or nudged you to create some you didn’t have before? I would love to hear about them. And if you have ideas for how to signal my brain to stop thinking as a principal at a reasonable hour, I would love to hear that too.

My friends, I hope you are staying well.

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