Creating structure and routine makes me feel mentally grounded, which in turn makes me feel more energized.

By Gretchen Kast

I have been working from home since long before the pandemic began – which meant that, in some ways, I was better prepared for this new normal we’re now living in. But, even still, many of my previous WFH habits have been uprooted. While I used to frequent my neighborhood library and local coffeeshops throughout the work day, I now have to rely on the trek from my desk to the kitchen table for a change of scenery.

Throughout all of this, I have been reminded over and over again that I thrive on organization and structure. Those trips to the library were about more than just shaking things up: they allowed me to break up my day into more clear-cut blocks of time. It also meant I had to plan ahead, figure out which tasks I wanted to accomplish and make sure I had all the necessary tools and resources to do so.

In the absence of these external triggers, I’ve had to make more of an effort to maintain such structure. These days, my daily routine has become all the more essential to me. And it starts well before I dive into my email. Now I wake up, do some yoga, listen to NPR while unloading the dishwasher. I make myself some breakfast, then sit and eat it while working on a crossword puzzle. Once I’ve finished eating, I take a few moments to tidy up my desk and write out a new To Do List. Then my work day can officially begin.

While it may seem a little finicky, this morning routine helps establish a sense of organized calm that fuels me throughout the rest of my day.

Sometimes, when my inbox is overflowing or the weather is looking especially gloomy, it can be tricky to maintain these habits. It happens from time to time and, in truth, it’s not the end of the world. It is possible for me to get through my tasks without all of this structure—my day doesnt come to a crashing halt if I deviate from it. But even if I can technically accomplish all that I need to, I find myself significantly more drained by the end of the day.

Creating structure and routine makes me feel mentally grounded, which in turn makes me feel more energized. I accomplish more and stress less. This has always been true, even during normal non-quarantine times, but it has become a real priority now. With all of the worry and uncertainty going on around us, it’s important to find the things that make life feel a little bit more manageable and under control.

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