29 Oct

routines and rituals

Recently, I had a discussion with a friend who was finding it difficult to switch her brain off and go to sleep. I told her she needed to create a bedtime ritual to set up a series of signals to her brain that it was time to checkout of the day.

This morning, I’m feeling pretty rough after my own battle to sleep last night. It took me ages to get to sleep, and I woke up at 4.30am and couldn’t get back to sleep again. I’m an eight hours a night girl. If I don’t get my eight hours, my brain doesn’t work at full speed and I feel like I’ve got a hangover – queasy and vagued out. Last night I would have been lucky to get five hours.

And I realised this morning that I really should take my own advice, and create some rituals and routines for myself. I’ve blogged about the lack of routine that comes with working from home. Work tends to bleed all over the rest of your life and it’s tempting to stay up late to push through something when you’re on a roll, knowing you can sleep in the next day. Additionally, the fact you don’t have to blow dry your hair, put on makeup, construct an outfit, and drive to an office means the morning routine of getting up, getting ready having breakfast, and leaving home disappears.

This morning I stumbled on James Hayton’s blog The Painless PhD (found via this interesting article on The Conversation about how isolating the PhD process can be) and I read his post about how he wrote a PhD thesis in three months. Appealing post title, particularly because I’ve got roughly two and a half months to write mine! The post presents the 10 ‘secrets’ to taking a leaf our of Hayton’s leaf and writing your thesis fast. Tip number seven talks about the importance of routine.

So I feel like the universe is speaking to me right now about routines and rituals: a conversation last night; some self insight on the topic this morning; and a blog post coming across my path… They do say things happen in threes.

I did have a bit of a morning routine going on for a while at the beginning of my sabbatical, but I’ve let it slide. I am also utterly inconsistent about wrapping up my work at the end of the day – I tend to just keep going til I’m exhausted, starving, or just completely over it. And I blame Breaking Bad for wreaking havoc on my bed time routine – I’ve been glued to the TV for several weeks, watching all five seasons. (So close to the end. Such compelling viewing! I’ve gone from feeling sorry for / kinda liking Walter to absolutely despising him in a flash – like a switch flicked off at the beginning of season five… Anyway, I digress.) So this morning I’m taking 15 minutes to rethink how I do things.

I really want to nail this because I think having routines will help me to work more efficiently and manage my energy level, but I know it will take time to make these routines a habit. In particular, I know it will be difficult to make end of the day and bed time rituals stick because there is always that temptation to keep on working at knock off time, which can blow out the bed time ritual as well.

So I’m looking for things I could include in these rituals to send my brain signals that it’s time to get going, time to knock off, and time to check out. Any ideas?

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