Managing routines while working from home | Advice for young people

Managing routines while working from home

Having a routine is good for our wellbeing. It creates structure in our week and gives us a sense of purpose. Routine also makes it easier to do the things that are important to us.

With schools and colleges closed, work situations changing, and physical distancing, many people are struggling with daily life feeling quite different.

We can use routine as a way to support our mental health at this time.

Sticking to what you know 

Some of us might like to keep our routine as similar as possible to our usual one. This can help things to feel more familiar and stable. Get up and go to bed at the usual times, get dressed in the mornings and keep mealtimes the same.

When studying or working from home, try to recreate what your typical schedule looks like. Do schoolwork during school hours. Remember to get up every forty minutes to stretch and walk around as you would at the end of class. If you would usually hang out with your friends at lunchtime, video chat with them while you eat.

Include the things you do for fun at the usual times in your week. You might need to be a bit creative with this if it’s not possible to do things in exactly the same way. If you usually go to football training on a Tuesday evening, go outside and kick a football around at this time. Or instead of choir practice, find some karaoke tracks online. People are using Skype and Zoom for choir practice too.

If you are trying to stick to a familiar schedule, other people in your household need to be aware. Try to negotiate your space and needs with them.

>> Watch Leona talk about managing family conflict while working from home

If you are studying or working from home right now it is important to still take days off

A new routine 

For some of us, sticking to a previous routine is not possible. Or we might prefer to come up with a new routine for this time period. Consider both the things you need and want to get done. Write out a plan if this feels helpful. Or use the calendar app on your phone. Include a mix of activities.

How to avoid procrastination

It’s kind of a paradox. When we’re busy with hectic schedules, we can motor through what we need to do like a well-oiled machine. On the flip-side, when we have more time we can find ourselves putting things off. There’s also a danger of procrastinating from doing the things we need to do right now as external pressures may have changed, or seem uncertain.

Watch: our volunteers in Meath tell us how they avoid procrastination.

Get the right mix

Aim for at least one activity each day from all of these three categories: 

1. Self-care activities

These are the things we do to look after our physical and mental health. These could be: 

Showering, getting dressed, meals, getting fresh air, getting active, talking to someone about how we’re feeling, practicing mindfulness.

Keep an eye on our Instagram for daily guided relaxation with Jigsaw Clinicians!

2. Productive activities

These are the things we are expected to do or that give us a sense of achievement. These could be:

School or college work, doing dishes, clearing out your wardrobe, learning a new skill.

If you are studying or working from home right now it is important to still take days off from that, maybe the weekends  

3. Leisure activities

These are the fun, relaxing, enjoyable things we do. These could be:

Reading, watching netflix, catching up with friends via phone or video chat, listening to music, playing Xbox, drawing – whatever floats your boat!

I make lists of what I have to get done or goals I’d like to achieve and tick them off as I complete them. This helps me to stay focused and not get overwhelmed by everything that going on.

Hannah, 21, Jigsaw volunteer, Meath

Mix it up!

Think about things you usually enjoy that you can do in a slightly different way. You could take a virtual tour of a museum or art gallery. Are there activities you used to enjoy that you’d like to get back to, or a hobby that you’ve been meaning to try? Find a Youtube tutorial and give it a go.

Not all activities will fit into just one category, it depends on what it means to you. One person might see preparing a meal as self-care, for another it would be a productive activity, giving a sense of achievement. Someone else could view it as a fun leisure activity. There is a risk of either working all the time or bingeing Netflix right now as our physical horizons are limited. Just remember to strike a balance with your days and listen to what you need to get through this.

Listen: to Jigsaw clinician Críosa talk about keeping a routine

Be flexible 

Planning your routine doesn’t mean that you have to stick to a strict timetable. There is no need to be busy 24/7 and it can be good for us to have time that is not scheduled or planned. You may find that your plan needs to change some days and that is OK. 

Be kind to yourself. If there is a day where you don’t end up following parts of your plan or if the plan goes out the window entirely. While having a routine is helpful, it is also really important that we are flexible and don’t beat ourselves up if we’re not doing everything we would like at the moment.