Working remotely | the importance of daily routines

If you don't wake up at 5 AM, exercise and build a rocket ship in the morning you suck right? Instead of forcing these kind of habits I build some routines around taking better care of myself...

Working remotely | the importance of daily routines

In the previous episode, I wrote about how I lived the comfortable dream until I realized that it wasn't a maintainable lifestyle. As Andreas pointed out (thanks Andreas!), I could give a bit more insight on how I came to the realize this.

While I was living comfortably, I started noticing some small pains. It started with my lower back having this nagging pain. Looking back it was the result of sitting in the same position for 6 to 10 hours only leaving the chair to get some food or go to the bathroom. A week before the dentist appointment I started noticing more and more things that were off like;

  • As my days got longer, my output was getting worse.
  • My lower back pain was getting worse.
  • Getting out of bed became more and more difficult.
  • Because waking up sucked, I felt sluggish throughout the day.

After I woke up before my dentist appointment, feeling like a death warmed over, I knew I had to change things. While everything seemed sunshine and rainbows, I took poor care of myself the first weeks of working remotely. I believe this was the result of not having to do certain things and routines anymore, like;

You don't have to...

  • Dress up every day, nobody is around you anyway.
  • Walk from your house to the bus and from the station to the office (and back). In my case missing out on 10K of steps (50K steps a week!).
  • Talk to that colleague that is standing beside your desk, and as a result, you mostly work every minute of the day uninterrupted.

On my way to the dentist I started to think; "What can I do about this... What can I do?". For a long time, I was trying to create "habits" because if you don't wake up at 5 AM, exercise and build a rocket ship in the morning, you suck right? So I decided, instead of forcing these kinds of habits to make some routines focusing on taking better care of myself.

If you like you can watch this great video about the difference between habits and routines.

I opted to go for two routines, which are pretty standard, a morning and before sleep routine. Two things you do every day, so the triggers are easy to remember.

Morning routine

From the moment I wake up;

  1. I walk to the bathroom and drink a big glass of water to help me wake up.
  2. Since I am already in the bathroom, I clean myself up to prevent myself from getting back in bed, so tempting.
  3. Dress up in clothes I would wear to the office.
  4. Go downstairs and greet the dog, most fun part of the morning.
  5. To stay awake, I'll brew myself a cup of coffee and make breakfast.
  6. Once I am high on caffeine and gluten, I'll go back upstairs to brush my teeth. Brushing your teeth before having coffee gives you the most horrible tasting experience ever.
  7. At this time once every other day, I hop onto my bike to go the gym.
    7.5. If I am not going to the Gym, I'll go upstairs and go through my priorities for the day.

Nothing to special right? Exactly. That's why I never fail to follow these steps every single morning. I clean up, dress up, eat and exercise before I open my laptop.

Doing this for a few weeks now, I believe, got rid of all the small pains I had. I have to wake up one and a half hour at least before I want to start my workday. I set my work schedule to be from 09:30 AM until 5:30 / 6:30 PM depending on the importance of the task I am working on. But around 6 PM I'll do my best to wrap up work because it's so tempting just to put in some more hours. .

What do I want to improve?

It's important to reflect once every two/three weeks on your routines. What can improve? Right now I am pretty satisfied with my morning routine, but there is one thing I'll like to change about it.

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I'll exercise in the gym. This means that the other 4 days of the week I'll sleep an extra hour. I'd like to change that since I am having a hard time waking up on the days that I exercise. So starting next week, I'll wake up 6:45 every morning and on none exercise days I'll go for a walk or write a blog post. If you have any ideas about how to spend those hours let me know!

Before sleep routine

My evening routine is way more straightforward than in the morning. And consists of only one activity now; brushing my teeth. Why is that so important to me? When I decide it's time to get to bed I go brush my teeth, afterward I commit not to use any devices anymore (tip; set your alarm before you go to sleep ritual). I also noticed that it has become a trigger for my body because where I usually spend a good one to two hours not being able to sleep, I am now exploring my dreams in about 5 to 10 minutes!

What do I want to improve?

It's hard to come up with anything else to do before bed. Where you can set the alarm before going to bed, so you are sure you'll have one and a half hours for your routine, I don't know what I'll do before I go to bed. Creating an hour long routine is set up for failure when you're like me and like to go out in the weekends. Taking time to brush my teeth, however, is something I can always do (even after a long night drinking). Again I am still open to any ideas!

What helped me staying consistent

Building routines are about discipline and consistency. What really helped me with sticking to my routines was downloading Productive. It enables you to keep track of thing you want to complete every day or a certain amount of times every week/month (like I want to exercise a minimum of three times a week). Be sure to enable notifications! There were many times it saved me from forgetting to brush my teeth in the morning because I was distracted. Recently I started adding reminders to drink enough water, I never felt so hydrated in my life.

There you have it! I needed routines to take better care of myself because it's easy to forget about the little things you did while working from an office.

Next week I'll write about how I keep a steady schedule. While it's tempting to work from morning till midnight it's not something you should and can do every single day.