Ken Corr

Keeping a Schedule to Fight Anxiety

Today is my first day to office from home.  We now have 4 adults officing in the same home.  Life has certainly shifted for all of us in many ways.  We are enjoying each other, but there are some challenges to being at home all the time, all day.

In a recent post, I gave 10 suggestions for maintaining mental health while quarantined at home (see www.kenacorr.com).  The first suggestion that I gave is to maintain a schedule.  The reason that it is listed first is because I believe it is the most important.  One of the things that I enjoy most about vacations and holidays is that I don’t have a schedule.  That is great for a vacation, but what if the vacation begins to extend beyond a few days.  Because we may be facing an extended time at home, a schedule will be critical to staying emotionally and mentally healthy.

What will this look like?  Let me make a few suggestions.

1.      Use an alarm and get up at the same time every day.  This morning, I was tempted to sleep in.  But I set my alarm and got up on time.  I did adjust the alarm for an additional 30 minutes of sleep since I did not have to allow for the commute, but other than that, I plan to keep the same schedule for each workday.

2.      Get dressed like you are going to work.  It is tempting to stay in your pjs and robe, but it is best if you go ahead and dress for work.   This morning, I made a conscious decision about which shoes I would wear today.  These are small decisions, but they will make a difference over time.

3.      Keep your morning routine.  Denise and my morning routine includes coffee time.  On days that we are both off from work, we have “lingering” coffee, meaning that since we don’t have anywhere to go, we can enjoy our coffee longer.  However, today, I left coffee time after our usual time and walked down the hall to my office, just like I was going to work. I will save lingering coffee for my off days.

4.      Keep your usual work schedule.  I like to begin my workday with a daily quiet time.  I use the daily lectionary for my Bible reading (http://satucket.com/lectionary/) and then catch up with email.  I followed that same pattern this morning.  I was tempted to spend time reading the news, but I resisted because that is not my usual routine.

5.      Break for your normal lunch hour.  Working from home, I have to avoid the temptation of snacking all morning.  After all, the kitchen is about 10 feet away from the desk on which I am typing this article.  I have to remind myself that if I was in my normal office routine, I would wait for lunch, even if hungry.  (It is now 11:00 a.m. and I did allow myself to get an extra cup of coffee a few minutes ago to tide me over until lunch).

6.      At the end of the day, stop working at your normal time and shift into being in an “at home mode.”  For example, I have an old pair of jeans that I like to put on when I get home from work.  Denise will not allow me to wear them in public since they are pretty worn.  But at the end of today, I will put on my old jeans, as if I was coming home from the office.

7.      My usual schedule is to leave the office and go to the gym.  Since my gym is now closed, I will invite the family on a daily walk after work.  It is not the same as going to the gym, but it will have to do for now.

8.      Finally, at the end of the day, go to bed on time.  After all, you have an alarm that will awaken you for work tomorrow.

If I can keep this schedule, I will be better able to manage these difficult days while officing at home.

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