Adding structure

(Image by Michael Gaida from Pixabay)

My self-isolation was over on Saturday and I tested negative on Sunday. So we nipped out for the first time in almost two weeks to get some food for the garden birds and to visit family.

(The dog and cat also got a new basket each!)

Although I worked for most of the time that I was poorly, I didn’t beat myself up if I was late with anything or if I just wanted a rest. At the weekend, I had a massive rest. I also did some thinking.

Since the first lockdown, my self-discipline has really slipped. To the point that I might be up by 10am if I was lucky, or by 11am if I couldn’t be bothered. This has not helped either my workload or my health (mental and physical). I piled on weight and I tire or bore easily.

Giving this some thought over the weekend, I realised that what I needed was a stricter structure. And I worked out how to divide up my day.

This is the plan, at least… it’s up to you if you take out a book on whether I manage it or not.

8am to 9am

Starting from today, I’m getting up and having breakfast at 8am. Also, while the kettle boils, I’m feeding the animals and emptying the dishwasher. I might also put a wash through or, like today, I’ll boil my eggs and cook my pasta for the week’s dinners (lunches) (both ‘free’).

Then, at around 8:45am, after I’m dressed and everything, I’m walking to work. Yup, I’m taking the dog out of the back door, walking for 5 minutes out, walking for 5 minutes back, and coming in through the front door.

I’m not going to change out of my outdoor trousers (aka jeans) until I get back home after work.

Now, I’ve always been one who can’t work if I’m in my pyjamas. I don’t know why, but if I’m not dressed, then I don’t feel as though I’m working. However, I have been wearing sloppy leggings or yoga pants. Now I’m leaving my outdoor trousers on.

9am to 10am

The first hour of the day is my new ‘social hour’. This is when I check emails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. I don’t do it before I get up. I don’t do it over breakfast. I do it when I’m at my desk. And I don’t return to it until the following day.

This one is really important. Otherwise I end up checking social media throughout the day and often disappear down a rabbit hole.

10am to 1:15pm

From 10 o’clock until a quarter-past one, I’ll work on my work. This includes the blog, diary work, the gig list, and any admin I have to do, such as finance or making appointments.

It also includes my own writing work and it might include a faff-half-hour, just so I get the faff out of my system and, more importantly, I allow myself to do it. (i.e. Play with book covers.)

This used to be three hours, but there’s an extra 15 minutes in here because…

11:30am to 11:45am

Coffee time!

I’ll leave my office for this and go to the ‘canteen’ (aka the kitchen).

While the kettle boils, it will also be time to do things like dog poo patrol in the garden, or change the cat litter, or hang out a load of washing, or any other household chore I can fit into this slot.

1:15pm to 1:45pm

Dinner time!

Again, I’ll leave my office for this and go to the ‘canteen’, where there’s also a table to sit at.

At the moment I’m still eating salads, and they take time to prepare. As the weather gets cooler, though, and salads go out of season, it’s going to be jacket potatoes or soups. No sandwiches or toast, though.

The diet I’m on doesn’t allow for cereal for breakfast and bread for dinner, unless I count one of them. But it’s working, so I’m not going to change things just yet.

1:45pm to 5pm

The afternoons are always client time. I’ll have three full hours to dedicate to between one and three clients at a time, depending on workload and scheduling, etc. If I don’t have any client work in (rare), then I get extra time on my own work (bonus!).

This week, I have three clients to fit in for Monday and Wednesday and two for Thursday and Friday. I’d normally do the same on a Tuesday, but this week I have a half-day holiday on Tuesday.

Usually, if I have a hospital, doctor, vet or dental appointment, I’d work right up to the last minute, go for the appointment, plan to work when I get back, and then beat myself up if I don’t work when I get back. This time, I’m doing what a regular employee would do. I’m taking half a day.

Client time used to be 2pm – 5pm, but there’s an extra 15 minutes in here because…

3:15pm to 3:30pm

Tea time!

Once more, I’ll leave my office for this and go to the ‘canteen’.

While the kettle boils, it will also be time to do things like dog poo patrol in the garden, or change the cat litter, or bring in a load of washing (if it’s outside), or any other household chore I can fit into this slot that I didn’t do during the morning slot.

5:00pm to 5:15pm

At 5pm, I’m finishing work and walking home. This time, I’m taking the dog out of the front door, walking for 5 minutes out, walking for 5 minutes back, and coming in through the back door.

Apparently, this going out of one door and coming in through another door is a good way to fool the brain into thinking you’re ‘going to work’ and ‘coming home again’. I call it ‘kidology’. Time will tell if it works or not.

Hydration

Finally, the last thing I’m doing is ensuring I have a large glass of water on my desk and two pieces of fruit. The water is to keep me hydrated (and apparently feeling fuller for longer), the fruit is to keep me going between meals so that I’m not tempted to go and get a snack. (From the ‘canteen’, of course.)

It’s still all in pencil in the diary, so not yet cast in stone. I do hope I can stick to it, though.

Wish me luck!

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