Finding Your Routine Again: A Guide Back to Your Better Self

At the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S., I was traveling back from Colombia nervous about what was happening here. I had received a call that we were now working from home and our state was in a stay-at-home order. I didn’t realize it then, but I was about to confront a lot of change at once. Over the years, I’ve realized that I’m a person that thrives off a routine. I enjoy running early in the mornings, meal prepping each Sunday and reading before bed. How was I going to maintain my regular structure during these uncertain times?

While a routine might be boring for some people, we all have habits throughout the day that keep us organized, whether it’s brushing our teeth in the morning or doing our work in a way that makes sense to us. Our routines can enable the best version of ourselves to accomplish all of the things on our to-lists.

Accepting Changes

Change can be uncomfortable. It is the moment between old and new where you feel slightly uneasy. The moment right before a big move or the feeling right before starting a new job. For a few weeks, I saw the quarantine as temporary. I didn’t accept that I had to make a longer adjustment to my routine. I was walking less a day due to the stay-at-home order, and I found myself going to bed much later than usual. It wasn’t until I made the conscious decision to accept this big change that things started to fall back into place.

Guide for Finding Your Routine Again

Start with your morning.
Mornings can set your day up for success. There are a lot of ways to establish healthy morning habits. The GovLoop article “15 Tips to Establish a Morning Routine” shares a few ideas. I like to start my mornings with an outdoor run, a 10-minute yoga stretch, a cup of coffee and a podcast. Start your mornings with something you really enjoy.

Change up your space.
Sometimes change requires a little more change. While working from home sounded great, I had to evolve from working from my bed to finding a small spot in my apartment that I could designate as an office. Been thinking of changing up your kitchen or workspace? Do it. You might be inspired to create a new routine along the way.

Keep a habit tracker.
People will make time for what is important to them. Whenever I’m experimenting with new habits, I like to write them down on a habit tracker for the month. I’ve added meditating, stretching and journaling to make them stick in my daily routine. Habit trackers are a good way to keep yourself accountable. You can keep a physical journal or find an app on your phone.

Find what works best for you.
There will never be a one-size-fits-all routine. Allow yourself to experiment and accept failure as a sign that maybe that particular thing doesn’t work for you. While I love running, I know people who would much rather bike or walk instead. Allow yourself the freedom to test out habits until they become something you look forward to.

Maribel Castañeda currently serves at the pleasure of Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam as the Director of Appointments in the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office. She facilitates the appointment process for over 300 state boards and commissions or about 800 appointments each year. She bridges communication between constituents, state agencies, Governor’s Cabinet and organizations who want to share a voice in their government. Her vision is to have each board and commission reflect the Virginia that exists today. Maribel also serves as the Director of Latino Outreach connecting the Hispanic and Latino community to resources and services.

You may also be interested in GovLoop’s 15 Tips to Establish a Morning Routine and 23 Leadership Habits of Successful Government Employees.

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Avatar photo Nicole Blake Johnson

Great post, Maribel. This resonates with me. The mindset shift from change being temporary to being a new way of living is huge. “It wasn’t until I made the conscious decision to accept this big change that things started to fall back into place.”<< This is key!