Updated: Jun 18
Staying at home is a must, and this is no secret. Although some have to take care of groceries, families and households, others find themselves with a lot of extra time in their hands. Even though I’m a student and I could find extra reading material for the classes I attend, I still have to figure out how to fill the rest of the day. However, while this issue is particularly stressed at this moment in history, we need to reclaim our time and make the most of what life gives us. In this article I will discuss how I maintain focus and motivation throughout the week, and what I do to keep myself occupied.
We live hectic lives and we never stop. We are not used to silence and idleness anymore. We need constant external stimuli and we feel void without them. These are just some problems I can point out from today’s society. And before you think I’m here to preach, I can assure you I’m not. I have found myself described by those statements and I’m not afraid of saying it. When I’m in the UK, I spend most of my days by myself at the desk, without human interaction. The first thing I do in the morning is to plug my headphones in and start listening to music. I would lie if I told you I don’t hate silence, the only constant presence in my room.
During my lockdown period in Italy, I spent the first couple of days thinking I could keep up my routine from Southampton. So many variables came in the equation after a while. The general situation was getting worse by the day, and I couldn’t stomach the news. Hearing what was going on in the world was taking a bigger toll than I expected on my physical and mental health. I think it took me a week to realise I was going through a rabbit hole and I needed to stop myself. So I began planning my daily life.
How to organise a healthy schedule
When it comes to filling the hours of the day, I’m an expert. I’ve always enjoyed spending time inside. As a child, I used to play by myself almost every day, so I’ve become independent of others in finding something that could keep me busy. I carried this feature into adulthood, and I always find a new enterprise to stimulate my mind. For people who are more focused on brain activities, boredom is the actual enemy. If I get bored, it’s the end. Consequently, I’m on the look for novel challenges and ways to get more knowledgeable.
Enthusiasm can be low. We are flooded by grave news and it becomes more and more difficult to concentrate on what makes us feel good. So I implemented a daily schedule, so I can feel rewarded whenever I complete one of my tasks. I would recommend everyone who’s struggling to keep their spirits high to sit at their desks and stop for a second.
Get a piece of paper and a pen;
Write all of those activities that you must complete. In my case, I need to revise the lectures for my Uni modules. For others, the major concern might be buying groceries, cleaning the house or taking care of children. No matter what the priorities for you are, write them down first;
Jot down your hobbies and recreational occupations. Everything that makes you happier. It can be reading a book, cooking, writing, listening to music, taking care of your skin, etc. If it makes you happy, this is the place to add it to the list.
Now that you’ve figured out the points above, here is my tip: allow the mornings for the activities with the highest priority and leave the afternoon for everything else. I know people are having trouble with organising the day-to-day routine.
Before you leave your desk, I want to encourage you to do something else. Now that you have your mind set on the tasks you need to complete, take a calendar – if you don’t own one, you can download it from the internet or draw it yourself – and assign each day a prime concern. Look at the list you just compiled and decide what you will do on a specific day. Using my schedule as an example, I assigned a lecture to study on each day of the week. As revising is my priority, it’s the first thing I do in the morning. Once that’s out of the way, I can concentrate on other things. This allows me to keep on with Uni work and to feel I have accomplished something I had set before. In change, leaving the rest of the day for more enjoyable activities that you can consider as a reward for the effort you put in completing your priority task.
My daily schedule
Hoping to motivate those of you out there who struggle to cope, I’ll tell you how my typical routine is. It’s nothing complicated, but I found it gives me purpose and keeps my mind busy. Use it as a template and make all the adjustments you require for your own needs.
9-10 am: I wake up. The best choice would be to have a regular waking time, way earlier than mine. I suffer from insomnia and sometimes I need a little extra time in bed. I have breakfast and I spend time just talking with my parents and thinking about what we will do. We share the activities we plan on doing, which helps us to concentrate on them.
10-11:30 am: I get dressed and start studying. I have planned to revise one lecture per day, so I don’t stress too much. I already talked about this in my article on mental health. My preference is to not overburden myself with academic work, as it is not necessary at this point and I already had most of my lecture notes done before the term ended. After completing the lecture, I plan for the following day.
11:30-1:30 pm: While I wait for lunch to be ready, I check my social media and the website. I have already planned what to write, so I continue what I have been doing. Otherwise, I set up a new article. If I have to record the podcast, I prepare a short script of the focal points and I refine it. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing and I go check on what my parents are doing. I often end up helping them on their tasks, so they can do them quicker. This would be an excellent time to work out, but I prefer intellectual activities more than sweating around. I’m lazy with this. If I had to choose which area to improve in my routine, this would be it.
1:30-2:30 pm: I have lunch and coffee, then I help clean up the dishes. We take time for this, as we enjoy sitting together and spend time at the table.
2:30-7:30 pm: During this part of the day, I focus on my hobbies. If I didn’t finish writing a new blog post, I carry on with that; if I have to start a fresh one, I research what I’d like to talk about. Once every two weeks I record, edit and publish a recent episode of my podcast. Alternatively, I study on Coursera (link), a website I will discuss in the next article. Sometimes I read for a couple of hours or I just roam on the internet. I am working on an extra writing project, so I often study how to do a better job at it. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing. The most important thing is that I concentrate on those activities that make me happy.
7:30pm- bedtime: After I have dinner, I spend time with my family again. I call my grandma and chat for an hour with her. My mom and I are into Anne with an “E”, a Netflix show based on the novels of L.M. Montgomery, so we watch a couple of episodes. Otherwise, we enjoy YouTube videos on science, animals and lifestyle. The key aspect of this time of the day is to relax. Having a good sleep is one of the most important factors, especially during stressful times. Therefore, relaxing before falling asleep helps with getting rid of all the tension accumulated during the day.
When I’m writing this article, the world is going through the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Although this occurrence is taking everyone’s attention, I’d like you to step away from the news for a while and concentrate on your daily life. I’ve heard so many people complaining about having nothing to do while stuck inside, and this is the reason I wrote this article and the one that will follow.
The key to make the most of the current situation is to sit and plan. If you follow my guide, you will start a healthy routine that will be useful now and when this is all over. Even though we can’t make assumptions about the future, we can make today better. I hope that everyone will find their way to cope and get fulfilment from the simple activities in life. Reach out to me if you want to talk about this in more depth. Stay tuned for the next article where I will discuss the top resources I’m using to keep myself occupied.