Back To Routine: How I Overcome Procrastination

Going back to routine after quitting my job made me realize I was caught in the web of permanent procrastination for the last six months!

Going back to routine after quitting my job made me realize I was caught in the web of permanent procrastination for the last six months!

Three years ago, I gave up my career as a corporate trainer to become a full-time writer. The first few days at home were spent in the euphoria of breaking free from the jet-setting corporate life. The days wore on.

Weeks stealthily crept into months. I woke up every morning brimming with the largesse of time, telling myself I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Months later I realized that I had been caught unawares – while I was looking the other way, euphoria had settled into inertia.

I became sedimented without daily plan

The writing desk, for whom I had made this major decision of quitting the active corporate life, lay forlorn and as vacant as my mind. Since my inner script continued to tell me that I had plenty of time to do things, I did not turn up regularly at my desk, and therefore, did not string even a single line of words. I lived in a web of permanent procrastination.

Ironically, while I pursued my career, I snatched pieces of time from here and there, at airport lounges, in hotel rooms, and accomplished chunks of writing. But now, with the weight of time pressing me down, I succumbed to boredom.

Senseless time spent scrolling down the social media screen, spending extraordinarily long hours in the kitchen cooking and eating, allowing myself to get sucked into the addictive lanes of online shopping, lying awake at nights thinking of all the things I will eventually do, waking up with bags under my eyes. Until, I dreaded waking up.

I felt uprooted

What was I missing? I deliberated, and it dawned on me like a flash of lightning that I was missing a routine.

For over 20 years, I had set a routine for every phase of my life. Why was I not setting one now? I had a routine as a freshly minted cub reporter, living away from family in a working women’s hostel. I set a new routine when I was elevated to the post of a feature writer for a renowned publication, and I took a course alongside my work. With every new phase of life, my routines changed.

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As a young wife. As a young mother. As a company owner. I grew as a person, I enhanced my skills through more learning, and I travelled far and wide. Yet, the habit of setting a routine stayed with me. I evolved and so did my routines – they became more versatile, giving me the space to experiment and experience new opportunities.

Again I picked my planner and went back to routine

So, in a moment of epiphany six months into my retirement from the corporate world, I welcomed routine back into my life. I bought myself a spacious planner. Before retiring to bed each night, I wrote down my routine for the next day.

Fast-forward to now, over two years from that significant day. At the risk of sounding immodest, I am what I am today because of my routines.

And I am quite much. I am a writer with a self-imposed deadline of getting out one book a year (two of my books have already made their way into the living rooms of discerning readers, the third one is on the anvil), a homemaker, founder of Kathaasis – a creative writing workshop, a daughter caring for aged parents, a yoga practitioner, a walking enthusiast, an avid traveller, a hungry reader, and an experimental baker. Of course, an engaged wife and mother, too.

I am able to do all of these only because I stick to a structured routine — early wake-up, meditation, chanting, yoga, fixing breakfast, writing, going for a walk, Wordle, reading, evening coffee with parents, social media time, OTT, and catching up with friends and family.

A few friends scoff at my structured routines. How confining, they say.

Coming back to routine made me realize they are comforting, not confining

Confining? No, routines are freeing, and even comforting. In the worst and most trying times of my life, my routines have helped with my sanity. Routines have freed me of the paralysis of analysis.

The routine of fixing a weekly menu, setting out clothes for occasions, and a to-do list have freed me of the small decisions like what to eat, what to wear, and when to do what. I move from one task to the other seamlessly, and at the end of the day get a lot accomplished with the least stress.

During the six months of my son’s chemotherapy, I held on to my sanity and mental wellbeing only because of my routines. Instead of breaking into smithereens and collapsing as a nervous wreck, I continued my yoga, my meditation, my chants, my walks, I even completed writing the first draft of my novel, Prisoners of Secrets. What my son saw every morning at the hospital was a stable and calm mother.

I am grateful that I learned early on that to get things done, it is important to fence in the vast wilderness of time. To tame it. To make it work for me. To ward off the detractors who say routines are limiting, boring and lack spontaneity, here’s another thing.

Having a routine helps spontaneity

If you plan the routine things, you leave immense scope for spontaneity. You have to try it to believe it. And who has said that our routine has to look the same every week?

It’s like pottery. To create differently shaped pots, you need to first have abundant clay, and the wheel. Routines are like the clay and the wheel. Once the routine is in place, you are free to create what you want.

There are days when we feel rudderless. What to do? Where to go? Now what? Or, we wallow in anxious inertia and watch the world go by whilst wishful thinking consumes our hearts. Routines help us get through such days. They keep us rooted— so strongly, so steadily— that we can swing our branches far and wide, and touch new horizons.

Routines are natural

It is in keeping with nature to live by routines. Sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset, waves, spring, summer, winter, rain, snow — every one of these has a routine. As along as they follow the routine, everything seems alright.

Are you afraid going back to routine will set monotony?

Routines are made up of moments. Structured moments. I often shake up my routine. I wheel the moments around to make room for grander moments to kill the monotony that threatens to creep up on me.

I plug in a Netflix show into my afternoon routine. A glass of wine with dinner. A coffee with a friend. I gift myself a spa every fortnight. A Sunday brunch routine with different groups of friends or family. The possibilities are endless. I emerge from my routine feeling more settled.

What’s more? Family and friends look at me through new lenses. They see me enjoying more, living life to the fullest, and my cup of joy overflowing.

When we don’t design our own routine, life has one for us anyway. But be prepared that what gets handed down can often be dull and gloomy. You want momentum? Then fix your own routine. You want purpose? You want to wake up looking forward to something every morning? Then fix your own routine.

As Lou Barlow says, “Look for magic in the daily routine”.

How did I go back to routine formation?

  • I decide: what I want in my routine. Exercise? Walk? Reading time?
  • I start small: with one or two items for a week or two.
  • I set a time: and try to stick to the same time every day.
  • I prepare: if it’s a morning walk I want to start off with, it helps me when I lay out my walking attire the previous night.

When does a routine become a ritual?

I remember reading these beautiful words somewhere – when you attach significance and meaning to a routine, it becomes a ritual.

When I recall how much of my routine is now my ritual, I cannot help but smile in gratitude. I am forever indebted to my rituals for my mental and physical wellbeing.

A parting thought: “Schedules (routines) are meant to HELP, not HINDER. Create them with your lifestyle in mind” – Chrissy Halton.

Image source: Syda Productions, free on CanvaPro

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About the Author

Lata Gwalani

I am a writer and I love to play the narrator of human experiences, transporting readers to a place where the lives of strong people with endearing flaws entwine in equally intriguing plots and landscapes. read more...

6 Posts | 2,876 Views

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