Routine or going with the flow …what’s working for you? By Catriona Cookson

Last week I wrote about some handy advice I’d seen written by a chap called Jon Bailey – @SloopJontyB, who had spent long periods of time in a submarine while he was in the Royal Navy. Each week I’m going to take a look at one of the topics he addressed – the first one is routine, this is what he said:

ROUTINE: Life at sea is dictated by shifts and routines. You can tell what day it was by what was for dinner. Make a routine now, test it then write it down & stick to it. Divide your day up in to work (if home working) rest, exercise, meals, hobbies, etc. Do the same for kids.”

When we started working from home the message from the Directors at BLT was clear – “Do what works for you”. For some people that may be starting work very early or some may have a longer break in the middle of the day, or there may be children to consider so we have a huge amount of flexibility. I am sure everyone drifted through the first few days trying to make sense of it all. The increased restrictions came into place on the 23rd March just after I had read Jon’s post, so it seemed a good time to think of routine.

After years and years of living my life to the clock, of having to do things and be places at certain times, I thought I might welcome some real flexibility. But no, I know (if I didn’t know it already)…I like routine and structure, and at a time like this it makes me feel safe. And so over the last ten days I have developed a routine and stuck to it……

  • I have lunch at 1pm every day.
  • I have a tea break at 3pm and a biscuit (because that’s what we do at BLT in the office)
  • I switch off the laptop at the end of the day.
  • I cook every night , no batch cooking at the moment, as there is something very comforting about moving into the next phase of the day and preparing a meal.
  • I work four days in the week, on two of those I run at the start of the day , and on the other two I walk at the end of the day.
  • And what to do on a Tuesday, when I’m not working?.Normally I’d be out for a quick run and then off for a long walk or to a museum or gallery with a friend. So now Tuesdays are a longer run, the day for the supermarket trip as it now takes some time, and some “sorting out” one cupboard at a time.
  • I watch no news after the early evening on any device.
  • Before I go to bed, I get the yoga mat out. Sometimes I do an online session (Yoga with Adriene is very good), sometimes I practise some of the postures I can’t do very well and sometimes I just lie on the floor and breathe and listen to the old tunes on Mellow Magic.
  • And then there’s the weekend ….I run on a Saturday and Sunday morning usually so I’m keeping that going, although I miss the company of my Sunday morning running group. And the rest of the time, well last weekend I spent in the garden making a start after the wet winter, and there are several online screenings available of opera, theatre, ballet so I’m planning to catch up on them sometime soon.

And it feels better ……..there is routine, structure and boundaries. Crucially within the routine there is some choice ……shall I run or walk today? shall I watch tv or call a friend / family this evening?….. and where there is choice there is an element of control and that at this time is definitely very welcome!


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