A recent lesson in the Alive Time Stoic challenge was about creating a daily schedule and sticking to it. And through that effort, enable a routine’s benefits by committing a schedule, fended times/blocks of what/when, to paper.
Like children who respond well to boundaries, adults too can benefit from daily routines. For anyone chasing a creative endeavor, you innately know it’s all about consistency through daily practice. Scheduling time for writing, or sketching, or reading creates an expectation and anticipation for your mind to shift into focus on these activities at these moments.
“We are what we repeatedly do, therefore excellence is not an act but a habit.”
In a recent a blog post, I wrote “Routine is the right-hand enemy of fear and anxiety….” A scheduled day keeps us distracted and helps avoid falling down that sticky, darkness-lined media rabbit hole, or other places intent on spinning imaginations to undesirable places while addicting us to the adrenaline rush. When this happens to me, I quietly, in my mind, slowly step several times through these three Zen foundation stones:
In this very moment, there is nothing to worry about.
In this very moment, nothing is lacking.
In this very moment, there is always something to be grateful for.
An introvert’s ease in embracing habits and routines is one reason we can more easily handle this current, at-home isolation better than extroverts. Those of us comfortable going inward find comfort in solitude, and intellectual or creative pursuits. These things we routinely did anyway before becoming “official” shut-ins. Extroverts seem to relish more serendipity, external entertainment, and social interaction freedom. To an introvert, too much of that becomes chaos and confusion. That’s why introverts, who’ve mastered controlling a mental on/off switch, can occasionally act like an extrovert, look forward to retreating to our trusted cocoons to recharge and reset.
In times like these, it’s likely valuable to not just state intentions, but schedule them, make an appointment. Spread your day’s tasks out in a planner and make specific time blocks. At day’s end, review and congratulate yourself on what you accomplished (but don’t beat yourself up about misses), then plan what you’ll do tomorrow. Scheduling activities will probably increase what you accomplish in less time, and avoid distractions. When we exit these abnormal days, making positive progress through routine habits could be our new norm.