Portrait of Tammy Strobel

It may only be a distant memory now, but remember I used to be quite proud of my morning routine. I would be awakened by the soft light of my table lamp switching itself on at a pre-programmed time, brush my teeth, do some light exercises, and check my calendar and tasks for the day. Then I’d shower and get ready.

It’s a far cry from the slapdash approach I take these days. Now, my routine – if you could even call it that – consists of simply rolling out of bed and stumbling the nine or ten sleepy steps to my dining table, where my laptop awaits.

Is the same thing happening to you? A morning routine used to be as necessary as breathing. But with the suspension of normality that is the workfrom-home situation, it seems that not only have physical boundaries been blurred; time boundaries have ceased to exist as well. One’s day is no longer neatly divided into segments – morning emails, lunch break, afternoon meetings, commute home – and with that, we now get to govern our day instead of having it govern us.

So that begs the question: do we really need that morning routine for maximum productivity, or is it just something we do to feel in control? I once read an article that detailed the morning routines of CEOs. They would get up at 4 in the morning, do a 5km run, drink a green smoothie, and catch up on the news before going to the office. It sounded like a superhuman effort, but perhaps it wasn’t purely productivity-centered – perhaps it was a way for them to carve out time for themselves that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Looking back, I now realise that my own morning routine did something similar for me: it allowed me to establish some form of control, and therefore peace of mind. The more packed my days became, the more elaborate my routine, as though it were a solemn pre-war ritual where I dressed myself up in mental armor and prepared to face the day. Perhaps it was the same for you too.

But maybe that level of detail is no longer necessary, now that the work-from-home situation has given us back some control over our schedule and allowed us to have more time for ourselves and family.

Instead, we can elect to keep the habits that truly help us – like meditation and exercise – and save time on the ones that don’t. In a way, this disruption has helped us to question the way of life we have always taken for granted, and helped us to be more mindful of what we do on a daily basis.

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