How to Stick to a Routine During Quarantine

How to Stick to a Routine During Quarantine
Photo by Max van den Oetelaar

The last few months have been scary, overwhelming, and for many of us, full of uncertainty.

I’m not a doctor, a nurse, a paramedic, or any other form of medical professional. I recently wrote after publishing an article on how to feel less anxious about the novel coronavirus that I struggled for weeks to know what I should say on this subject, as I questioned the right that I have to jump in headfirst on a topic that, needless to say, I have little experience in.

I desperately didn’t want to add to the noise, which is why I eventually decided to focus on something that could bring a sliver of hope to this difficult time.

This time around, I’m going to focus on an area that I do know a thing or two about—routines, specifically quarantine routines. As the author of My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired, a book that I wrote in 2018 with my friend and co-author Michael Xander, routines have been at the center of everything I do for close to a decade. And like much of the world at this point, quarantining is a subject in which I have become intimately familiar.

In this article, we’re going to look at how to stick to a healthy routine during quarantine. Whether your state or country has a mandated “stay at home” order, or you’ve taken it upon yourself to self-quarantine for the sake of public health, below you will find five tips to help you keep up a quarantine routine.

How to Build a Quarantine Routine

If you already had a daily routine before this all began, part of your goal in creating a quarantine routine will be to bring as much of your old routine into your new reality as possible. If you didn’t have a routine prior to this, this is the perfect opportunity to create one.

Here is how to build a healthy quarantine routine that works for you:

Remember, You’re Not “Working from Home”

First off, remember that you are not “working from home” in the same way you may have done for a day or two at a time in the past, before any of this happened. In this current COVID-19 situation, you’re “trying your best to work from home during a global pandemic.” There is a difference.

Cut yourself some slack, cut your colleagues some slack, and if you’re a manager of people, cut them some slack as well. We’re all trying to do our best in extremely difficult circumstances.

Set an Alarm Every Day

When I started self-quarantining, I stopped setting alarms, as I recognized that not having to commute to work allowed me to sleep in longer. I soon realized that while this is true, and I very much appreciate being able to start my day that much later, I still need to set an alarm to ensure I’m getting up at a consistent time each day.

We need structure now more than ever. Sticking to a routine during quarantine isn’t easy, but few things that are worth it are. Start your quarantine routine off right every day, by setting an alarm the night before.

Change Up Your Workout Routine

If you used to meditate as part of your morning routine, you can keep this routine up during quarantine just as easily now as before. But what about your workout routine?

Even if the gyms where you are haven’t yet been ordered closed, I would recommend against visiting them. Instead, take up jogging in your local park (wearing a face mask as appropriate), use free weights at home, or, if you’re feeling flush and you have the space, purchase your own exercise equipment, such as a stationary bike or rowing machine.

Create a Dedicated Work Space

If you’re lucky enough to be able to work from a laptop, it’s essential that your new quarantine routine gives you a dedicated space to work from every day. Needless to say, if you have a home office (or a spare bedroom that can serve as one), use it!

I live in a small one-bedroom apartment in New York City, so space is hard to come by. Prior to COVID-19, I made a rule to never work from the bedroom, as I wanted this to be a sacred space. I recently reversed this rule, however, as a part of my quarantine routine, with certain caveats: I place a chair in the bedroom facing a plain white wall, looking away from the bed and window into the outside world. It may not be a “traditional” office, but it allows the seclusion I need to get my work done without outside distractions, while at the same time allowing the “bed” part of the bedroom to stay sacred.

Block Out Distractions

Lastly, if you live with your spouse or a friend who is in your home at the same time as you—potentially also working from home—I recommend wearing your headphones, earbuds, or other noise-cancelling devices as often as possible. It can be difficult to concentrate and truly be in “work mode” if you can hear other people all around you; people who you would normally associate with being at home, not at work.

While these distractions are arguably healthy to have, you want to be having them on your terms, at set times that work for you.

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Benjamin Spall

Benjamin Spall

Benjamin Spall is the co-author of My Morning Routine (Portfolio). He has written for outlets including the New York Times, New York Observer, Quartz, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, CNBC, and more.