Be intentional about your habits and routines. Habits and routines are handy, because they save us mental power on mundane, repetitive tasks. It’s easy to fall back on the same old ways you did things before the world locked down last year, but do you need to? It’s possible that you’ve found better ways to do things that can be implemented in your daily routine. For example, I switched my laundry days to Mondays and Thursdays, and have decided to continue this routine because it frees up some time on weekends. I know it’s hard to remember and implement this stuff after a year, and now I’m talking about changing things – but now is the time if you want to do it. Set your routines based on what works for you now, not on what worked before because it’s less mental work. Believe me, it will become habit soon, and hopefully give you a better daily routine than you had before.
You’ll probably need to set reminders for yourself to stay on track, until you get used to things over the next few weeks. That’s ok. Make use of the reminder, calendar, and note apps on your phone, or use sticky notes and lists to keep you on track. If you prefer to write things down by hand, I suggest getting a Rocketbook to help you keep track of your notes and lists. These are great, because you can scan the files to save in an email or cloud storage drive, and you can wipe off and reuse the pages.
Address issues now, while you’re settling back into a different “normal.” This piggybacks on the previous suggestion, because now is a great time to address things that were a problem for you before. For example, I was bad about running 5 – 10 minutes late getting in to work because I’d overestimate what I could do in the mornings. I decided the return to the office is the time to address this problem, so part of my “new morning routine” is segment my mornings with benchmarks to keep me on track (Bible reading done by a certain time, hair and makeup done by a certain time, dressed and settling in the birds at a certain time, and out of the door by a certain time to allow me 5 minutes to settle in at my desk and start my day). So far, it’s working.
We all have issues we struggle with during the day that tend to throw us off track, so address them as part of your new routine. Whether you need to get a handle on your health, start a diet and exercise routine, get more organized, get more sleep, learn how to handle stress better, be on time, or get a handle on your schedule, now is the time to do it. Take advantage of this opportunity to make sure you’re embarking on post-pandemic life as the best “you” that you can be.
Create new personal standards. I’m not talking about being a radical rule breaker. What I mean is that rules have wiggle room, and there may be ways for you to incorporate some of your pandemic preferences into post-pandemic life. For example, if you quit wearing high heeled shoes during the past year and the thought of putting them back on makes your feet hurt – don’t! You can still look professional and meet your company dress code in flats, so don’t tear up the tendons in your foot for the sake of looking like everybody else in the office. Believe me, I know. I quit wearing heels after I broke my foot in 2015.
Of course, you can’t wear jeans and t-shirts every day, but maybe you can convert to wearing pants and nice shirts instead of dresses and skirts. Or if you quit with nail polish, don’t go back (I haven’t polished my nails in years – I don’t have the time or patience for that). It’s ok to experiment with new ways to dress and do hair and makeup now that you’ve discovered your true style and comfort levels. I joked last Friday that they were seeing my “pandemic hair” because I chose to wear it pulled back in a headwrap that day due to windy weather. Be creative. You can be comfortable (mostly) and still meet your dress code without a problem.
Keep pursuing personal goals and pursuits. Getting back to normal is exhausting, but that doesn’t mean that your personal life has gone down the drain. Were you working on that novel that you always wanted to write, but didn’t quite finish it? Were you taking an online class that you didn’t finish yet? Were you working on an art project that you were so close to finishing (this is my situation). Keep doing it! They can’t take your lunch hours or weekends away, so carve out time in those new routines to incorporate writing time into your schedule. You may have to settle for slower progress, but that’s alright. Any progress is good, so keep at it and don’t give up. Keep your eye on the prize of completing the task, and you’ll feel fabulous for meeting those goals despite the fact that work-from-home time ran out before you were able to finish it. It’s not failure unless you quit, so stick with whatever you were doing and see it through to completion, even if it takes a bit longer than you expected. Which leads me to my final suggestion –
Be patient and kind with yourself, and others. Transitions are always difficult, and we’re all going through it at the same time. Not only that, but life went on during the pandemic, so you don’t know what issues people are bringing back with them. You’re going to stumble and falter sometimes, so don’t despair when you do. For example, last Friday was a schedule nightmare for me. Another reason I had ‘pandemic hair’ that day was because I couldn’t stay on schedule or get things going smoothly. The day went ok, but it was harder than I felt it should be. These things happen. So whether you’re having an ‘off’ day or you hear somebody locked in the restroom stall sobbing, don’t panic. It’s hard for us all, and we’re doing the best we can. It’s going to take some time to settle back into this post-pandemic life and find our way to what works best for us again. Be kind to yourself and others. Listen, and talk to trusted people, if you need to. You aren’t a pathetic person. You’re whole life is turned upside down. It takes a while to adjust.
We’re changed people coming back to a world fighting to go back to what it was before the pandemic, so that clash has us all struggling. Fortunately, we have a choice on how we come back to this world. It’s ok to be different and to see things in a new way – in fact, I think that’s a good thing. Perhaps if enough of us are true to ourselves and stick to what works, then we’ll carve out a post-pandemic reality that can be better than the one we had before.
That’s all today. I hope these suggestions from how I’m handling post-pandemic life are helpful in your own journey into this brave, strange world. Take care, and have a great week.