Routines

 

Every Tuesday I take the 4:31 pm NJ Transit express train from New York Penn to New Brunswick. I walk to Surf Taco and order my dinner. Once I’ve finished enjoying my two tacos and Diet Coke, I walk to my class.

I take the 9:07 pm NJ Transit local train back to New York Penn. I hop the Brooklyn bound 2/3 and walk into what is usually an empty apartment because Chris is still at work. I pour myself a glass of wine and fall asleep around 11:30 pm while watching The Office.

Sharing a snapshot to my routine to illustrate the monotony. I find great comfort in routine.

Since I left my job to focus on finishing graduate school, writing and embarking out on a new path, I’ve had to develop a new routine. To say that finding my new stride has been a challenge would be a gross understatement. Creating this new routine has been and continues to be an evolution. When I first set out on this journey, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be for me.

I graduated from undergrad in 2009, and I merrily joined the scores of people working the 40 hour week. The 9 to 5 jam served me well until it didn’t. I appropriated the routine I lived for eight years on my freelancer/ full-time graduate student jam. My friends, it does not translate.

I failed hard at trying to build my new life on my old life. Typing that and reading it feels like a no-brainer. Without the clarity I have today, I imposed the habits and routine from my 9 to 5 life. Classic square peg in a round hole.

On the rare occasions I stepped outside or went to the gym during “working hours,” I was met with a wave of self-inflicted guilt. You know the sad desk lunch that defines the working world? I ate lunch, that’s right, at my desk…alone…in my own apartment…like a robotic weirdo. If I didn’t complete my entire (and completely unrealistic) to-do list, I felt like my day was wasted. I was my own brutal critic during a time I was trying out what worked and what didn’t work for me.

Once I broke out from that routine, it has been marginally easier.

There are some aspects that I don’t foresee changing; there’s no boss, no set schedule, no colleague to gossip with about the Bachelor. Loneliness and isolation are real. I’m only a few months in, but I understand how some writers go insane. Like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, I get it now. Chris should probably keep a watchful eye on me this winter. Kidding. Totally kidding.

I no longer force myself to sit at my desk if nothing good is happening. I’ve learned that creativity is unpredictable, and inspiration and research can come from unlikely sources. I still use my planner and have blocks of the day carved out for certain tasks. Above all else, I’ve learned to be kinder to myself.

Are there any seasoned bloggers, writers, WFH all-stars who have this all figured out? Please share your secrets with me!

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