Tuesday, March 31, 2020

C19: New (and Old) Systems

I'm one who tends to thrive off systems. I have a system for when and how I peek at our finances. I have a morning routine. I have a way I make a schedule for myself on days when my work is flexible.

I knew at the beginning of this thing that I'd need to make some new systems for myself, not only to keep some normalcy, but because it makes me FEEL GOOD. While I've already been discovering there is a limit to the usefulness of 1) my existent systems and 2) the new ones I'd make (see "Loosening My Grip" post), I still find comfort in building and trying routines.

I feel like I need new routines for the following:

  • Wake-Up and Morning Routine
  • News Consumption
  • Social Media Use
  • Take-Out/ Food Delivery Use
  • Video Consumption for Entertainment
  • Bedtime

Wake-Up and Morning Routine:

I've historically been quite good about getting up early (which I like) and at what I deem a "reasonable hour." That said, that's understandable been sliding quite a bit during this time. While I am trying to be gentle with myself about this, I also really do wish to reclaim those precious morning hours I so enjoy.

While I've currently got a pretty solid morning routine that has been built by many years of trial and error (it's become simpler over time - make coffee, go on a walk, write), I do think it needs a bit of a tweak during this time. My body has been hurting pretty badly during all this, between not being able to move as fully in my basement movement space as I would in a studio and the fact that it's floor below the thin carpet is concrete. I've long found, and now is no exception, that when my back hurts the way it has been, I should actually move and stretch MORE. It helps me loosen up the tightness in my muscles gained by the lack and restraint of movement I have been experiencing. Therein, I plan to make a little edit to my current morning routine as well.

C19 Wake-Up and Morning Routine Plan:
  • Set (and respect) your alarm each day for between 6 and 7am, dependent on when you went to bed
  • Retain your current morning routine of making coffee, going on a walk and writing before jumping into work for the day, but add in moving through some internalized yoga prompts in the kitchen while the coffee brews
News Consumption: 

Prior to this debacle, my daily news consumption routine included listening to NPR's "Up First" podcast each morning, catching the local WCCO radio news at the top of the hour when in the car at those times, and reading a couple headlines from the Wall Street Journal (app), for which we have a subscription. I've had to work to keep from listening to "Up First" immediately, instead trying to keep it to after I'd made my coffee, gone on a walk with it and done a little writing. This routine was working well for me in trying to keep informed by legitimate sources while not overdoing it in a way that would harm my mental health. Now, with so many scheduling restraints gone, I'm finding it hard to be as purposeful with how I take in news, so I'd like to revisit this topic and make some systems. 

My C19 News Consumption Plan:
  • Morning:  I'm going to keep the "Up First"  podcast after my coffee, writing and walk part of my former daily system, as well as to add NPR's "Coronavirus Daily" podcast at that time. 
  • Lunch: For some local coverage, I'll allow myself to listen to Radio.com's stream of WCCO or the MPR radio stream for a bit at lunch, as well as to read some MPR articles.
  • Evening: I'll read some articles from the WSJ app BEFORE we sit down to watch a little TV before bed/ whichever "before bed" activity I/ we choose.
Social Media Use:

This is a tough one. I've oscillated between various systems for this. At one point, I'd removed the Facebook app from my phone (this was before I started using Instagram too), and liked that quite a bit! While I've got the app back on my phone now and am using both it and the Instagram app quite a bit to hold myself accountable to creating and to connect with my professional community, I still don't have the messenger app on my phone, as I prefer to keep that from becoming yet another way I can be reached quickly. 

While the Facebook and Instagram apps have both been very useful to me professionally, they ARE creeping back into the in-between-moments a lot more now, like they used to. I'm really hoping to keep those in-between moments more grounded in my physical location, in my body, in whatever I'ma actually in the middle of. Therein:

My C19 Social Media Use Plan:
  • I think I'll actually tether my scrolling through for professional means and personal enjoyment to the same times I check the news, and I'll give myself 20 minutes total for each of the morning, lunch and evening slots. This will not include the time I use Facebook or Instagram Live to take dance classes. This plans amounts to an hour of news and social media each day, which in a way seems REALLY minimal and super-ambitious. I suppose I'll just have to be gentle with myself.
  • When I feel the urge to look at the news or social media outside these times, I will either 1) read the book I'm in the middle of or 2) sew a mask.
Take-Out/ Food Delivery Use: 

Kris and I have never been big users of take-out or food delivery. That said, he is quite the aficionado of fast-casual eating for lunch, and we DO like to go out to dinner. I really love to cook and have been wanting to try new recipes I think we'd both like (now from the items we feel it important to keep on hand), so we haven't really needed to get take-out/ food delivery. It took until Day 16 of our quarantine (this past Saturday) to decide to go ahead and give it a try. What motivated us to go for it was the desire to have a "date night" - we even got dressed up!

We are planning to do more of this, but will likely use delivery, as the pick-up system at the place we tried take-out was employing much less than what it seems has emerged as best practices for this. While I love to cook and we are happy with the amount of money this is saving us while much of my upcoming work is uncertain, we DO also wish to support local businesses. That and "anything different is good" right now (thanks for the quote, Groundhog Day movie :)). 

My C19 Take-Out/ Food Delivery Plan:
  • Keep a browser bookmark list of both favorite places and places we'd like to try (yeah, I know, old-school, but I really love the manual-ness of this, and use this system for organizing recipes and several other bits of information as well!)
  • Order from a local business once a week
  • Use delivery when it's an option, and take-out only as a second choice
Video Consumption for Entertainment:

I'm actually surprised at how little Kris and I have watched TV shows and movies across the various methods of access we have during this time. I'm talking cable (ugh), Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. I also have a YouTube habit, which I've managed to keep in check by focusing on mostly only watching the channels I'm subscribed to, which are few. Maybe we'll soon make good on actually cancelling our cable, which I've been trying to convince him to do for a long time. Now that Gopher Hockey is over, there's is only one more episode of Walking Dead this season AND we can get a lot of great local news other ways, I'm hoping this happens soon!

We've watched a bit of Frasier (he loves it and I'm watching it for the first time, which is why we even have Hulu), as well as about four movies and a couple episodes of Rachel Maddow in these first 18 days of our quarantine. I've also watched three other movies. All together not bad, considered we have expressed a desire to one another to limit the amount of entertainment time we spend on this, especially considering how much time we are now each spending in front of a computer for work. That said, I STILL feel my video consumption for entertainment could be more purposeful.

My C19 Plan for Video Consumption for Entertainment:
  • Begin a section of bookmarks for movies and TV shows I'd like to see (which will include classic movie musicals, which I'd allow into the "work" designation!)
  • Limit YouTube and TV watching to at most an hour of evening free time
  • Limit movie watching to weekends, with a limit of three per weekend
  • Select movies to watch first from existing "My Lists" on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video (until we cancel Hulu, that is! Then just Netflix and Amazon Prime Video) rather than scrolling through everything offered to find something
Bedtime Routine:

This is an area that I haven't actually ever had a very good system for. There are certainly elements that are usually the same: things like filling the water for the humidifier and turning it on, brushing my teeth and putting in my night guard (I've been grinding my teeth terrible while sleeping for a long time, and after years of trying to stave it off the 'natural way' - i.e. for me employing 'Active Rest' technique on the floor next to my bed before moving into it to go to sleep). That said, I think my bedtime routine could use better structure. 

My C19 Bedtime Routine Plan:
  • Move toward the bedroom between 10:30 and 11:30pm
  • Clear up clutter first
  • Fill and turn on humidifier
  • Change into pajamas
  • Brush teeth, floss
  • Set alarm for between 6 and 7am (depending on what time it is)
  • 'Active Rest' technique on floor next to bed
  • Bed

In summary, as structured according to what has become a typical weekday:

  • Wake: To alarm between 6 and 7am
  • Morning Routine: make coffee, yoga, walk, write
  • Work Period
  • Lunch: 20 minutes to take in news and social media while making and/ or eating. Approved sources: NPR, MPR, WCCO/ Facebook and Instagram
  • Work Period
  • Evenings: Are for leisure, almost always including a walk. Up to an hour of video entertainment is welcomed on weeknights. Approved sources: YouTube subscriptions, bookmark list and Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime lists
  • Bedtime: Start between 10:30 and 11:30. Clear up clutter, fill and turn on humidifier, change into pajamas, brush and floss teeth, set alarm for between 6 and 7am, 'Active Rest' on floor, bed

From here, I've gotta set to work making those bookmark lists for food delivery and tv/ movies I'd like to see. I'm excited! I love lists! But they'll have to wait. Time to eat breakfast and do some work :)

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