At the start of the lockdowns, while it was still a shock to the system to have everything change so suddenly, my motivation hadn't yet been affected. I was still on turbo mode from my never ending hectic schedule of what now feels like a previous life, and only until a couple of weeks into the lockdown did my body clock finally start to match the world's circumstances: it finally slowed down. I started noticing that with my slowing down and adjusting to the new situation at hand, I started to feel a bit sluggish though. I was no longer waking up at 6am consistently... what for if I'm working from home? There's no rush. And from there I also started to pick up my phone in the mornings instead of sticking to my morning routine of journaling as soon as I woke up. And little by little, action by action (or rather inaction) I slowly but surely started to feel like shit-- not because I was slowing down the pace, but because in the process of adjusting to this temporary "new normal", I was letting go of vital routines in my life that nourished me.
I was in this vortex of sluggishness for a few days, until I realised that if I didn't do something about it, the vortex would soon turn from I-Feel-Like-Crap Vortex into Oh-Shit-I'm-Now-Depressed Vortex, fast. See, when we stay inactive long enough and stop doing anything for ourselves, our mental health suffers. I think we can all agree that some kind of mental breakdown is the LAST thing we want during quarantine on top of everything else, so we've really gotta stay proactive in engaging with what nourishes us and helps us keep our cup full-- and only we know the answer to that.
This brings me to my Antidote-To-Potential-Depression: Keeping a Schedule. I found that making a schedule for myself made the difference I needed to stay focused on what's important. Mind you, this is different than a simple To-Do list, but more on that later. The things you fill your schedule with will likely be completely different to mine and that's totally fine. The point is to just make a schedule so you can have something to refer back to and keep you in check when you wake up to face the day.
(Photo of the schedule I made the night I realised I was headed towards Depression Town. I got off on the Hell No exit and made this schedule instead.)
A few pointers as to why this is different from a simple To-Do list: *It breaks up the day into sections
*It uses time blocking
*I include ideas for self care to weave into the day or evening *I also include hacks for my own good (like leaving my phone in another section of the house so I don't get distracted) The section on the left was for the Friday before Easter (Public Holiday for us) and the page on right took elements from Friday's schedule and simplified them for Saturday. In the schedule I include my beloved morning routine which had been taking a hit, how I want to spend my time around breakfast and it also breaks down my work time into time blocks which helps me stay on task. Let me explain, time is similar to money in the sense that if you don't have a budget you're likely to find new ways to use it up. This is why even when people get a raise, they don't actually end up saving; expenses expand to fit the new salary (because now you can afford more clothes, expensive meals, and a fancier vacation) and before you know it you've saved nothing and you still feel like you don't have enough. Time is the same: if you don't give yourself limits, you can easily spend four hours on something that could've taken two.
This is why Time Blocking is a game changer.
Ever since I created this schedule and then kept on making schedules daily (usually the night before so I wake up with intention and direction) my motivation has kicked back into gear. Before this pandemic, most of us had our schedules already set for us via full time or part time work dictated by others. Since most of us are now finding that we're in charge of our schedules and structuring our time (with less things to do), we can see how it's easy to slip into sloth mode. And maybe sloth mode is necessary for a little while to catch up on rest you weren't getting prior to Covid-19, but eventually you gotta get back into a routine that works for you otherwise you may also start heading towards Depression Town and we don't want that. Pro-tip, if you're really struggling, it helps to start filling up your schedule with things that genuinely bring you joy. Once you start feeling better and more motivated, adding the more nagging tasks will start to feel less daunting. I hope this is useful to you if you feel you're in a funk and need help getting out. I'm sharing this because I was there and this is what helped. :) If you have other suggestions for staying on top of your motivation, please share with us in the comments! Stay safe out there, friends. -Dre