Breaking Up The Routine
May 9, 2020 5:50 PM   Subscribe

Every day, week and weekend all feels the same. I've taken the "create a routine" to almost too much heart, and now it all blends together. I am occupied, but am in need of something to break up the routine and also give myself things to look forward to. What are some ways that I can create unique, varied experiences during this time of sheltering in place? What are ways I can make this week feel different than last week, this weekend feel different than last weekend, this month feel different than last month? I miss looking forward to something/anything.
posted by ellerhodes to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Things I do:

First, to create weekends— Saturday I cook with meat. No other days. The dogs get nice canned food. I have a weekly Saturday call with my best friend.

For weekly—I set goals around my Indoor garden (luckily nurseries here are still allowed to deliver, so I can get seeds and soil). I’m not a very good gardener, but I find this very soothing.

I have an indoor exercise routine so I set goals around that— nothing spectacular, but doing it three times a week and seeing progress is it’s own reward.

I’ve joined a zoom beginner’s dance class, and it’s fun getting better at the steps.

Hope some of this helps!
posted by frumiousb at 6:01 PM on May 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Do you have any ability to get out into nature, or any interest in doing that? Outdoors, every week is different from the week before and every month is different from the month before. The weather changes, you see different flowers and different birds. You can pick strawberries in June, raspberries in July, blackberries in August, apples in September. You could go on regular hikes where you try to notice seasonal changes, flowers, birds, etc. If you hike only on certain days, or hike in different places on different days, that could keep every day from feeling the same. If you're not much of a hiker now, you could try gradually increasing the distance you can walk, which could give you a feeling of progress and change. You could also do some gardening if you have a yard. Or you could go to farmer's markets and buy what's in season.
posted by Redstart at 6:16 PM on May 9, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I have a LOT to say about this. I wrote a blog post about this on Monday, collating research and anecdata on why we're having trouble discerning and tracking the time and also how to reverse this unmooring in time.

I'd just summarize, but it was a freakishly long post, like 3300 words, and MeFi has rules about self-linking. But my website is listed in my MF profile, and the post is the first one atop the blog, so it's easy to find. It's called, Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is? 5 Strategies to Cope With Pandemic Time Dilation. I hope something in there will help you make your quarantine time more vivid.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 6:24 PM on May 9, 2020 [15 favorites]

Best answer: Set a few weekly routines.
Thursday night happy hour zoom call with a group of friends?
Order delivery on Tuesday nights?
Make pancakes on Saturday mornings?
posted by nouvelle-personne at 6:27 PM on May 9, 2020 online events. Seriously. I am seeing all kinds of shows, I just did a scavenger hunt this morning and came in third, there's classes, there's all kinds of things to do AND you have to remember when they are going on in order to attend! I'm signing up for online classes/workshops when I find them as well. Every weekend I've had a drastically different time.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:27 PM on May 9, 2020 [8 favorites]

Best answer: So earlier last year I wanted do a different monthly community challenge (like NaNoWriMo or Inktober) every month to dedicate each month to a particular creative pursuit, and that didn't happen because I was way too busy. Now might be a good time to do something like that, except in your case maybe dedicate each week to it rather than a whole month? If your goal is just to have new things, rather than get practice with one thing (which was more my goal), then experimenting with one of these challenges for a week each could be fun. Here's what I was planning:

January - Planning for the other months!
February - Letter-writing
March - Knitting/crochet or novel editing
April - Tarot Art or poetry
May - Short stories
June - Kaijune
July - Art Fight
August - Smaugust
September - Plan novel or Shelftember or Sketchtember
October - Inktober
November - Novel writing
December - Drawcember

Here's the list I looked at to pick some challenges, could get more ideas there!
posted by brook horse at 6:42 PM on May 9, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I was going to ask this same question! (The Wrong Kind of Cheese, your article was great!)

I’m struggling with this so hard, too. One thing my partner and I have been doing is choosing one restaurant per weekend from which to order takeout. It’s nice to look forward to delicious Thai curry or whatever your pleasure, if you have access to takeout or delivery.

Completing a monthly challenge is also helpful— I recently did a 30 days of yoga challenge on YouTube using Yoga with Adriene videos, so each day I could track the date (I’m so lost on dates lately!) and also feel good about giving my body some good stretches. Another option would be a monthlong drawing challenge, or any challenge that involves a little activity each day.

And finally, I try to make a to-do list every night (for the next day), but also a “done” list for that day. It’s nice to see, in writing, how my time is used. And I have a long, ongoing list of ALL the things we’ve been doing during isolation. It feels like I’ve done absolutely nothing, but that’s not true— if I read over the list occasionally, it makes me feel good about my use of time over these weeks. I baked things! I dyed with indigo! I organized my records! I sorted the entire kitchen! Wheeeeee.
posted by sucre at 6:44 PM on May 9, 2020 [4 favorites]

Oh, sucre reminded me--my partner and I have been trying a lot of new restaurants via delivery. Previously, we only looked for things that were on our way home from work/school, or on routes we typically took. Now we're branching out to a bunch of places we never knew existed! Try looking at your local newspaper for a list of restaurants that deliver right now. We recently tried a ramen place, a pizza place with GREAT spaghetti, and a bakery, all places we had never heard of but found on a list of restaurants that deliver!
posted by brook horse at 6:49 PM on May 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Agree with Sucre on takeout food. Get something that you've never had. We just did this today and we're going to do it again.

Do a really, really good job on trash day. Throw something away that you should have thrown away years ago.

Make note of how the patterns of sunlight in your home are changing, as the sun approaches its most northerly sunrise and sunset positions (in the northern hemisphere of planet earth). A buddy of mine called it Homehenge. Use blue tape on the floors or walls to mark the positions of sunlight at sunrise, solar noon or sunset, or the position of the first and last beam that shines into your house each day. Watch it reverse direction on June 21.
posted by the Real Dan at 7:34 PM on May 9, 2020 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Cook a fancier meal on Sunday evening (or whenever works best for your schedule).

Lay out a series of projects that need doing and have been piling up around the house, one per week, whether that's cleaning or repair.

Take an online class at the same time(s) every week.
posted by praemunire at 8:35 PM on May 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

I’ve tried to do this with a multi-stage project that is somewhat new to me. Each stage needs planning, thinking and learning how to do things. Plus I need to buy some stuff, which then takes several days minimum to arrive, and I look forward to each parcel. Each stage forms its own mini-project with milestones etc. I’m deliberately doing it all in slow motion.

My project is to make a modular synthesiser, but it could be gardening or dressmaking or picture framing or furniture restoration or anything with a practical & aesthetic dimension that interests you, and whereby something exists at the end of the process that didn’t exist before you started.
posted by rd45 at 2:42 AM on May 10, 2020

Best answer: Sow seeds for an indoor (or outdoor) herb and/or flower box. Watching things not visibly grow for days and then begin to poke out of the soil and then visibly grow is very satisfying and conveys a sense of time passing. For me, at least. The time thing is a genuine problem these days. Best of luck.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:39 AM on May 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

Mod note: Just for the record, it's fine to self link in a comment in a thread (as opposed to making a front page post) when the content is directly pertinent to the subject of the post. Pursuant to that, here's The Wrong Kind of Cheese's blog post on strategies to cope with pandemic time dilation (from above).
posted by taz (staff) at 6:57 AM on May 10, 2020 [6 favorites]

Look to the skies. This always changes, and the lunar phases are consistent.
Note how the path of the sun and the moon is shifting as we go closer to the Summer Solstice (June 20). Is this visible from a window? Set up prisms for the sun's rays. Notice where they hit the walls and ceilings at different hours.

If you have an outdoor area for nighttime viewing, enjoy identifying some of the constellations and the most visible stars. Note the time table for when these constellations are at various parts of the sky.
It's a different type of time management, compared to the artificial hours and days.

If you are near a coastal area, you can also note the high and low tides.
posted by TrishaU at 9:50 AM on May 10, 2020

Best answer: This doesn't help with longer term passage of time indicators, but to keep every DAY from seeming the same, I set up a weekly schedule of "treats." Mine is:

Sunday: eat sugar (I don't usually)
Monday: drink alcohol in the evening
Tuesday (day off): drive somewhere for a hike
Wednesday: "live" yoga class instead of my usual daily recorded one
Thursday: takeout
Friday: with my daughter, watch whatever weird musical Andrew Lloyd Webber is streaming
Saturday: start a new trashy thrillers by a particular author

Keeping a running to-do list of projects slightly larger than keeping myself clothed and fed has also helped; I'm not terribly productive around the house, but it's encouraged me to do a lot more than I would have otherwise, and seeing these visible changes to my home has helped.
posted by metasarah at 3:34 PM on May 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Even though I live somewhere that only gets really hot one week per year -- I know it's coming sometime in the next couple months. In anticipation, I bought an inflatable kiddie pool and some bottles of nice Rose and I'm looking forward to spending that week sitting in that pool, drinking that wine.

Which is all to say, allow yourself a pleasure to look forward to which you'd never have done if it WASN'T a pandemic, even if it's ridiculous and is something you'll only have/use one time.
posted by egeanin at 4:05 PM on May 10, 2020 [4 favorites]

I’m mostly housebound due to disability, so this is a problem I’m definitely familiar with. Here are some things I do to break up the sameness:

-I watch a few TV shows “live” (as they’re broadcast) each week to break up the sameness of the days; I have a treat to look forward to on Mondays and Thursdays
-I follow Sandra Boynton on Facebook and celebrate all kinds of holidays as a result. Frex, April 30 was International Jazz Day!
-If you belong to a religion, now might be the time to explore the calendar of your religion in a way that feels meaningful. If you do not, or if you do and are an outdoorsy person, look up your ag extension online and see what they have to say this time of year. My own has newsletters galore!
-Create a weekly celebration for yourself and change it monthly. Make it outdoor if you can. Incorporate a seasonal snack/drink if you like.
posted by epj at 4:28 PM on May 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

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