4 Reasons Why You Should Keep Your Daily Routines When Working From Home

published Mar 24, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Westend61/Getty Images

If you’re one of the many folks who have transitioned to working from home in recent weeks, it might have felt great at first. No more alarm clocks, cramped subway cars, or pants that aren’t soft. But it can have its downsides.

While it might be fun to work from your bed on occasion, sticking to your normal routine actually has a lot of benefits when it comes to your productivity and wellbeing. Here are a few reasons you should keep your days as regular as possible.

It lessens stress

Our brains, powerful as they are, do tire out from making too many decisions. In fact, a study published in the “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” says that the more decisions you make, the more stressed you get and the less self-control you have.

Ever spent a half an hour going back and forth between the closet and the mirror deliberating what to wear? Stressful, right? A lot of successful people—Steve Jobs, for instance, with his trademark black turtleneck, jeans, and white sneakers—save themselves time and energy by having a standard #OOTD.

“Carrying out routine activities reduces stress by making the situation appear more controllable and predictable,” says Indumathi Bendi, M.D., a physician at Piedmont Healthcare tells Apartment Therapy. “Preparedness is a key way to prevent stress.”

“When you reduce the number of decisions you have to make each day, you’ll have a deeper sense of peace as well as relaxation of the mind and body,” added Dr. Bendi. “Then you’ll be geared up to face your other tasks.”

It maintains good habits

On average, it takes 21 days to develop a habit but it takes only a few days to lose it. For example, if you’ve gotten used to waking up extra early to exercise, that good habit might suddenly be in jeopardy. With a work-from-home setup, you can sleep a bit later because you don’t have a rush hour train to catch. The catch is, now that you’ve woken up late, you’ve messed with your body clock and you’re too sluggish to even put on your Lululemons. The same can apply to other aspects of your life. 

By keeping your everyday routine as much as possible, you not only keep good habits, but also stave off bad habits. As motivational speaker Brian Tracy said, “Good habits are hard to form but easy to live with. Bad habits are easy to form but hard to live with.”

It keeps you from procrastinating

Without a routine, it’s easy to get lost if you don’t have a schedule or to-do list to follow. When you’re not on autopilot, every little thing becomes a decision you now have to make, which leaves you open to procrastination.

“Every time you procrastinate, you are making a decision,” says Dr. Robert Schachter, Assistant Clinical Professor for the Department of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and director of Procrastination Centers of America. “Talk back to the voice that tells you to do something later and remind yourself that it’s your choice.”

By retaining what you’ve been accustomed to doing, you block out big chunks of your day to do what you need to do, like work, exercise, and spending time with family.

It’s good for your health

Perhaps the best reason for keeping your daily routine during a tumultuous time is that it helps to maintain your mental and physical health.

“The reassurance of a predictable routine calms nerves without us even realizing it,” therapist Elizabeth Earnshaw told GQ. “When structure or routine vanishes suddenly because of something outside your control, it can feel like having a rug pulled out from under you.”

Getting enough sleep is key to our health, and right now, it might not be as easy as you’d like. But sticking to your routine can help. As our Editor-in-Chief Laura Schocker wrote recently about anxiety and sleep:

Schedule changes can also lead to problems sleeping. Whether you’re suddenly working from home, unable to work, or working overtime in an essential service, everything about this time is disruptive. “Sleep is very rhythmic,” [Michael Grandner, Ph.D., director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona] says. “The body loves predictability.”

Gradner continues: “In a time of unbalance, create some balance even if you have to do it superficially.” He recommends getting up at the same time every day, even if you don’t have to, and trying to get some sunlight in the morning. Go outside if it’s possible, and if not, open up a window or go out on a balcony. Maintaining your morning rituals, like showering, changing, and brushing your teeth, can promote that sense of rhythm.

So as the British like to say, keep calm and carry on.