“Habit, if not resisted, soon becomes necessity.” – St. Augustine
I don’t know about you, but I find myself constantly scrolling and browsing so many articles, blogs, and even Instagram posts centered on mindfulness, motivation, routines, habits, and making positive daily changes. I often end up feeling bad about myself and regretful, thinking about how much time I wasted, reading and pondering how to actually save and make the most of my time. Ironic, right? Well, I’m clearly seeking something I can pull out and adjust to fit into my own life. I’m often struggling to figure out how I can work in many of these practices or if I can actually do any of them at all with my current job and schedule. I always end up telling myself I’m just wasting more time! I’m not trying to speak negatively of the authors of the many sources and content I find myself buried in many days, but it is usually extremely repetitive. One main difference you will find with this piece of content will be the intended audience. Almost every single article on morning habits and routines I come across only applies and works, if you have a very flexible work schedule or work from home! I currently do not have a flexible schedule and do not work from home, and neither do many readers!
If you work a regular nine-to-five schedule — or any variation of a typical work day out of the home — those hundreds of articles on changing your morning habits will not work for you or your weekly, day-to-day lifestyle! You most likely don’t have the time or energy in the morning to block off a big chunk of time for goal setting, prayer, gratitude, planning, reflection, relaxed coffee time, or working out! Maybe any or all of those immediately make you feel uneasy or overwhelmed, when thinking about tackling any combination of those habits before you set off for work in the morning. I often find myself feeling this way!
My first recommendation would be to sit down, and write down which daily habits are most important to you each day. What would be most beneficial before starting the work day? Is there any one habit or change in particular you have been hoping to implement for a long time but haven’t been able to make the space in your day? Remember, I’m talking about doing this one or even few habits before leaving for work. Before you get anxious thinking about doing anything extra before you leave, think about what one or two changes might make your day better or more positive. I’ve really been hoping to be able to do my daily prayer, write my daily page, and set my daily goals before I leave for work, and currently, this has proved to be too many to tackle at once.
I started writing my daily goals the night before, which has helped, and I will try to only focus, for now, on doing the daily readings and my own daily prayers before leaving in the morning. If you are willing or find it to be important enough, a change in your morning habits may require a schedule change. If you really want to go for it, you could always try to get up an hour earlier, devoting that hour to getting your work out in or your daily planning or goal-setting! This requires a huge amount of discipline, so if you have it, go for it!
Throughout the Day
If you work a close variation to a nine-to-five schedule, maybe there is a little wiggle room for you to implement small steps or pieces of your new habits. Of course, it depends largely on the type of job and schedule you have, as well as how much time or flexibility you have within the job, during the workday. Maybe you have a regular lunch hour and would benefit from using part of it to take a walk outside or work on a business plan for your side hustle — or whatever it may be!
If you have a job which requires you to drive all day or do deliveries, it will obviously be more difficult to squeeze anything extra into the workday. If you have a corner office and the flexibility to take breaks throughout the day, as long as you get all your work and daily tasks done, well maybe doing some new habit-forming behaviors, would be much easier for you, than doing anything extra in the morning.
Another way to think of how to add anything extra into your schedule, for your own personal development, throughout the work day is to think about what you need during the day for your own well-being and mindset. If doing some work on your daily or short-term goals or prayer and reflection will help your frame of mind and productivity, it may be worth working it into the work schedule each day. Everyone has different high and low points of energy and productivity each day. It is important to know yourself well enough to know when you don’t have enough energy or when you are most productive and energized, before working on new habits during the workday. Balance is key, as we all hear all the time in most things we read, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself with making new personal changes.
Once again, it is worth saying, when thinking about the evenings during the week, it of course depends on work schedule, what time you get home each day, and evening commitments throughout the week. Personally, I have a set time my work day ends, but once a week I have a faculty meeting after school and any extra meetings or conferences. Also, at least once but sometimes a few evenings a week, I have commitments at church with my involvement in youth ministry. It is hard to implement a set evening schedule of productivity habits, when each week’s evening schedule is always different.
If you’re the type of person who prefers or tends to keep your evenings open or finish any evening commitments by a certain time, evenings may be your sweet spot for productivity and forming positive, daily habits! Even if you’re not much of a writer, writing just a page a day can be very freeing. It gets all the thoughts from the day down, and it can even include a few notes of gratitude from the day or the best part of the day. Maybe evening is the best time for you to get to the gym, work out at home, or take a short walk around the neighborhood. I function way better at night than morning, so if you can relate at all, you understand how much easier it can be to do a few extra practices at the end of the day, instead of the beginning.
Whether you are able to add in a few new morning mindfulness practices, have the flexibility to work on some personal goals and betterment during the day, or you’re an evening doer similar to myself, you have to work it in the way in which is best for your personality and work schedule. Regardless, it is always a good idea to take even just twenty minutes each day to do a few preparations for the next day, before you head to bed. This usually consists of packing up everything for lunch the next day, setting out and ironing/steaming a work outfit, and finishing up any urgent work tasks. If you can help it, I recommend trying not to bring work home with you as much as possible and not checking work emails outside of work, if your job allows. It will save you a lot of time and stress! The little extra time preparing the night before will be especially helpful for those who dread or are definitely not morning people!
Hopefully you were drawn in by seeing the title, which included “When You Don’t Have a Flexible Work Schedule” and feel more able to implement some new habits, ultimately changing your mindset for the better. If you’re like me, you’ve found yourself disappointed and even frustrated after reading the endless number of morning motivation and mindfulness articles! Most of us don’t have flexibility to sleep in, get up whenever our body naturally wakes up, and begin with an hour of goal planning, exercise, and your favorite personal development book over coffee., This sounds like a dream, but honestly, I don’t even have that perfectly down on the weekend. It is especially impossible during the week. Think about when you have the most energy and motivation to be productive, what makes sense with your schedule, and what will make you feel good, not overwhelmed and anxious. Start with one step!