The New Years Resolution That's Been Keeping Me Sane During "Shelter in Place"
I don't need to tell you that the world is truly a wacky place right now. I've been home in California for one week now, getting out of the crowd of NYC while this all glazes over, and while I've been here I have been increasingly grateful for a little app I downloaded in January.
I downloaded the "Productive - Habit Tracker" in January and, initially, only implemented five goals for myself - Yoga (every day but Wednesday), Water (one bottle in the morning, afternoon, and evening), Skin Care (morning and evening), Book Club Reading (daily), and Knitting (daily). I've since added a 3x weekly "interact with art" goal (for seeing plays, going to museums, reading non-book club books, or even, in light of the circumstances, tonight I counted learning a new game with my friends over Zoom), and a "clean your bag" task every Wednesday. Starting today, there will be a goal every other Thursday to work on my blog/website.
Starting gradually, and with things that were easy, was really good for me. Even though my yoga goal is on "pause" in the app right now (not for very much longer, as my studio has officially started offering online classes for the duration of their closure), it's easy for me to commit to going 6x a week because my monthly membership is expensive! Knitting and Book Club reading are both things I say I enjoy but had been falling off the wagon habit wise - now, after work, when I would normally be reaching for Netflix or getting on the train and am about to play an iPhone game, I get a self-imposed daily notification reminding me to do them. Since implementing the app into my daily routine, the task I've struggled with the most is skin care - it's been interesting to track my progress, and I am gradually getting better about washing my face before bedtime because I want to improve myself.
At the same time, I have made a point to not beat myself up over "incomplete" days. As much as the app is for productivity, I made a promise to myself when I downloaded it that I wasn't going to drive myself crazy over it. It has been exciting to challenge myself to maintain streaks, and being easy on myself about what "completing" a task entails has made it feel healthy rather than confining (for example, one row of knitting still counts as knitting, less than a chapter of reading between subway stops still counts as reading).
In light of so many routines being broken as a result of the necessary national response to COVID-19, the little reminders to do simple things like drink water or do a craft at regular times has been refreshing. After a couple months of making sure I was doing things daily, it has been much easier to use this extra free time I suddenly have towards productive and fulfilling tasks rather than just defaulting to the time-sucks of social media or otherwise staring at my phone. Being able to do a little bit every day, rather than forcing myself to be incredibly productive. I've seen a lot of people who are at a loss of what to do with this free time - wishing they could muster up the conviction to write that novel or learn that language or adopt that hobby now that they have the time, but they don't know where to start. I really think that if I hadn't been working a little bit every day this year until now, that I would not have been able to finish my knitting project this morning, or get ahead on my book club reading a few nights ago.
Building habits over time, with any kind of tracker or reminder, can be incredibly rewarding. For me, it has been this whole year so far. In light of the current shelter in place orders, I am so glad that I have started working towards my goals slowly but surely by implementing them into my daily routines, rather than feeling stuck and without an idea as to where to start now that I have nothing else to do.