The hardest part of the past several weeks has been the lack of routines. My business, my mental health, and my physical well-being rely on them. This isn’t some weird quirk of mine; it’s science. Humans do better when we have some basic structure in our lives. It reduces anxiety, promotes healthy habits, and provides a range of mental health benefits. Routines keep us focused on what matters, which increases productivity. That’s why having my bullet journal as a focal point has been a lifesaver.
Travel as Lack of Structure
In our final days in Finland we had no furniture. We still don’t have office furniture on the new place. It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve had a standardized place to sit and work. If you don’t think of something as sitting at your own desk as a routine, you’re mistaken. You have a sense memory of how the chair feels, the temperature in that part of the room, layout of the things on your desk. When you sit at a different desk, like those in hotel rooms, it feels off even if it’s spacious and comfortable. When you’re using a shelf as a standing desk, or balancing your laptop on your knees as you sit on the sofa, you come to appreciate basic routines.
Today is the first day that I have cookware. I made breakfast for the first time in 3 weeks. During this relocation we’ve gone out to eat far too often. At home (old and new) we’ve been living on sandwiches, fresh fruit, and raw veggies. While we’ve tried to make healthy choices, you don’t have the same level of control as when you cook. I also cook to relax, and express creativity. My days are largely built around set times from breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as coffee breaks. Without normal mealtime routines, my entire day feels off.
I won’t even go into how much better you feel, physically and mentally, when you get to sleep in your own bed. It doesn’t matter how luxurious the hotel room might be. It’s not even about noises and temperatures and lighting. There is something about knowing that you’re in your own space, exclusively yours, that allows you to feel safe and sleep better.
Bullet Journal as a Focal Point
My bullet journal has been on my person at all times. When we were traveling, it was in my carryon. Any time I leave the house it’s in my purse. The ability to sit down, no matter when I am, and organize my thoughts has been a lifesaver. I can write down ideas and new information. I can see what I’m supposed to be doing today. The minutiae of my life gets captured so I can live in the moment without fearing that I’m forgetting something.
Even with the old apartment torn apart and stripped down, the bullet journal was base. Across 6 cities in 3 days, 4 airports and 2 trains and 3 hotels, the bullet journal was there. Sitting on the floor, lounging on the sofa, or standing at the kitchen counter, my bullet journal remains a constant. Without it my stress levels would have been far higher.
New Routines Still Forming
As we approach the point of getting settled in, new routines are being established. A lot of them are temporary. Looking up where places are located, like the DMV, the library, and places to shop for specific items, stops being part of the equation once you’re learned where they are. The same goes for determining which bus you need to take, and where the stops for that route are located.
As we gain things, like cookware and office furniture, the routines of doing without disappear. When I figure out better workflows, where I put things will change; how I have the kitchen set up will evolve as I cook more meals and get a handle on how to work with the layout of counters and appliances.
A lot of the new routines are going to be developed, though, because of the notes I keep in my bullet journal.