May 17 – The Importance of Structure

Written by Karyn Hall

May 17, 2020

Good morning everyone. So, what are you learning about what you need during this time of stay at home orders and social distancing? For me, I’m appreciating the importance of putting some structure in my day.

You know, here in Texas, life was one way on Friday and then by Monday everything had changed. Suddenly I was working from home, had to think about being safe when leaving my house, and so many businesses were closed. Like changing the channel on a television, a new normal was here. There was no time for easing into it!

The first few days I was a bit lost without my usual routine. At the end of those days, I felt a bit dazed and lethargic. I spent too much time on my computer and listening to the news, trying to understand what was happening. Other days I would start reading and end up spending most of the day reading. Though I put in a lot of hours, I wasn’t very productive.

Structure to the rescue! What I noticed was that I tended to start doing an activity and then I’d keep doing that. There wasn’t a schedule of activities to push me to change to doing something different. And doing the same thing for hours did not work well. Yet even recognizing that, when I was in the middle of reading or working on the computer, I didn’t want to change! I could say to myself, “You will feel better if you add some variety here,” but, in the moment, I didn’t have the motivation to do it.

So a skill that was helpful to me was to write down a schedule. Being too structured wasn’t helpful. I needed a middle of the road schedule–a “just right” schedule. So I put a list of activities on my day planner. I put some hours down for writing, for exercise, for cleaning/chores, and checking in with people I cared about. Then I also made a list of pleasurable activities to do such as games to play and books to read (notice exercise was not on my list of pleasurable activities!).

You might want to consider if adding structure to your day would be helpful. If you have too few activities in your life, or if you find you are not using your time well, then it might be helpful. If you are overwhelmed, it might also be helpful in terms of setting some priorities and planning how you can get done what needs to be done.

Live a skill-full life. We will get through this together!

By Karyn Hall, Ph.D., May 17, 2020

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