I’m back home after a 4 day weekend away, and that means I’m back to my regular daily routine. Wake at 6, brush teeth, feed cats, unload dishwasher, make smoothie, sit down to write. The rest of my day will be similarly familiar. Work, lunch at noon, work some more, pick up daughter from swimming.
I thrive on routine. Routine guarantees I will get all the things done I need to get done, without having to think about it. I don’t have to figure out each day when I will brush my teeth, or eat my breakfast, or take a break from work for lunch. This frees my brain from having to make decisions about those daily tasks — they just get done out of habit.
There’s one part of my day that I haven’t made a routine yet, and it drives me bonkers that I have not. A girlfriend who also works remote asked me over the weekend, “What’s the hardest thing for you about working from home?” Without hesitation, I said “Showering.” I never know when to do it!
All my life, I was a morning showerer. Showering and getting dressed were the dividing line between home and starting the day at school or work. For whatever reason, I have not been able to build showers into my routine now that I work from home. I get up, put on cozy clothes, and start my morning routine before everyone else is up so that we’re not bumping into each other in the kitchen while everyone gets ready for their day.
At some point, I have to transition from cozy clothes to real clothes, and showering is the point where I do that. But I can never figure out where to insert that point in my day. There are often more important things to do, and sometimes the transition point doesn’t happen until my workday is done.
This problem is solved on mornings I take our daughter to the pool. I swim, shower, and dress at the aquatic center, and I don’t have to think about it one bit. There is no decision, there is no wondering all day, “Should I shower at lunch? No, there’s not enough time. Should I shower before I start my work day? No, I’d rather write and do my personal time stuff. Should I shower at night? No, because my hair is janky all day the next day after sleeping on it.”
It’s remarkable how much brain space this question of when to shower takes up each day, especially on days I don’t have any video calls. There’s no time by which I have to be showered and dressed, so it’s easier to put it off. But it bothers me every day that I don’t have a plan. Like exercise, if I don’t shower first thing, I can never figure out how to fit it in.
I think the secret is to get up a few minutes earlier and take my shower very first thing. Then it won’t occupy space in my mind, needling me all day, “When are you going to do this?” Once I make a plan for it, and make it part of my routine, I won’t have to think about it any more. I’ll be able to attend to more interesting questions.