Day 2 - Creating Portable Routines in Response to "Pandemic-Proof Your Habits"

Charles MerrittDec 14 · 4 min read

During the month of December, Buddy will highlight, the Twelve Days of Fearlessness. Whether it is getting up the nerve to lace up your old ice skates with your five-year-old or conquering a halfpipe like your teenage days, fearlessness is not just situational for all- for some, it is a way of life.


One of the greatest joys for me is seeing where the path goes, and before 2020, there was plenty to explore. Travel for work, adventures with friends and family, and constantly being in motion were my norm. All of a sudden, that came to a halt. I went from trying to figure out how to fit my passions into a busy, dynamic schedule to trying to figure out how to have any kind of schedule at all.

Then, I came across Kate Murphy's article "Pandemic-Proof Your Habits" in the New York Times. She provides an overview of the research into the importance of routines and how the human brain is pre-wired for these types of auto-pilot activities. Inspired by this, I decided to take a look within to identify behaviors that I had either actively or passively made part of my pandemic life and catalog and share some that I want to keep with me as we get on with our lives post-pandemic.

Yes, there are loads of people who are excellent at scheduling, and I regularly try to figure out how to instill that same sense of discipline into my own life, but it's always an uphill battle. So, how would I fare in a world of stay-at-home orders? Knowing that the experts in repetitive, confined living aboard the ISS are enabled by strict routines that move them through the day, I decided that I would try to bring some of this into my daily life. Here are some of the best routines that I've developed and want to keep, even when my life gets back to normal.

Pizza Night

Seriously. This is such a basic thing, but especially early on in the stay-at-home orders, it was fantastic to look forward to pizza on Saturday. We made dough according to the Roberta's recipe, we experimented with other flours, and we ordered out. No matter what, Saturdays are for pizza, and it's a fantastic way to anchor the weekend. Also, pizza is excellent for replacing all those calories you burned off...

Coffee Corner

Apparently, many of my favorite routines are food-related, but as something that we do every day, why shouldn't we create some sense of order around food? We took the step of making a coffee corner on our counter with all of the beans and brew supplies. Now, every morning, I can come downstairs, pitch the dog outside and make a cup of coffee. Before, I was a regular at the neighborhood coffee shops, and I fully expect to go back as we can, but this first cup brew is now a crucial part of my day, and, let's face it, it's a cost-saver.

Journal writing

In tandem with my coffee, I have started writing in at least one of two journals every day. One is a straightforward blank page that I just dump thoughts onto, and the other is a template-based journal that sets out intentions, gratitude, and tasks for the day. This routine is massively important to me because it allows me to turn down the noise that's in my head and get the creative muscles going.

Midday Workout

When we all began to work from home, the nine-to-five routine was completely disrupted. Whether we're responding to the needs of family members, or just going with the flow of our own energies, for the Buddy team, working from home has opened up the day a bit. I had previously tried to cram exercise into the start of the day or the end of the day, just so that I didn't have to take as much time away from the team. After some experimentation, I've realized that my physical energy is strongest in the middle of the day. The workouts have gone from the gym or yoga studio to the living room or the backyard, and the tools are now kettlebells, sandbags, and bodyweight. So far, so good. I can still work up a sweat, and since I'm at home, lunch and the shower after the workout are much simpler, and I can get back to work refreshed. To be honest, some days, I skip the shower.

Fire Pits

We have a small backyard, but it's big enough for a fire pit on the back patio, and this has become one of our favorite hangouts. The ritual of starting the fire, the fresh air, and the chance to sit down with one another is a welcome decompression at the end of a day. No, we aren't super-strict about device-free time, but it's a way to sit together and share what's going on in our lives that's free from the feeling of cabin fever that we are all working through these days. For an hour or two, we can just pretend we're camping and enjoy the pop and crackle of the logs.

These things are small actions, and while they have not necessarily created a higher order of well-being (yet?) in my life, recognizing them and identifying what it is about each ritual that makes it gratifying has been a valuable exercise. When I am able to get back to a life that's more mobile, and when there are more externalities to my schedule to manage, hopefully some of these habits and rituals can follow me out of quarantine and help keep me anchored in my daily life.

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