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Rediscovering the joy of having a routine


By Alina Haritonova, Consultant

I’ve always enjoyed being busy. I got my first part-time job when I started A-levels at 17, and by the time I got to university, I started teaching and doing freelance translations ‘in my spare time’. I’ve always taken an immense sense of satisfaction out of fitting things in and juggling multiple tasks, and my worst kind of weekend would be lying on the sofa in front of the TV.

When the lockdown abruptly started, I felt like my old life full of travels, Friday office drinks, exhibitions, dinner and house parties with friends, weekend gym sessions and movie nights at Cine Lumiere with my husband had come to an end. 

After having four of our trips cancelled and several friends’ weddings indefinitely postponed, I realised that suddenly, I had very little to look forward to or plan, which felt very disorientating. 

I quickly realised that what I needed was a new routine, to keep me motivated and help navigate these weird, anxiety-inducing times. I started waking up half an hour earlier every morning to do YouTube workouts, go for regular 30-minute walks at lunch time and head for longer walks at the end of every workday to clear my head and catch up with my mum over a phone call.

Sticking to this basic routine every day, day after day, has helped my life retain a semblance of normality during the lockdown. Once the structure of my days had been restored, another uncomfortable thought hit me: with pretty much all cultural entertainment, apart from reading, unavailable, my creative side had entered a process of quiet stagnation. 

With thousands of people on social media talking about their newly discovered hobbies, I was at a loss. Yes, I would love to get into pottery, but is this really something I can try from my living room? Out. How about drawing? After the first attempt at unleashing my inner Picasso I got reassured that doing things with my hands still wasn’t my forte.

It was frustrating. Until the moment when I realised that there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Working in property PR and being exposed to dozens of impressive developments, I’ve long been fascinated by architecture and design. Plus, having recently redecorated my flat, I’ve spent hours sifting through websites in search of the perfect media unit. So, it turned out my new area of interest was right in front of me the whole time.

After a bit of digging, I found an online course in interior design with a flexible schedule and regular assignments (to keep me busy and leave no room for escape) and enrolled.

It’s only the beginning of a new (online) journey, but I’m already putting together lists of the finest examples of period architecture across the UK. I may no longer be travelling to Barcelona, Tokyo or Kiev, but a bike ride to Spencer House sounds pretty good to me.