My Quaroutine

As part of compliance with ongoing local public health regulations, I’ve put most of my travelling aspirations on hold and have been sheltering-in-place for the last couple of months. At first, it was quite challenging – the lack of freedom was stifling and I was a bit lost as to what I should remain focused on. However, given time and by practicing a bit of gratitude, I realized my position was relatively quite fortunate and I began looking for ways to make the most of my copious amounts of newfound (especially since retirement) time.

I knew that the most proven recommendation for sanity would require developing a strict daily routine (and maybe some physical boundaries as well). However, I value sleep to an extreme degree and really did not want to enforce an alarm every morning. I find that I’m in much better spirits and far more productive during my waking hours if I just allow myself to fall asleep and wake whenever my body’s circadian rhythm compels me to. This definitely resulted in some bizarre sleep cycles during the first few weeks, but I eventually stabilized to a very comfortable 9-10 hour pattern (~1am to ~11am).

I had a few goals and skills I knew I wanted to develop, but I was also hesitant to slot work into a schedule for the same times every day. Partially due to the sleep concerns mentioned above, but also because some of my other obligations do require interrupts at random times I cannot change or delay. I decided to compromise a bit and create a set of activities I would set aside time for each day, without dictating exactly when they needed to happen throughout the day.

The result is my “quaroutine” – a semi-schedule of activities that I make sure I have time for each day, without necessarily knowing exactly when or in what order they happen. (Though in practice, they typically happen in the order listed because that’s how I remember them.)

Daily Recurring Activities

Chinese (Mandarin) language lesson with Pimsleur1 hour
Meditation session with Headspace~15 minutes
Exercise with Trainiac and a pull-up bar~30 minutes
Study for the GRE1-4 hours
Read curated articles from Feedly1 hour
Watch YouTube subscribed channels~1 hour
Social media interaction1-2 hours
Between sleep and meals, this is what I make time for every day

Occasional Activities

Of course, there are the random events, deeper work, or other obligations that are scattered throughout my days as well, so I thought I might as well catalogue them here as well.

Educational webinars or public meetings4-5 hours/week
Reading/writing long-form content6-8 hours/week
Listening to podcasts/audiobooks2-3 hours/week
Dealing with finances / real estate8-10 hours/week
Playing video games5-10 hours/week

Between the regularly recurring activities and the more sporadic ones, I find that I’m able to keep occupied pretty much all the time without getting overloaded. No boredom, no burnout, plenty of time for sleep, and a sense of fulfillment and progress towards goals every day.

This has actually made quarantine quite enjoyable, and I could see myself continuing a variant of this even if I wasn’t immured at home. Of course this would be harder to maintain if given a schedule from an external organization (i.e. an employer or school) – but I’ll enjoy it while I can. 😁

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