A New Priority; A New Routine; A New Me?

Jennifer Donovan
Sh*t I Wanna Say Before I Die
4 min readFeb 12, 2023
Photo Credit: Indu BachKheti, istockphoto.com. Image Description: A hand holding an alarm clock in space. Half of the clock has disappeared into stardust.

I have yet to establish, let alone maintain any routine that has helped me to do all the things I actually want to do in my life on any sort of a consistent basis. Here are the things I truly want to do on a daily, or at least a more regular basis: get 7 hours of good sleep; exercise; write; spend quality time with my husband; spend quality time with my dogs; spend quality time with my friends. Here are the things I have to do: work; eat; pay bills. Then there is the pesky “should” do list which is dominated by one item that should be simple, but I find utterly overwhelming: maintain a clean and tidy house.

None of this should be hard. These are the mundane to-do items that make up the daily existence of most people I know. What I usually do is prioritize work, not only in the hours I do it, but the emotional energy I pour into it. That leaves less time and less emotional energy for the things that are truly important to me: writing, my husband, my dogs, and my friends.

I always feel like I am being “cheated” out of my time, so during work, I take breaks to scroll social media or play a game on my phone, which then puts me behind, so I usually end up working longer hours. Then I stay up way too late watching TV or scrolling on my phone, and then I don’t get enough sleep, and then I start the next day with an energy deficit. Most of what little energy I have, I pour into my job: wash, rinse, and repeat. This behavior, when centered around delaying bedtime, actually has a name: “revenge bedtime procrastination”. Since I also do it throughout my day, I guess I have generalized life revenge procrastination?

I love working from home, but since I have begun doing so, in many ways, establishing a routine has become even harder. In large part, it is because I haven’t taken the time to reevaluate or reimagine my life and daily routine from this very new perspective, place, and time I am now currently in. I am simply running on autopilot from years of habit and self-neglect.

When I first transitioned to working from home at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, like most people, I thought it would be a short, temporary break from the daily routine of commuting. That morphed into a year of fear and uncertainty; followed by a vaccine (yay!); discussions of reopening the office (boo!); to new virus variants (boo!); to booster shots (yay!). All the while, plans to reopen the office ramped up; stalled; reversed; ramped up again; reversed again; stalled again, and eventually turned into a hybrid model that now means on a permanent basis, I work from home, only having to go into the office a few times a year.

I no longer have to wake up at 5:30 or 6:00am and commute for nearly two hours. I have an extra nearly 4 hours a day, and yet, I still can’t get my sh*t together. Now that I am in this new space and time, I need to take the time to reevaluate my daily routine.

When I look at my daily “wants”, the outlier from most other people’s daily routine is my desire to write. I have historically deprioritized writing because it is my hobby. While I have gotten into the habit of writing down thoughts, phrases, and ideas multiple times a day, I still relegate writing longer, more cohesive pieces to weekends. This takes away from time I could be spending with friends, my husband, and/or maintaining a clean and tidy house. So, my cycle of revenge stealing my time from my employer and myself continues. But if I really am going to share all of the Sh*t I Wanna Say Before I Die, I need to prioritize writing and sharing that sh*t!

So, my new goal is to create a daily routine centered around writing and build the rest of my day out from there. Maybe that will be the key to me finally establishing a routine I can stick to, and maybe even a happier and healthy life — wish me luck!

What are the things you prioritize in your daily routine? What do you center? Do you even have a daily routine, and if not, how is that helpful to you?