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from sleep to structure

establishing (mostly) reliable sleep routines can have some fairly magical effects; on one hand you actually feel better during the day (or at the very least, you yawn less), and on the other you subtly introduce elements of structure to your life.

why is structure important?

go back a few years (quite a few now) and I would have told you that structure was restrictive, that it got in the way of a free-flowing existence, and essentially made life boring. Maybe I thought I was being “edgy” or something, pushing back against the system or whatever… but mainly I was just. simple. wrong.

the process of becoming a runner taught me that structure is what enables better use of time, and better use of time is what enables doing more with life. that old cliche, in many ways, that we all get the same number of minutes per day and the only difference is what we do with those minutes.

anyway, it’s structure that makes that stuff possible.

what do you mean “structure”?

it’s up to you, really. are you someone who actually likes having your day laid out as a highly detailed, minute-by-minute timetable? if so, do that. however, if you’re like me, you’ll most likely appreciate taking a slightly lighter approach in the first instance, and then let things build from there. you know, one step at a time!

for example, let’s say you’ve set your sleep routines so that you generally go to bed around 10-10:30 each night, waking somewhere between 5:30 and 6am. this leaves 6am to 10pm as the hours that you’re conscious, aware, and capable of doing things.

so let’s start by blocking out your workday – for argument’s sake, 9am to 5pm, pad that out with 30-60 minutes before and after (commute time), and you’re left with two segments for your work days; 6am to 8am, and 6pm to 10pm.

maybe you want to get some physical activity done in the morning, and still have time to get ready for work. so you might split that morning block in half.

then maybe you want to include a bit of meditation in your life, work on a “passion project”, read a book, indulge in some TV, perhaps even take the dog for a walk in the evening to help wind down… so how about this.. split the evening into 3 blocks of 1 hour, 2 hours, and 1 hour respectively.

what does this look like?

6am get up, go for a run, swim, walk, gym session etc.

7am breakfast, get ready for work

8am commute

9am to 5pm work (structure your workday in whatever way suits what you do)

5pm commute

6pm eat, watch TV, do a bit of reading, take the dog for a walk etc.

7pm to 9pm passion project time

9pm wind down, meditate, maybe this would be the dog walk time?

10pm dream sweet dreams 😀

make it your own!

let’s be honest, some days will be different to others, things will crop up, life will require you to adapt. and your weekends are going to look different (probably?) but something resembling the above “plan” will take you from the idea of setting sleep routines/habits to putting a clearer shape on the whole 24 hour period.

oh and one last tip… you can probably tell from the way I laid it out, but unless your passion project and your work are the same thing, use the commute times as buffers between work and the rest of your life. that’s all there really is to “work/life balance”, it’s not complicated!

anyway, give it a go, tweak it to suit your own circumstances, and I am sure you’ll soon start to see the benefits.

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