Routine Reconstruction

Whilst I’ve been very fortunate to have not been significantly affected in most ways by the pandemic and lockdown, I’ve come to realise that some of my regular routines have shifted, and made it more difficult to keep things flowing.

Photography to some extent, and writing, to a greater extent, are my main activities, outside of work and family, and both have lost some of their regularity in my life.

This week, we’re embarking on numerous changes.

Schools are back for the first time in nearly six months, with our middle son returning to the same (primary) school, and our oldest daughter starting secondary.

My wife is returning to work (also in school) after an unexpectedly long maternity leave, and so our youngest (15 months) will embark on different childcare arrangements throughout the week, involving my wife and I, a grandparent, an aunty and a neighbour who’s also a professional child minder.

Our middle son also resumes fully his three nights a week trampolining, which involves further juggling, to-ing and fro-ing.

My own work, already around 50/50 between working from home (WFH) and office since a few months back, will be stretched and shaped further both to weave in the above commitments, and run the tricky rota at work to ensure everyone has equal time at home and at work – even though some have embraced WFH hugely more enthusiastically than others.

Needless to say, much will be changing, compared with what’s been in some ways an idyllically relaxed few months, and we plan to quickly build new routines into our lives to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible.

Into this mix comes my photography and writing.

In the past I typically went for a photowalk at least one day of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, though this has been more erratic recently. 

There’s no reason why this can’t return, however.

I used to write most when my son was at his trampolining, as the club’s wi-fi was free and more than enough for my WordPress needs.

Over each week, I’d manage at least three, maybe four hours of solid writing time. 

Again this has been far more hit and miss more recently, and even with returning to three sessions a week, the club is no longer allowing parents to stay in the building (or even enter it). 

So I can either come home (25 mins each way, so something of a waste of time and fuel) or set up some kind of writing arrangement in the car outside with a borrowed Chromebook hooked up to my phone’s wi-fi hotspot.

Do-able, but not ideal. Especially as the evenings turn cooler too. 

Plus one of the days I’ll have our youngest boy, so he won’t want to sit patiently in the car whilst I write, and I’ll likely bring him home in between.

My draft plan is to set aside at least two, perhaps three, evenings a week where I can spend 90 minutes writing, after everything else is done – school, work, homework, eating, showers, reading and so on.

We’ll see how this goes in the coming days and weeks.

It might be that I write and publish less, which isn’t something I want to do, as I love writing and it does give me valuable downtime from the day to day.

And photography is almost as fundamental too, and not something I intend to neglect. 

How about you? How do your photography and writing schedules fit in with the rest of your life? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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17 thoughts on “Routine Reconstruction”

  1. I push myself to write every day, and I tend to do it before my day starts, just so I get it out of the way before life hits me in the face and I try to put out all the fires for the day. If I wait till the end of the day to do it, I might never end up writing, because there’s always something that needs my attention.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Thanks Stuart, yeh I used to do this, and it might be something to get back to. I would have to get up pretty early (5 or earlier) to get some writing in before the rest of the household started to stir, but I do like that feeling of having got something useful and creative done before starting any of the regular routines of work/school etc.

    2. I think this is an excellent way to approach it, Stuart. Given that I now have four extra hours in my day from not commuting, I find I have more time for photography, blogging, and finally actually reading a book.

      1. Reading a book seems like such a difficult thing to do. I have good intentions of reading and finishing a book every couple of weeks, but in practice read only perhaps once a fortnight, if that! I guess it’s easier to read shorter chunks online.

      1. My occasional bouts of insomnia destroy it — either I sleep in or I’m too groggy to do it, But otherwise, it’s my time and little can touch it.

      2. When I’ve got into a morning routine before (maybe a year ago, getting up at 5 to do my daily yoga before everyone one else was up around 6) it’s worked well. I just need to start, rather than stay in bed until 6 or 615.

  2. It feels like my photography and writing have been piece work since the pandemic started (a certain irony in that these past few months have been surprisingly productive for me on the journal) but now I feel even more of a change coming. My boys have started remote learning (their first day was Friday but today’s a national holiday in the U.S.) and at the moment I’m feeling a little like a glorified proctor on continuous standby for the inevitable technology snafus (there have been plenty already) and keeping both of them on task as much as possible, particularly my eight year old. Doing my own teaching with both of them…..filling in gaps, as it were. Their mom’s in a leadership position at her work and she has no choice but to focus heavily on that right now, keeping the ship right. so the three of us boys are really in charge

    On wordpress, I’ve been feeling the inner urge to withdraw a little….. focus more on the pleasures of reading the writing of others, admiring their photography, leaving notes, doing some learning. everything for myself is pretty secondary right now. in the u.s. we’re going through such a national trauma with the pandemic and pent-up social unrest, that anything I have to say seems puny and trivial to the point of embarrassment. my main free time is devoted to a little exercise and lots of reading. so I think i’m taking this as a chance to put some time into my Flickr site, try to share things there, on a daily basis. the simplicity of that might be just what I need. And I want to get some film and practice with my dad’s old minolta (one of the reasons why I like reading Jim G. above, so much).

    You’ve been an inspiration for me to keep journaling. a few years ago it was you and Heide/Heather (who stepped away from blogging last year after a pretty good, long run) who singlehandedly revived me! I don’t think I’d dream of giving up my journal anymore but I’m struggling with relevancy right now.

    1. I can relate to the writing and photography being a bit more piecemeal these days.

      Funny you say “the boys are really in charge”. My ldest son Max sometimes says me, him and my youngest son are all brothers. We explain that the two boys are brothers but I am their father. We’re not sure if he’s winding us up or is genuinely confused about relationships!

      I think with the state of the world (we have similar pandemic issues with the positive tests rising daily, and related unrest) it’s exactly the time people appreciate the small, friendly corners of the internet, in which I would include my blog and yours. Many of us are sick of the negative news and want to stay connected with people who are creative, positive and interesting. So I disagree myself about what you post being trivial, and I’m sure many others would too.

      I’m not sure you need to be “relevant” to anything or anyone but yourself, first and foremost. People connect with others who are genuine and open.

  3. From my perspective, absolutely nothing has changed in terms of risk from COVID. When this all started, I mourned and explained to my wife that it would be a good five years before until a vaccine could be adequately tested and proved safe. My kids are in college from home this semester (and the end of the last semester as well), and my eldest fully expects to graduate remotely.

    If I had younger kids, I would not send them back to school or allow them to participate in any group activities. That has already proved to be a failure in many southern “Bible belt” states in the USA, and now it seems the colleges are closing again.

    As for work, it has been 182 days since the New York, Longdon and New Jersey offices were closed. The company has re-opened all three offices giving employees a choice of IF to return. Of the 35 people on the cyber-security team (all risk management), only six have decided to return to an office. Most of us commute via trains and ferry and have no interest in spending two hours in a tin can sucking down COVID fumes.

    So that means that my blogging and photography routines are limited to subjects and places where there are few to no people. There is quite a lot of time for both. More so than when I had to commute two-hours (one-way door to door) to Manhattan leaving at 6 AM to catch the train, then another train, then a ferry to Wall Street, and then do the reverse in the evening, finally arriving back at home just before 7 PM. And that’s assuming the trains ran on time or didn’t break down.

    Quite frankly, I’ll be happy if I never set foot inside another office. How can anyone enjoy working in a space like this?

    1. Sounds like home working has brought you many benefits, not least of all saving all that commuting time. Are you able to do your work fully from home?

      We were quite fortunate at my work (a local authority) in that we’ve been leading up to a new electronic system for the last couple of years and it launched as planned in April. We can now do 95% of our work remotely, as long as we have our laptops and an internet connection. The old system was paper maps and documents in the office so it would have been impossible.

      Another local authority over here have in effect sent all of their staff home permanently to work, and have started to rent out the entire office site to other companies to recoup some of the income lost during lockdown. I can see others doing the same, but surely then there will be a saturation point where there’s a glut of office space with not enough people wanting to fill it as they can work at home.

      1. With very few exceptions, all IT related work can be done remotely. The entire team developing the platform your blog is hosted on, WordPress , is remote and has been for decades.

        The Uk based company I consult for is a financial market utility (FMU). We’ve been 100 💯 % remote since March with half the the company in the USA. Management have said productivity increased. Wall Street had Fed mandated pandemic, hurricane and terrorism planning in place to allow continuity of operations for three months. The company activated it in March. The company have reopened office and given employees a choice of coming in. Less than 20% are doing it. Employees want to do it permanently.

      2. I think the majority of people here who have found working from home (WFH) is possible want to continue, for at least part of their working week. I was reading today though about the disparities between the set ups people have at home though and how it’s creating new issues. You might have someone younger say who can only afford a studio apartment (basically one main room for cooking, eating, living, sleeping, plus a bathroom) and they end up working on a laptop sitting on their bed all day, which isn’t good for anyone physically. Whereas if/when they had an office desk, they were equally well equipped as others in the office. Other factors like the views/light available, your internet connection, the general comfort of your home, how many people you live with (who may also have increased home working needs – a month back I regularly shared the dining table with two kids doing home schooling for parts of the day) and so on are all factors coming to the surface with the increased population WFH. It’s great, and I’m all for expanding it to more of us, but additional factors need to be considered by employers – and employees – and changes made need to be made to make it sustainable longer term.

  4. I have a wife that makes up plans out of thin air sometimes. Right now I have several projects around the house that she envisioned… so it’s very hard to plan things like that. Otherwise I’d be writing, playing and taking more pictures.
    But in this season of my life, I mostly just find a way to sneak some picture taking here and there.
    I’m sure a lot will change once the kids grow up… depending on where we are then. She would love to live by the beach, something I would definitely not object to…

    1. Yeh I don’t fit so well with the sneak some pictures here and there approach. I used to try to do this during lunchtime walks at work, but couldn’t properly relax into it as I was always watching the clock. I prefer to have dedicated sessions/walks of at least 60 mins to fully enjoy photography. I’d rather have one of these a week than snatch ten minutes every day.

      1. If I have 15 minutes, and it takes me 10 to warm up, it’s still worth it for the remaining 5… and the truth is I’ll usually be able to sneak in at least 15 at a time.
        If I only have less than 15 I’ll usually shoot anyway but it’s almost guaranteed that the pictures will be bad.

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