How to Handle Changes to Your Routine

For three months, my husband and I have been on a strict 6AM-3PM workweek schedule, and we've loved every minute of it.

But on Monday, it’s all going to change (quite unexpectedly). He has to switch back to a 2PM-11PM shift, the one he worked before this. That shift was a strain on our health, our relationship, and our productivity, so this is not a welcome change.

The best we can say is that at least he still has a job.

The unexpected disruptions

Disruptions can throw you off in a major way, whether it's something life-changing, or it's as small as having to take a new route to work.

When it comes as a surprise, the most natural response is to feel like it’s personal. I found myself resisting the change at first (we had a week’s notice), but I realized that the new schedule wouldn’t care whether or not I was angry about it.

The new schedule just is.

Planning instead of reacting

Our priority is to be proactive about the change. Instead of just showing up on Monday morning and trying to figure things out then, we’re looking at what we currently have on our plate and shifting it around.

This is going to mean that we have to plan (and pre-cook) more meals, so Sundays will be different. We’re also going to see each other less, so we have to plan out how to optimize our weekends. And finally, we’re going to have to make some adjustments to our exercise routine.

If you’re facing this type of change too, you might have to readjust your goals. That can be stressful and depressing, so try to discover where you can make more progress than you were able to before. For example, this change might help us run together more often since we’ll have time in the cool morning weather again.

Communicate until you cannot communicate anymore

With disruptions like this, it’s essential to communicate with your partner, friends or family about how it’s going to work.

My husband and I share any concerns we have about the new schedule, and also try to find the bright side wherever we can. We’re sharing what each of us plan to do individually once the schedule changes, and outline where we believe this might add tension (or relief!) on us as a couple.

It’s an effort, not a plan

Remember: at first, this is not going to be a routine. It’s going to be a constant effort to remain in your new schedule as completely and efficiently as you can. 

At the end of the first week, evaluate how you spent your time. How does that stack up to where you want it to be? If it’s missing the mark, reevaluate your plans for the next week. Continue to revise and correct where you can, and allow yourself a lot of grace during those first few weeks of the new schedule.

In time, you’ll create a new routine. Or you can do what we’re doing and actively seek ways to reinstate the old routine (hello, job search, how we love you).

This disruption can either be a bump in the road, or it can be the catalyst for the next step of your life. It’s up to you.

How do you handle disruptions to your routine?