Maintaining A Routine: Boredom is Distracting!

Road with a stormy sky including the title Maintaining A Routine
Maintaining a Routine is key!

As we all go through the pandemic at home, we are faced with a lot of challenges that are not as simple when there is very little freedom or privacy. Maintaining a routine that replaces your time at work can help organize you and create a little bit of sanity in a world full of uncertainty.

One of the toughest things I think cancer survivors and patients have difficulty with is adapting a routine that allows them to feel secure within time. We don’t know what the next day is going to present us. A routine gives organization to a chaotic world and can help create a purpose for individuals. This is now a massive challenge for millions of Americans who are unemployed due to COVID 19.

So the question is how do you create and maintain a routine that your previous work title or job offered you? How are you going to prepare yourself and become more valuable to future employers, business opportunities, entrepreneurship or creative expression?

A routine is a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.

iPhone Dictionary

How bored are you being cooped up inside? What have you done to learn a new skill? What have you done to find deeper meaning and purpose in your life? Are you learning skills to start your own business and switch from being an employee to an employer/entrepreneur? Do you feel the need to help or teach people?

If you said yes to any of these questions above, you need to build a routine that will help you achieve these goals and aspirations.

This especially pertains to those of us that are in the middle of treatment or have just finished up treatment.

Did you have a biopsy? Perhaps you have a port surgically placed? Maybe a recent PET scan to assess where your disease is at? Did you start chemo or radiation? 

Having a routine dramatically helps how much anxiety you will go through when facing all the tests and procedures laid out in front of you. 

Here are six ways to create and maintain a routine to start helping you focus on solving the Dilemma of boredom and loneliness for cancer survivors and for those struggling with this covid19 epidemic.

Click above to watch the video.

Sacrifice the Distractions 

This is a really tough one. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized just how much time I’ve wasted on watching TV and spending time on my smart phone with apps that are designed to distract and suck up the most finite element each and every one of us has. Time! 

I made a promise to myself years ago I would use these apps as tools to build and share information that I learned while going through lymphoma. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really easy for me to get sucked into the world of Facebook and Instagram. Wasting hours a day. That’s exactly what the owners and founders of these applications want. Your Time!

The goal isn’t to spend the exact time you used to work at your job doing something else, just reallocating your time to do things that will help benefit you in the long run. Whether that’s starting a new business, getting into an exercise routine, or sharing your experiences through online chat rooms. It all depends on what your intention is. 

Since I am in the high percentage of having complications due to my lymphoma and the Coronavirus, I am on attached unemployment till early summer as this pandemic works its way through. So this spare time that I have, I’m using to help share my knowledge with people that may be struggling more than I am mentally. And by utilizing the amount of time wasted and time not at my JOB, I am focusing that time on doing something good. 

If you spend a couple of hours helping others, a couple of hours learning about your biggest interest and a couple of hours playing with your kids, there’s your workday right there. And best of all you will feel accomplished and satisfied with how you spent your time that day.

What do you want to learn? 

There are so many resources at our fingertips these days. Whether you want to learn how to work on a vehicle or learn woodworking or even become informed in local politics or learn about horticulture. It doesn’t matter what your interests are, only that you spend time wanting to learn more about them. 

In 2015, I decided I wanted to share my story by writing and self-publishing a book. I was motivated by wanting to learn the process of how. So on a vacation for my oldest stepdaughters senior class trip, I downloaded a handful of Kindle books that explained how to self publish. This lit a fire of Interest and over the course of about 60 days, I wrote the bulk of my first book Internal Architect. 

 I learned about outlining, grammar and spelling. Layout and copywriting. Went through the editing process with an editor and what it takes to self-publish on a digital platform. I have learned the skills purely through a desire and curiosity that ultimately help me share my cancer story with the world. My expectations were that of learning the process, not about being a best-selling author or being a featured artist on the Oprah Winfrey show. 

Time Management Discipline

How willing are you to stick to this routine, day in and day out for weeks, months and years on end? What’s nice about having and creating a routine you can stick to doesn’t mean that it has to be set in stone. It can be fluid and it can be interchangeable. But the goal is to have discipline in the free time that you have.

During my work week before the pandemic, the goal was to do my Job to the best of my ability and learn something new. After work, the goal was to do something every single day to share my knowledge about cancer in my experience. Whether that is through the creative spirit of my YouTube channel or grinding out the work of turning my videos into blog posts. The goal every single day is to do a little bit of something that progress my “WHY”

I’ve answered this question at a very deep philosophical level for myself, And because of that, this path has led me to a place where I have deep meaning into my life’s purpose. I want to help others that are struggling with the mental challenges that come along with cancer. Cancer Survivorship is not for the faint! 

This has been one of the biggest lessons for me. I’ve always been a pretty free-spirited person, always going with the flow. But I never had something I cared so much about teach me discipline at such a deep level. Discipline has been one of the hardest lessons! 

Click HERE to watch the video I created about Time Management Discipline!

What’s your hobby or passion?

I understand I have said some harsh things about social media in the past. To be honest with you, I still stand strong by those opinions. But it’s a necessary evil in the digital world. There has to be something that you just love to do, just time hasn’t allowed. 

Cancer has been a big part of my life for almost a quarter of it. I think about cancer, everyday. Even when I was in remission, I thought about how my life has changed because of cancer. 

That’s what’s so nice about having a hobby, passion or even purpose, it makes you want to go do it. It makes you get up in the morning. 

Now breaking habits is tough because us humans ultimately are creatures of habit. And none of us have seen a pandemic like this even in my father’s generation. 

If you build a routine around this thing, it becomes a lifestyle, way of life. All I’m saying is that when you re-allocate your time to something that is important to you, it spurs creativity. 

So I’ve created a routine for all the things that are important in my life. Along with making sure to take care of the responsibilities that we acquire as adults. 

Continuous Action 

This is one of the toughest parts of maintaining a routine. But it is also why you are in a routine to begin with. Think about it, when you’re at work, you have a routine that you do to accomplish the tasks that are put in front of you. You have to take continuous action in order to make the routine effective. 

So how do you make this work when you’re going through cancer or even through a pandemic? This is where time management discipline comes into play. By being disciplined with your time on a hobby or passion, you will see the effects compound over time. 

Let’s take the restoration of a car for example. Say you find a beat up 68 Charger that needs a ground-up restoration. When you are starting, you have to figure out a place to begin. Now this could be any area on the vehicle but most likely you will need to start by taking the wheels off. you learn a process as you begin and as you continue to move forward. Then you take the hood off the engine compartment, you remove the bumper, grill and radiator to give you access to the motor. 

Soon you will have this old 68 Charger down to its bare bones. Then the process of rebuilding begins. You clean up all the rust. Source out old parts that are broken and need to be replaced. and during this process, you might even learn a new skill or two like welding.  

Overtime that continuous action will show the fruits of its labor and at the end of the project you will have a beautiful 68 Charger built how you want it. But the only way you’re going to see a fully restored 68 Charger is if you take continuous action through a routine overtime. 

Positive Benefit

By taking continuous action, and seeing results from the effort you put in, no matter how small, feels good. It’s like giving yourself a personal project to work on. A positive one. Then it starts affecting other parts of life. It gets addicting. The benefits are really good. And in a way, this is one of the elements into personal growth that can be so profound. 

Routines are one of those things that we take advantage of. Often becoming complacent and lazy. I’m so guilty of this it makes me laugh. But you learn and you recognise the mistakes.

As a cancer patient and survivor, having routines means I have a focus on something greater than myself. Working to share my story and my experiences with those that are new to the Cancer Experience. 

Routines have added structure into a life that has been filled with chaos and uncertainty for over a decade. Having routines that surround a purpose has been one of the most enlightening and meaningful things I’ve ever done in my life. 

Our JOBS and work environment don’t necessarily help with this unless you absolutely love the JOB you work at. This has taught us the basics of what a routine means in our lives. 

We wake up, start our day by our morning routine, go through a routine to get to work. Then we have a work routine that we do all day. There’s a routine we do on the way home. Another routine when we get home and then a routine to go to bed. That’s what I mean by becoming complacent. A metaphor I’m thinking of is the movie “Groundhog’s Day”. 

Sure there might be some exercise in there, time with the family but at the end of the day, it’s all part of a routine that we have systematically ingrained in our life habits.

All I’m saying is with this time we have in isolation and quarantine, we have a choice.

1. We can continue the status quo and hope for a life that will go back to normal.

Or 2. We can do something that is meaningful and productive not only for ourselves but for all of those around us. 

I’ve chosen 2!

About the Author

Todd Franzen is a Stage 4 Lymphoma Survivor. Living in Breckenridge Colorado

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