I recently downloaded an app called Streaks. In it, you can list goals and activities you want to try to accomplish every day, and the app will keep track of how many days you do them, hence the streaks (in case anybody thought the app was about putting streaks in your hair). Before all the craziness hit, I was using the app faithfully, doing things like reading a book and going to the gym every day with increasing regularity. However, I am ashamed to admit that sometimes I did cheat and check off things I hadn’t done in a day; my daily work schedule sometimes meant that I would get home late and not have enough time to practice an instrument daily, or I was too tired and didn’t have it in me to work on the machines at the gym. Since quarantine, the app has transformed from a helpful tool into my daily planner: with all the free time I have now during the day, I have no excuse to not get everything in the app done. And as someone who likes to meticulously plan, it’s nice to have a visual checklist of things I’d like to accomplish on a daily basis.
However, recently I’ve started seeing the downsides of this tool. Since I’ve been relying on this app so much during the quarantine, I’ve found that my days have become almost monotonous. Every day I get up, I think about how I’m going to accomplish all my daily tasks and how early I can do so (I know I just described the process of being an adult, but this is different, I promise). For example, If I don’t get a certain number of steps in by noon, I’ll consider myself behind schedule and start jogging in place like I’m warming up to run a marathon. If I feel the need to get something done that I may not be looking forward to, such as stretching, I’ll rush through it and not get the full effect. When I’m practicing an instrument such as a guitar, I’ll mentally beat myself up if I wasn’t able to practice for more time than I did yesterday. Honestly, sometimes things that should be fun activities are in danger of turning into burdensome chores.
Now you may be thinking, you sound miserable, why don’t you stop doing this? And yes, there are downsides to having a rigorous schedule every day, but there are also several positives I’d like to highlight. First and most importantly, having a set schedule means that I am constantly busy, which helps to take my mind off of all the chaos that’s happening in the world. Next, I tend to be someone who, when faced with free time, tends to get into a slump where all I do is look at my phone. Having a list of things that I need to do keeps me focused on achieving my daily goals and off my phone. Finally (and this is something that I have to keep reminding myself), you can only get better doing something every day. For example, while I may feel like the worst player in the world whenever I’m practicing guitar, I try to remember that I’ll never get better by moping about how terrible I am and wishing I could be better. Instead, I play every day, knowing that by practicing every day I’m slowly getting better. During these difficult and uncertain times, having a set routine honestly helps me get through, and though I may get tired of it sometimes, I know that in the end it will benefit me greatly.