Do You Need a Daily Routine?
That’s a loaded question, isn’t it? People resist the idea of creating a daily routine because they don’t want to risk limiting life. However, a solid daily routine can give you more freedom than you’d ever expect.
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Once you’ve established a schedule, your life gets much easier. It can be more fun, too, since you’ll have the freedom of more time to do the things you truly love!
Imagine for a moment what it would look like if there were no structure in the workplace or school. No rules, no set schedule, no expectations. For a little while, it might be fun, but after a while, it turns into complete chaos. Your home life is no different. And, if you work from home, you must have a routine that assists you in getting things done when they need to be done. If you don’t have one, you’ll waste hours each day spinning your wheels while scrambling to figure out what to do next!
With no structure, life just falls apart. It might fall into lots of Netflix binging and ordering takeout, even though you really did have time to cook. It might crumble into a messy house for days in a row because you didn’t plan time into your day to clean up. At the very least, it will fall apart into a whole lot of upset and confusion while you cry in the bathroom because you’re so overwhelmed and stressed out that you can’t function any longer!
Have I convinced you? If so, let’s chat about how to take the chaos and create an orderly routine that really works for YOU!
The biggest obstacle most people face when creating a routine is the hurdle of how to make it actually work. Each one of us has a unique and individual life, with a set of challenges that is different for every person. This means that there is no one-size-fits-all daily routine.
So, let’s talk about how to create your perfect daily routine.
Start with a Brain Dump
Take a few days and write down everything that you need to do, everything that you did do, and everything that you think you’d like to accomplish. Consider your values and your needs, your family’s needs, and your work needs. Get it ALL out there on paper where you can look over it and prioritize.
Nothing is too small to include on these lists. At this point, it’s better to consider every little detail. You may or may not need to schedule time to brush your teeth, but if you think it might be helpful, write it in!
If you have a bullet journal, you can keep this whole process contained in a few pages of your journal. This makes planning a breeze since you will have instant access to all your lists as you plan out each week and month!
Organize Your Lists
Now that you’ve made a long list of everything in your life, it’s time to organize those lists. Create categories based on types of activities, the people involved, whether travel time is necessary, etc. Create lists for house projects, work-related activities, kids’ school and after-school activities.
Ask yourself what things have to happen every day, and make a special list for those. Note down appointments or tasks that occur weekly or monthly.
Finally, evaluate what is important to you. Assess the things that HAVE to happen each day so that bills get paid and mouths get fed, and rank your lists based on what you know is most important.
Time of Day Matters
Next, think about how you function throughout the day. Are you a morning person who gets up early and has lots of energy to get things done first thing? Great! Your day will look very different from the person who has a hard time waking up and who doesn’t function until the third cup of coffee.
Divide the day into several large blocks: Morning, midday, afternoon, and evening is a common way to break up the day. Assign start and end times to each block, and make sure that if you have any major time limits each day, you are thinking ahead to how those fit into your overall time blocks (i.e. dropping off or picking up kids from school).
Plan for Flex Time
There will always be unexpected circumstances. Make sure you take into account the life things that happen sometimes and be prepared that your schedule will have to flex a little (or a lot, some days!). If you mentally prepare for this ahead of time, you won’t be caught off guard and will have a contingency plan.
Putting It All Together
Now, you have the big task of playing a matching game with your activities and your time blocks. You can divide each block of time into smaller units if needed, or add in more time blocks during the day based on your unique schedule.
Start with the things that HAVE to happen every day, like feeding your children or driving to work, and assign those to their respective times. Then, start to work out from those times. Group similar activities together (such as running errands or cleaning the house) wherever possible so that you can establish a rhythm with these activities.
Plug your daily activities into the time slots that make the most sense. Work and thought-intensive activities should take place whenever you are most awake and mentally aware. Leave less intensive activities for the times of day when you are less acute.
Checklists are Your Friends
Your final step in creating a workable daily routine is to put together checklists for daily habits and activities. These checklists will help you put parts of your day on autopilot so you don’t have to spend time and energy thinking about what to do next.
The best way to prep for the day ahead is to do a lot of your preparation the night before. With that in mind, your very first checklist should be focused on an evening routine that revolves around getting things ready for the next day. Add things like “set out clothes,” “pack lunches,” and “refresh gym clothes” to this checklist.
Next, create a checklist for mornings with things like “exercise,” “shower,” “healthy breakfast,” and “defrost dinner supplies.”
Other helpful checklists can include a lunchtime list for a midday check-in and a weekly checklist for those things that need to happen once a week.
Then, schedule in time to deal with these checklists.
Test Drive Your Routine
Now that you’ve put in all this work, it’s time to try it out. Give yourself a week to settle in, then 30 full days to make adjustments to your schedule as you notice gaps or find things you missed during the planning stage.
After 30 days, you should have a daily routine that flows smoothly for you and gives you the control over your life you need to be successful and stress-free!
Do you have any tips for creating a daily routine? What works for and what doesn’t? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!