Do routines take you back to the trauma of sleep training your baby, or the etched-in-stone schedule in your 3rd grade classroom? There are extremes for anything, but we want to talk about the happy medium where a routine can actually make your life a lot better.
Just like your sneakers, how loose or tight you need your routine is up to you, but the fundamentals of the idea are pretty universal. A new routine, or even re-thinking and adjusting one you have, can give your day structure. If you feel like a pinball and never quite know what’s next, feel overwhelmed and unaccomplished, and generally unable to go with the flow when things don’t go right, you really should consider defining a routine for yourself.
The benefits vary by person because time management and organization are truly personal things. But generally, people get more done at work and home, can open up more free time, and can even feel more flexible and responsive to those unexpected moments. Better sleep and eating habits even await those who’ve gotten into a rhythm with their routine.
See, life can happen to you, or you can make life happen. What little semblance of control we feel like we have becomes more controlled when we manage our days and hours more intentionally. If you’ve got a real knack for procrastination, get easily distracted, or lack focus, your routine will right those wrongs.
Just as everyone has their own way of making a resolution, styles for routines vary by the individual, too.
AROUND THE CLOCK
Accounting for every hour of the day is really helpful for some people. If that’s your jam, don’t forget to include times of day for getting up from your desk, healthful snacking or meals, social outlets, and time that’s just for yourself.
- 7am - wake up
- 7:15am - meditate
- 7:25am - shower
- … and so on
This really adds focus for a lot of people and helps them tick the boxes throughout the day. Others might find this to be a bit micromanaged…
BLOCK THE CLOCK
… So they designate blocks of time or parts of the day for certain tasks.
- Maybe you only check email at 9am and 3pm
- Doing dedicated heads-down sprints for work from 9:30-11:30
- Only make yourself available for calls or meetings from 1p-3p
- Schedule a fitness class at 5:30 so you know you’re always out the door on time with a standing obligation you can’t miss.
Even a “looser” framework like this can keep you on task and diligently marking off everything you need to tackle in a day without anything falling through the cracks.
RITUAL STATE OF MIND
If “routine” still feels too regimented, create a “ritual” instead. These don’t organize the entire day the same way, but rather how you utilize and get the most out of certain parts of the day.
A morning ritual could involve the pace and flow of events that you get you from bed to out the door - shower, meditate, read the news, coffee, etc. Doing these same things in the same order each day can give peace of mind and a feeling of accomplishment at the start of the day.
A lunch break ritual could help you strike balance in the middle of the work day and ensure you’re just as engaged through the second half as you were the first. Maybe you pack a lunch and enjoy it at a certain table, park bench, or isolated conference room each day, listen to your favorite music, call a friend, write in a journal, read a book, stretch or meditate, and so on.
A bedtime ritual could help bring you down from your day as a wife / mom / employee / carpooler / volunteer / errand runner by following a specific series of events each evening at the same time, with everything from showers and meditation, to journaling, bedtime stories, and even nightcaps!
KEEP IT ALL STRAIGHT
You might be something of a wunderkind and can decide on a routine or schedule, commit it to memory, and mentally tick the boxes each day. You might also be a normal human and need something to help you keep track of everything and get a sick kind of satisfaction out of marking things off! Here are a few tools, apps, and gizmos that can do some of the thinking for you:
- Bullet Journal
- Streaks App
- Sorted App
- Calendar (digital or analog)