Need some productivity or peace in your day? It’s time to create a routine!
Ever wonder what a difference a daily routine can make?
I happen to have a strange love and hate relationship with routines. I love the idea of freedom – having unplanned days where I can sleep in, eat when I please, and figure out what I feel like doing.
Yet when I give into a day without plans? I may start out with a low-stress day, but by the end of the afternoon, I tend to react the same way every single time: I start stressing over the heavy mental weight of so many things I “should” do – and how much I haven’t accomplished.
And when I start stressing out, I end up snapping at anyone else in the house and spending a half at hour tidying up all the messes that have accumulated throughout the day.
Without a routine, weeks can go by without having any significant traction on basic goals – whether it’s keeping up with my home, running errands, or focusing on work projects.
Time slips away and instead of reveling in my relaxation, I focus on feeling let down and like I’m just not accomplishing basic things.
The contrast of a routine
But when I create a routine and follow it (even if it’s just loosely-created), I know what I would like to accomplish in my day and then work toward those reasonable daily goals.
When I follow some sort of routine in my day, I move and make choices with a purpose:
- I know what the next thing is to do because my days have a natural flow.
- I know what to do when I first get out of bed in the morning, then I know what to do every hour until lunch.
- Then I have a good idea of what order I’ll do things in the afternoon.
- At the end of an afternoon, when it’s time to get ready for dinner, I’m not feeling stressed out or panicked as I realize I’ve accomplished nothing. On the contrary, I’ve accomplished what I’ve planned.
Some days I may complete more tasks than other days – but as long as I’m sticking to some sort of planned schedule, I know I’m on track. And that brings a huge feeling of accomplishment and peace.
Instead of trying to relax without a schedule – and get stressed out in the process – by sticking to a routine, I’m able to relax at the end of the day.
How Do You Create a Routine?
You may know that you need a routine. But you may not know how to create one. I
f something has majorly changed in your typical days – maybe you’re unexpectedly sequestered in your home, or you’re recently unemployed or retired, or you’ve made the change from full-time worker to stay-at-home parent – you need some sort of a daily routine.
1. Brainstorm necessities
To start creating a daily routine, grab a piece of paper and a pen.
Brainstorm all the tasks that definitely need to be done in a day. Include non-negotiable daily chores around your home, as well as family and work responsibilities. Make sure to list all necessary tasks.
2. Brainstorm wishes
Since you’re in the middle of brainstorming, make a separate list of things you’d like to do in your day. Think of this as more of a wish list.
This isn’t a list of essentials, but you’re simply specifying what you’d like to accomplish. It’s a great first step to actually meeting those goals.
3. Map out your day
Once you have your lists of need-to-do’s and like-to-do’s, it’s time to map out your days. Write a simple list with every waking hour of your day.
If you’re not a morning person, it’s probably not wise to plan an early morning start. Keep things reasonable! (Yet even if you’re a night owl, wisely use the natural productivity that comes in the morning to your advantage.)
After you’ve written out a list of your waking hours, now’s the fun part! You get to look at your list of necessities and plan how much time you need to spend on each essential task. Start filling the hours on your chart with only one to two tasks per hour.
Think about when you’re most alert and plan to do any tasks that need your biggest amount of thought and attention during those times.
Then, figure out when you’ll fit in your household chores. Try to plan three to five household tasks in the morning, then three to five more in the afternoon, and three to five more in the evening.
For example, if you include washing dishes or loading the dishwasher after each meal, make sure to include that in your schedule after your mealtimes. Think through when you’d like to do laundry or clean up a room.
Need to create a plan for how you’ll clean and maintain your home – that works with you and your personal preferences? Get some guidance with From Mess to Success!
Once you’ve figured out when you’ll attempt the things you need to get done, then start mapping out when you’d like to touch on the things you’d like to accomplish.
Depending on your days, you simply may not have time to do much more than the necessities. But other days you’ll have more flexibility to focus on things you’d hope to accomplish.
4. Try everything out!
Now that you’ve thought about your day and made reasonable plans, now’s the time to try your plan out.
From experience, I know that my planned schedules rarely work out at first. Once you’ve tried your schedule for at least a week, notice what’s working well – and what’s clearly not working at all.
As you live your days according to your written routine, make changes as necessary. Do you need more time or less time to work on something? Have you forgotten to add something to your days?
Adjust your routine and try again until you can settle into a doable daily routine that works for you – and brings peace to your days.
Another alternative as you create a routine
If the thought of mapping out each hour of your day sounds pretty rigorous and overwhelming, dial things back. Simply focus on three to five things you need to accomplish each morning, each afternoon, and each evening. Then work on completing those tasks.
Need more help in thinking through your routine? Check out these other Home to a Haven posts:
- The Surprising Power of Creating a Daily Routine
- How to Manage Your Home with a Routine (and Love It!)
- 3 Ways to Find (and Stay) in a Homemaking Routine with Kids
The important thing is to be flexible when creating your routine, then keep trying it until you find a daily plan that works for you and adds a lot of peace to your day.
Describe your experience with daily routines. Are they easy for you to follow? Do you have difficulty finding a daily approach that works for you?
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All images courtesy of Unsplash.