Let’s consider some examples of what routines are for the majority of us – brushing your teeth, washing your face, showering, eating regular meals, exercising, going to bed. These basics are a real struggle for some. For others they are second nature. Why?
These are routines or habits that have been instilled in us from a young age. We don’t even think about doing or not doing them. We usually don’t even remember the process of doing them – that’s how ingrained they are. You could compare it to when you drive to or from a daily destination. Sometimes you don’t clearly remember the journey because your mind was elsewhere and it has just become so mundane.
Moving beyond these basics though – other routines or systems could make the flow of your day to day activities and responsibilities so much less stressful.
1. Choosing tomorrow’s outfit tonight
2. Preparing tomorrow’s lunch tonight
3. Preparing your bag (handbag, workbag, schoolbag) for the next day
4. Running the dishwasher daily
5. Washing up dishes right after use
6. Doing a load of laundry each day
7. Preparing medications/vitamins for the week ahead
8. Meal plan along with smart grocery shopping
Decide on implementing one habit each month. If you attempt to do them all you run the risk of overwhelm and burnout. This is not a competition – it is another tool I wanted to bring to your attention to aid you in your life.
Once you have chosen one for this month then ponder over how best to make it as easy and as natural as possible for you. For example – if you want to work on number 1, think of a place that you will regularly place the outfit. Where do you usually get dressed? In your bedroom, in the closet, in the bathroom? Put it where it makes sense for your life. Do you need a hook to hang it? A box to fold it?
For number 2, will you put the lunches on the counter, in each person’s bag, in the fridge? Try to do the same thing each time you are doing this habit. If in the fridge, try putting it all in the same area of the fridge so there’s no treasure hunt to complete in the morning to get the whole lunch together – nothing more irritating than a salad with no dressing!
For numbers 4 and 6, think of the rhythm of your day – does it make sense for you to run the dishwasher just before bed or right after lunch? Are you comfortable with leaving appliances on while you are out? For the washing machine, can it be on at the same time as the dishwasher? Is it better for you to be home and hear the buzzer so you are reminded to put the clothes in the dryer or to hang dry them immediately?
I will not go through the whole list. This is meant as an illustration of how routines and habits work best if we adapt them. You may start one way and then feel the need to tweak. For me, removing makeup and washing my face before bed is a hit and miss. If I do it after dinner then I’m much more likely to stick with it as I’m not so tired at that point.
These suggestions may strike your fun side as boring and responsible. On the flip side, if you reduce the thought involved in the basics, you free your mind and your schedule to do what you really want to be doing.
Do what works for you and your life.