Wondering how to create a routine? It’s very possible when we start simple, be realistic and get clear about what we want our life to look like.
When I was doing some research for this, I noticed that much of the information available was people explaining how they created their own routine. But unless you have, or want to have a life exactly like that person, seeing how another person set up their routine might not be that helpful.
So…I’m challenging myself to write an article that can help ANYONE, even YOU, create a routine that works and that you can stick to.
The challenges of how to create a routine and stick to it are probably obvious. A person’s life is like their fingerprint, it is unique to them.
Also.. there are some who feel that routine is something negative, they don’t want a routine.
Let’s dive into a few specific challenges, then we will look at the solutions
Knowing where to start
This is huge, if you don’t know where or how to start, then the likelihood is you wont. Let’s say you want to know how to create a routine with kids. There are so many twists and turns in life with kids, even bigger kids.
Making it perfect
There is such a stigma around routines. Often people think that unless they are time blocking every hour of their week, they don’t have a ‘ROUTINE’.
There is a notion that a routine has to be a perfect system, one that is regimented. So it can be easy to conclude ‘a routine doesn’t work for me.’
Sticking to it
This is probably one of the biggest issues, you make a routine, you do it for one week, the second week rolls around, things happen, life happens, the routine has now gone out the window.
I put up my hand here, yes, I do this too.
So now let’s dive into the solutions of how to create a routine for YOU.
To have effective solutions you need principles that everyone can use whatever your personal circumstances are.
Even if you are a person that doesn’t like to plan, and hates the idea of routine, I can bet you do have routines. For example, do you have a routine for how you get dressed, make your favorite drink or take a shower/bath?
Routines are part of life. You do them. It’s a simple fact. The point is – to make YOUR routines effective for YOU
The first solution to getting started is to break it down, make it simple. Life can actually be broken up into 3 main categories:
- Making a living. Not everyone works, or has a job, so this category may not be required for you. But if you do, if may be part time or full time, you may have fixed times or flexible times.
- Responsibilities. What do you need to care for? For sure – yourself. But there might be other things – a house, kids, or elderly parents.
- Other. This is where you put your hobbies, choices of how you want to spend your extra time.
So, get you paper out and write down what your 3 categories contain.
Now assess what you have written down. Are YOU happy with all the activities in each category?
Maybe, you now realise, more time goes to making a living than you need. Or maybe, instead of caring for your physical health, you realise that you have filled your life with too many hobbies.
Making a list of activities like this is similar to pulling all your clothes out of the wardrobe and checking what you have.
Check now if you are doing too much or too little? What do you need to do more or less of?
Being realistic is the key to making your routine EFFECTIVE. Let’s imagine you want to create a daily routine. You decide that you will wake up at 5am.
For some people, this is easy and natural. But if you are a person that wakes up at 10am, then you probably aren’t setting yourself up for success to start your routine at 5am.
We all have different energy levels and different capabilities that affect what we can realistically do.
The point is that there are many ways to have an effective routine. You do not need to time-block every hour of the day, if that doesn’t work for you. Instead focus on what will work for YOU.
Now we all have natural tendencies that can make a routine hard. Here again you need to be realistic in how to create a routine. I’m a believer in neither indulging, nor torturing. Gently challenging yourself is ok though.
So now back to your pen and paper. Write down what your personal weak spot might be. Here are some tips –
- Overwhelm. If you have a tendency to get overwhelmed, you could try rotating schedules or routines that are based around time, not tasks. [I’ll do as much as I can in this hour]. Turn your lists into ‘could do’ lists to keep the pressure off.
- Procrastination. If you have a tendency to put things off, try the ‘eat the frog’ method, which means you put your hard task first on your list, or earliest in the day. You might also try rewarding yourself if you do your task, set yourself a deadline and consequence.
- Burn out. If you tend to go and go and then hit a brick wall, then you might want to create balance in your routine by mixing up physical and non physical things. Keeping variety will mean you have sit down times, recognise that rest can also be productive time.
So you have your list of activities that you are happy with, you have learned how to work with yourself not against yourself, but more is needed to stick to a routine you create.
Once you have in mind what you want to include in your life, a challenge can be keeping all the other things out of your life.
So you have a beautiful routine, it’s thoughtfully put together, you are happy with it.
But sticking to it, might mean saying no to doing the overtime your boss wants you to do. It might mean saying no to your friends wanting to go on a girls’ weekend. This is hard!
Does this mean a routine has to be regimented?
NO! It means setting clear boundaries about what is ok with you and what isn’t.
Let’s go back to your paper. What activities on your list are non-negotiable? Put a little star beside the things that are really important to you. Other things have to wait.
This way YOU get to determine how rigid or how flexible YOUR routine will be. This is the key to you sticking to your routine because you will be happy.
If something gets in the way of your cleaning routine, and you are not ok with that, then you should have it put down as a non-negotiable. Then when a friend asks you to go shopping, you can just think ‘No, this is one of my non-negotiables.’ Then politely refuse your friend’s offer.
Putting it together – How to create a routine for YOU
Right you have your list that you are happy with and you now know your tendencies and what are your clear priorities. But what should a routine look like?
That is entirely up to YOU!
For some, it will be something they just have in their head, nothing on paper. For some, it will be a beautiful color coded, time blocked calendar.
For some the inspiration comes from a beautiful, colorful checklist. Something that is a delight to tick off the activities.
The idea is to focus on getting the priority activities set up first in a way that you are happy with, and then add the lesser important activities around them.
Try and set yourself up for success by making it as easy as possible to do the routine.
For example, you want to have a clean sink when you go to bed at night. Then, as you go along the day, try to do the dishes as you go.
Then set a non-negotiable time [let’s say 10pm]. Then as you are relaxing on the sofa at 9:30pm, have your washing up gloves beside you. Now you have to bring them to the sink anyway.
A routine is about making sure you know what you are doing and when.
With these principles of routine building you can create a routine and stick to it! I hope you take the time to sit down and put together a routine that you find effective for YOU.
See! Routines can be fun after-all. 😉
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