Developing A Fresh Routine

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Whether you or your loved ones are starting school this fall, it is the perfect time of year to revisit your routine. Most people are generally motivated around the first of the year to declare resolutions, but by the end of the summer, the excitement has faded and perhaps some of our productive behaviors have, too. Routines help us accomplish our goals because they provide direction for our days, eliminate the wishy-washiness of mundane decision-making, and as a result, increase our productivity. As people who strive to live healthy lifestyles, most of us can acknowledge that when we are in a healthy routine, we feel better, and we accomplish more.

START BROAD
What do you want to include in your routine? Make a list of things you need or would like to accomplish each day. Think about the steps you need to take to make them happen. For example, if you want to increase your water intake, you might want to set timers on your phone for intervals throughout the day to drink more. It might seem like a lot, but if you’re someone who gets wrapped up in your daily tasks that you forget to make the time, you need to retrain yourself to take breaks.

GET SPECIFIC
Once you have your list, think about your daily obligations, when you have the most energy, and how much time you are willing to commit to each item. Dedicate time each day to these items. For example, if you want to get out the door quickly each morning, consider choosing your outfit for the day the night before. If you want to read for 30 minutes each day, set an alarm on your phone so that you know when to begin, and have your book or other reading materials ready to go. If you want to meal prep for the week, think backwards through the steps you’ll need to take; include tasks like meal planning, creating a shopping list, food storage options, and then actual cooking/preparation time.

WRITE IT DOWN
Once you’ve decided on your routine, write it down! Most experts say it generally takes 3-6 weeks to establish a routine. Until your routine is established, write it down so you see it every day. Your routine can be daily, weekly or monthly. I have a morning and evening routine written down in my kitchen.

If the thought of a big routine shake-up is overwhelming to you, start small. Pick one or two things you know you can stick to, and make every effort to do those things. You can always add to your list whenever you feel ready.

I have three small children (ages 2, 4 and 6), and our routines are largely focused around them. Each weekend, I pick all of their clothes for the week and place them in hanging organizers in their closets. This takes all guessing out of clothing selection each morning. Each night, we finish dinner around 6:30pm, go straight upstairs to take a bath, get pajamas on, and brush teeth. The kids come back downstairs to read for 15 or 20 minutes and then we go to bed. After they’re in bed, I prepare their lunches and water bottles for the next day, my husband does all of the dishes and we get the kitchen swept, wiped down and ready for the next day. I cannot tell you the peace we have waking up each morning and having the house in good shape. It sets the tone for the whole day. Each morning, I unload the dishwasher, make the bed, and throw in a load of laundry before I start work. The kids’ things are ready from the night before, so we just grab our things and go.

Our quality of life is so much better when we are in these structured routines, and we are able to spend our time doing things we love instead of worrying about when we are going to fit in the things we need to do. It only takes small steps to make a big difference!