We traveled back east in June and followed that up with a 5 day camping trip at the beginning of July. While all of those things were wonderful, they were terrible for our daily routine. We came back refreshed from camping but couldn’t get ourselves back on a schedule. Mike and I were in bed late (between 12:30 - 1:00a most nights for no reason in particular) and Ellie wasn’t sleeping well (at night or napping). During the day we all felt like zombies. To add to that, I always felt like I was rushing around but never getting much accomplished. After a particularly hectic week in early August, I thought to myself... I can’t do this anymore, something has got to shift.
Cut to 3 weeks later and our daily routine has shifted dramatically. We’re in bed by 10:30p, Ellie isn’t having massive screaming fits in the middle of the night, and she’s not fighting the bedtime routine. I’m meditating every day, along with getting some sort of exercise in. And, I’m getting everything I want to get done, done (and not feeling rushed)! Who knows what the school year will bring, but right now our routine/schedule seems to be working (not saying everything is 100% perfect but it’s 1000 times better than a few weeks ago!). In this post I’m sharing the steps that I took to help us clean up our daily routine. I’m just focusing on my end of the routine (which is deeply intertwined with Mike and Ellie’s routines). If you’ve got multiple people in your household, it’s helpful to be clear about who’s doing what/when. Also keep in mind that this is just for our daily morning, evening, and lunchtime routines. I’m not including all the stuff in between (which changes on a regular basis). If you’re interested in doing some work on your own daily routines, here are the steps that I took to clean things up.
Write down what your daily routines currently are (e.g., eating breakfast, taking the dog for a walk, packing your lunch, etc.), along with what you’d like to incorporate into your daily routine but are currently struggling with (e.g., meditation, exercise, reading for pleasure, etc.)
Think about the things you do every day (or very regularly). Include everything in here, even things that might seem small like getting dressed or packing your bag for the day.
Also think about things that you’re not doing, but would like to (or need to) do regularly.
Go through each item on your list and estimate how long each of these things will take.
Depending on the amount of time tracking you do, this could be a bit of a challenge. If you’ve never really paid attention to how much time your daily routines take, you might want to spend a few days timing them. When you’re tracking your time, don’t rush! Go at a pace that feels good so that you aren’t underestimating the amount of time these things take! Use your longest time as your estimate.
Figure out how much time you actually have for your routines. Decide on your wake/sleep times, as well as when your work day typically starts/ends, and how long you’re going to take for lunch.
For example, if your work day starts at 8:30a, and you wake up at 6:00am, you’ve got 1.5 hours for your morning routine. If you usually take an hour for lunch, then you’ve got that hour in the middle of the day for anything that’s involved in that routine. And then if your work day ends at 5:30p and you’re going to bed at 10:00p; you’ve got 4.5 hours for your evening routine (and whatever else you want to do).
Go back to your list and decide what you want to do in the morning, at lunch, and in the evening.
Add up the amount of time it’ll take you to complete everything you said you wanted to do in the morning. Does it fit within the time you have available? What about your lunch time routine? And evening routine?
Be sure to include transition time between activities. For example, when you wake up in the morning, maybe you don’t pop right out of bed and get dressed. Instead, maybe you lay there for a minute or two (or 20!). Give yourself some buffer time in between each item on your list.
If all of your routines fit within your available time, great! Move on to the step where you put your routines into your calendar. However, if you are anything like me, it’s not all going to fit, so you’ve got to make some adjustments...
Make adjustments to your list of daily routines so that they fit within your available time. Go back to your list and re-evaluate each item on it...
Is there anything on here that’s not necessary? Or something someone else can do? Or you can do every other day, or once a week? Or something that you could do in the future, but that’s not going to fit with your life right now?
Can you reduce the amount of time you’re spending on certain things?
For example, I initially wanted to meditate for 30 minutes a day. However, no matter how I sliced it, I just couldn’t find a way to make 30 minutes fit and keep some of the other things I wanted to do. Instead, I reduced my meditation time to 10 minutes. Do what works for your life, right now.
Can you adjust your wake/sleep time?
Are you willing to get up earlier? Or go to bed later? Without sacrificing sleep of course!
Can you move some of your items around? Is there more room in your evening routine? Can you shift something there instead?
For example, I was wanting to do some journaling when I first woke up, but I couldn’t find a way to make it fit in the morning. So, I moved it right before bed, when I had a little bit more time.
Can you combine items?
For example, if one of the things on your list is to listen to your favorite podcast, but it’s an hour long, can you listen to it while you exercise? Or during your commute? Or while you do the dishes?
Keep playing around with your list until you find something that actually fits the time that you have.
Go to your calendar and create a morning, lunch time, and evening routine time block for however long each of these things will take you.
If you use google calendar, write in what you’ll be doing and how much time it’ll take in the description of the event and then set it to occur daily.
You could also write these routines down and keep/post them somewhere you’ll see them regularly.
After awhile you won’t need the reminders, but as you’re getting your routines established it’s helpful to have this info written down somewhere you can easily access it.
Remember to be flexible with your routines.
Things aren’t always going to happen exactly as planned. Maybe you have an early meeting, or a late night out with friends, or you’re traveling. Keeping your daily routines flexible is super helpful for keeping you on some sort of schedule, even when things aren’t “ideal.”
It can be helpful to create a “bare-bones” morning, lunchtime, and evening routine with the things you 100% need to do, so if have to be out the door super early or you’re sick or your kid is sick, you just swap out your normal routine with that one.
Also, even though I set a specific time for each item in my routine, I don’t necessarily follow that exact order every morning. I move things around, if needed.
Curious about what my summer morning, lunch time, and evening routines look like? Here you go…
6:30a - wake up
6:35a - meditation (10 min + 5 min transition time)
6:50a - get dressed for exercise (5 min + 5 min transition time)
7:00a - exercise + listen to a podcast (30 min, use transition time from other activities)
7:30a - morning hygiene + listen to a podcast (50 min + 5 min of transition on either side)
Ellie usually gets up around 7:30ish, Mike sets her up with some fruit while he gets breakfast ready for the 3 of us.
8:30a - make bed (5 min, transition time included)
8:35a - play/read with Ellie (15 min + 5 min of transition time)
8:55a - breakfast (20 min + 5 min of transition time)
9:20a - get ready for the day (10 min, includes transition time)
Because Ellie’s nap doesn’t happen at the exact same time each day, these activities get shifted around depending on when she’s napping. Mike does nap time put down, as well as Ellie’s lunch routine.
12:30p - books before Ellie’s nap (15 min + 5 min of transition time)
12:50p - random internet searches (10 min... I’ll write about this in another post!)
1:00p - lunch (30 min, includes transition time)
Our evening routine goes from about 6:40 - 9:00p (depending on if Ellie takes a bath). I don’t set specific times or have a specific order that things happen in, because our evening routine doesn’t work like that. I do know, roughly, how long each thing will take, so I know that 2 hours and 20 minutes should be able to cover everything that needs to get done.
Bath time (Ellie) - 20 minutes (this isn’t a daily thing and we switch off who does bath)
Eat dinner - 30 minutes (Mike cooks, during the week it’s a lot of reheating)
Clean up and straighten rooms - 30 minutes (often done in bits and pieces, and Mike does a lot of this while I’m rocking Ellie)
Set up Ellie’s room - 5 minutes (either Mike or I do this)
Read books - 20 minutes
Brush teeth (Ellie) - 5 minutes
Rock with Ellie - 15 minutes
Random internet searches - 15 minutes (like I mentioned earlier, I’ll write another post about this)
My bedtime routine
9:50p - layout clothes for the next day (10 min including transition time)
10:00p - evening hygiene (15 min including transition time)
10:15p - journaling (15 min including transition time)
10:30p - sleep
How’s your current routine going?!