I had never been one to stick to, or even like daily routines. I much preferred to maintain with my “don’t tell me what to do, make it up as I go” attitude.
And it wasn’t until I had my son that I really, really started to appreciate daily routines and how much they can actually help in simplifying your life.
Prior to my son being born, I worked shift work as an Emergency Paramedic so routine never really came into the equation, I could work 12 hours during the day, then work a few more jobs that night, nothing the next day and then more jobs during the night again.
It was all over the place.
When my son was born, he was in NICU for over two months, and daily routines saved my sanity.
Having a routine gave me something to control, something I could do, and something to hold on to.
What Are Daily Routines?
Daily routines are activities you do on a consistent basis, at the same time or in the same order every day.
These routines are little groupings of tasks that help you achieve a particular overall goal – for example, a nighttime routine helps you to ensure you get all the things done you need to get done, and helps you to relax before bed.
Daily routines set out your priorities and help you accomplish them throughout the day in a more efficient manner.
Your preference of routines varies from person to person depending on personal preferences and daily schedules.
Why Create Daily Routines?
So why create a daily routine? Why not a schedule or just a to do list?
Daily routines help you stay on top of your daily tasks, they prevent procrastination and increase productivity. Which is pretty much what we all want to do!
I am a master procrastinator and having daily routines help to clear our mind by allowing us to focus on one task/group of tasks at a time.
They also help to eliminate decision fatigue as we literally don’t have to make as many decisions when we simply follow the same routine.
The biggest benefit of daily routines is how much they help to simplify your life.
They help you to be more intentional, help you to be more efficient in what you do, and help you to focus on now rather than hoping you’ll remember to do something later.
At the height of our busyness, my husband and I were both working shift work, we were renovating our house (a complete tear all the walls down renovation), I was running my business, and we had two kids (one at school, one at home).
It was crazy busy and would have driven me absolutely insane if I didn’t have these routines to follow.
In fact, I intentionally set these specific routines to help us simplify our days and stay organized because the chaos was so overwhelming.
Now, we still use daily routines and we keep tweaking them and modifying them to what suits us at the time and what areas of our life feel out of control.
These are some of the daily routines we use or have used and have made a huge difference in simplifying our life and helping us to feel like we have some hold on the chaos:
1 – Morning Routine
Morning routines are the bee’s knees and are probably the most straightforward of all the routines. The thing to remember is, this is your routine – you can make it whatever you want it to be.
Usually, my morning routine starts with a coffee – because… coffee.
Over the years my morning routine has changed significantly, and it continues to change so I can adapt to the needs of myself and of my family.
Previously I was getting up early of a morning so part of my routine involved time alone (amazing) and then the rest of my routine would depend on what day it was – for example, I had a different routine for the days when my daughter went to kindy as compared the days she stayed home.
I’ve also previously had morning routines that had been very strict when I was working early of a morning and needed to get my son and I both ready and out the door before most people had even woken up.
Now I’ve retired from my ‘day job’ (I worked on call and shift work… it wasn’t a day job), I have a new morning routine that involves me getting up before everyone else (my favorite time of the day), having my coffee and writing (like I’m doing now), then moving into my morning routine of getting the kids ready for school.
Morning routines can also change with the seasons – I often find I’m more keen to wake early in the summer months as the sun is up, it’s warm, and it’s just an absolutely beautiful time of day.
As opposed to winter when it’s still dark, cold, and I always feel like I need more sleep.
Your morning routine can be as detailed or as simple as you want.
For example, our morning routine is that breakfast for the kids always starts at 7am, they eat breakfast and have a cup of tea while I unstack the dishwasher and pack their bags.
After breakfast, the kids get themselves ready and put their bags by the front door next to their shoes. Once they’re ready, they’re free to play while I tidy the kitchen and mop the floor (have you seen the Bissell mop + vac? Game changer…).
Then we are out the door and I drop the kids to school while the floors dry. This means when I get home the house is tidy and I’m ready to start my work day.
The idea with this routine is that if you know how you’re starting your morning, there’s less stress about getting everything done and less chaos first thing in the morning.
I can honestly say, having a morning routine, especially with kids, makes a big difference. They know what is expected of them, and it gets done (most of the time).
2 – Bedtime Routine
We have bedtime routines as kids, but somewhere along the way, we let these go (more than likely in our teens and twenties when our lives go a little haywire).
But… bedtime routines are so good!
It’s been shown that having a bedtime routine or a ‘pre-sleep’ routine can help you shut off and sleep better. Winner. Things like reading before bed rather than scrolling social media can also help.
There are a few things I highly, highly recommend adding to your bedtime routine (other than the obvious brush your teeth and go to the toilet etc).
Writing out your to-do list for the following day – this has made such a big difference to my productivity.
I don’t have to spend time of a morning working out what needs to get done and it means I sleep better because I’m not stressing about the next day’s tasks.
Getting a few things ready for the next day – these are usually things like getting my clothes organized so I’m not spending 20 minutes trying to work out what to wear, packing the kids lunch so I don’t have to rush of a morning and charging all of my devices so I don’t freak out about not having any battery power in my laptop.
Reading/Journaling – I try to allow time each night in my bedtime routine for reading and/or journaling.
Often it depends on how tired I am as to which one I do – reading is a great way to go to sleep whereas sometimes journaling is more stimulating for my mind.
There are times though when journaling at night is exactly what I need to process my thoughts and get them onto the page.
This is a perfect example of a routine that takes into account what you need and why it’s important to be flexible with what you do.
One of the things I like the most about bedtime routines is that it doesn’t matter what time you do them – it’s not a schedule where you commit to going to bed at the same time every night.
While you certainly can do that, it’s just not something that fits with our lifestyle at the moment.
But, what it does mean is that whether I go to bed at 10pm or 1am, I set myself up for sleep in the same way and my routine is the same.
3 – Cleaning Routine
While, admittedly, my husband does the majority of the cleaning, we still have a routine that just helps me keep track of what’s been done and what needs to be done.
I try to include regular cleaning tasks in my daily routine to help keep on top of things.
Vacuuming and mopping the kitchen and main walkway is something I try to do every morning as part of that routine, but I also try to get at least one load of washing done a day, and we always clean the kitchen completely after dinner each night.
Then we have our dedicated days for other cleaning tasks – for example, our bathrooms are done on a Saturday, all washing is up to date on a Sunday (including linen and towels), groceries are done on a Monday (I know, not cleaning, but still relevant) and all floors are done on a Tuesday.
Doing this also means I’m not always feeling like there’s so much cleaning to be done.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, with kids there’s always a mess happening somewhere, but having this routine just keeps it all simplified and means I don’t go weeks between washing sheets and mopping floors.
4 – Gratitude Routine
I found gratitude to be more of a chore or task on my to do list rather than something I looked forward to until I made it into a routine.
Now it’s so much part of my day that it just happens without me having to think about it – and the less brainpower it takes, the more simplified my life feels. Love it.
My gratitude routine isn’t complicated, and I just make it part of my morning routine.
As I drink my first coffee of the day, I pay attention to the things I am grateful for.
First of all, I make note of the three things I am most grateful for right now, and then I spend some time thinking of the things that are happening in my life, both good and stressful, and find what it is about these things that I am grateful for.
Being able to find gratitude in stressful situations helps me take on the situation in a far more calm way than if I was to just be in fight or flight mode all the time.
5 – Self Care Routine
By far the most important routine of all.
You need to do something every single day that is just for you.
Whether it’s as simple as sitting down and drinking your coffee while it’s still hot, taking 30 minutes to get ready so you feel darn awesome about yourself, making time to meditate or exercise or something.
Whatever it is, make it into a routine and make sure it becomes part of your day – no matter what!
Looking after yourself first will mean you have the energy and resources to be able to look after others.
Running yourself into the ground isn’t going to help anyone, least of all you.
6 – Affirmations/Journaling Routine
If you’ve never tried journaling before, or if you’ve been curious to give it a go, I highly suggest creating a journaling routine to help you keep the habit.
I also believe everyone should have some form of affirmations routine, even if they aren’t entirely sure they believe it…
Let me explain.
Affirmations have been shown to help rewire the brain and are used in psychology therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
It a nutshell, telling yourself good things will train your brain to see good things.
Add journaling to this and you’ve got a super powerful combo of positive reinforcement – which our brain loves.
A simple routine like using an affirmation as a journal prompt (or a guided journal prompt like these) as your starting point, and writing in your favorite notepad every morning while you drink your coffee, is a great way to establish this habit.
This routine helps you simplify your life because journaling is known to help us organize our thoughts, process our emotions, and see situations more clearly – all things that help not only simplify our lives, but simplify our minds as well (yes please!!)
7 – Connection Routines
As humans, we need connections, arguably now more than ever.
Creating a routine around connecting with those you love can help you to maintain these connections, as well as serve as a simple reminder to connect with people who are important to you.
Your connection routine could be as simple as sending a text to a friend every morning to let them know you’re thinking of them and hoping they have a good day, or calling a friend on your commute to work, or even setting a reminder on your phone for a daily check in with different friends or family.
Not only does this make you a good friend, but it also helps fill that need we all have (some more than others) for connection, and builds a routine around it so we don’t feel so overwhelmed by the need to catch up with everyone.
Daily routines are a powerful way to simplify your life. They can help in so many different areas and we can create routines around just about anything we do in our lives.
Give these daily routines a try and modify them to work for you, hopefully, they can help you move towards simplifying your life, feeling more in control, and feeling less overwhelmed.
This post originally appeared on Project Hot Mess and has been republished here with permission.