Our everyday lives are busier and more complicated than ever. This makes the need to add routine to help get you where you want to be more important than ever. Have you ever heard the saying, "A goal without a plan is just a dream"? Well, it's true. There are steps you need to take to help you reach your goals. Think of a goal as your destination, proper planning as the map or route that guides you, and a routine is the vehicle powering your journey to the destination. When putting routines into perspective, it's important to realize that almost all successful goals were achieved from carefully setting a specific goal, properly planning and setting a healthy routine, and last but not least, the most important ingredient, consistency.
How do you get where you want to be? Do successful people just make a wish and POOF they get what they want because they are lucky? 9 times out of 10 NOT AT ALL. It's time to take control of your life, take ownership of yourself and your actions, and start intentionally taking the steps to get where you want to be, or at the very least, complete the tasks you want to complete regularly. If you've tried routines in the past and they didn't work for you how you had wished it's possible that you didn't set the right routine for YOU.
If you are a millennial like me, you were taught that you can be anything you want to be and we were encouraged to follow our dreams. While we were being told this we were not prepared IN THE LEAST for the currents we had to swim against to even survive in the real world, AND THEN we were told that nothing was our fault. Sometimes, things just happen. More often, things happen to us because of the choices that we make. Until you are ready to take responsibility for yourself, your actions/choices, and the state of the world you live in, you are never going to get where you want to be.
That's uplifting, right? NO? If you have a negative reaction to these ideas, you are already headed in the wrong direction! TURN AROUND. Has anyone ever told you that no one is going to help you get where you want to be? Well they should have told you, and it should be a good thing. So where is the positive? It's the fact THAT YOU CAN help yourself, the fact that you have the opportunity to attempt almost anything you can even dream of, and with so much knowledge literally at your fingertips are a few of the reasons why you have no excuse to ever give up. You have no excuse to be complacent... or even worse, give up.
Let's talk more about getting where you want to be. If general planning and routines are not skills that come easy to you, that doesn't mean it has to be hard and it is possible to learn and even improve these skills. Getting organized is how you get yourself together, and just like everything else you've worked for in the past, it takes time to learn and it takes practice. Creating a routine that you can stick to is the hardest part. Once again, that goes back to the "no one else helping you get where you want to be" statement. It's not because everyone around you is an asshole (but that may be the case), it's because nobody can do it for you. That also means I can't give you a plan and a routine that will work for you, either, but what I CAN do is give you a guide to help you find your way! This guide to revamp your routine breaks down the essential steps and outlines how to find that routine that will actually work for you.
MAKE A LIST
Sit down at a table or a desk with 2-3 blank sheets of paper and a pencil (the option to erase is ideal but a pen can be used as well). It's important to choose a quiet area with no distractions. Don't make your list on a computer or your phone. (TIP: You can always add the finished routine or snap a picture of the finished routine and add it to your phone or computer once it's organized and finished.)
First write down your goal or series of mini goals. Then start writing down the tasks you want to complete daily/weekly/monthly that you believe can help you get there and can also create a meaningful routine that makes sense for you.
Make sure you review and take into account the last couple months and the upcoming months on your calendar to visualize what a typical week or month will look like.
Be sure to write down your upcoming events or appointments and any recurring work themes (like working late certain days) or calendar appointments so you get a general idea of how to properly lay out your routine. This is important. Don't forget to write down weekly or monthly recurring calendar appointments so you can plan around them.
Self-awareness is key. Anyone can write down a goal, plan, or a routine but without a plan that will work these are just a series of wishes.
Be practical and think about your own personality, your current habits, your current availability, and your tendencies in various situations. Take some time to think about what you've written down so far and if it's realistic.
Edit your list and priorities. If you're anything like me, you wrote down WAY TOO MUCH. Before removing items or tasks on your list think about what is actually important for you (and your family, if applicable) and make a choice to be productive yet practical. Keep items or tasks more general such as general cleaning tasks as to not overwhelm yourself. For instance, if you work 10 hour days it would not be wise to plan larger goals or projects like a weekly laundry day or a deep cleaning session at night after work. Instead, focus on maintaining during the busy days (see more below).
Do not aim for perfection. Do not make your tasks unrealistic or based on what you think people on social media actually do (because they don't). Don't look at Pinterest for ideas and more importantly do not put tasks on your list with the goal to appear a certain way to others. Why all of these rules? Because, we put way too much pressure on ourselves and far too often, this pressure we feel is not for our own health and enjoyment. If you are making goals for other people or to appear a certain way to others you are not being practical or realistic and are much less likely to stick to your routine. For instance, don't write down tasks or items based on what your neighbor does, what your mother in law wants you to do, what your friend complains about, or anything else that is more important to or someone else rather than what's important for only you and your family.
Write out your categories/days as columns to organize your schedule. Do this on a new sheet of paper (so you can see what you've already written). It's best to map or plan according to your calendar or schedule but this may not be ideal of everyone. You should still write your columns as different categories but for most people, it works to categorize for day of the week. Choose your columns wisely and be practical. Use days or categories according to your typical weekly schedule and according to your typical habits.Example: Write one day per column as Monday - Friday (work days) and then Saturday and Sunday (weekend/off days).
Assign the items on your list by placing them on the days (and times) you are most likely to complete the task or item. Start with your highest priority items and work your way down to the lowest priority. Tip: Leave busy days of the week for the smaller/easier tasks and vice versa.
STICK TO YOUR PLAN
Practice and adapt. If a routine is new for you it will be normal to move things around and figure out what works for you. This is not a failure in your plan, this is completely normal. Life happens. You will have bad days. Change up your routine as necessary whether it been just for one week or permanently based on need. It's very rare to plan a perfect routine your first time and as time goes on you will also need to adapt to new situations, schedules, or changes. See this as it is, positive changes
Don't change it up too much. If you notice that you're struggling to complete tasks it may not be due to the routine you set yourself. It's important to think about outside factors that cause low energy and make it harder to stick to a routine like lack of sleep, bad eating habits, dehydration/not drinking enough water. or stress. If other areas of your life are normal or going as planned this may indicate that you do in fact need to edit more from your list or reorganize your task schedule. This is trial and error but once you figure out what works stick to it!
Hopefully, now you're thinking about what's important to you. Remember that following a routine is as easy (and as hard) as making the right series of choices/decisions. This is called an intentional living. If you choose to skip a day of your routine, before you move on to other things you need to do, intentionally and thoughtfully reschedule the task(s) you skipped for another day for when you are likely to complete it. This is how you stay in a routine instead of descending down a slippery slope of going back to no routine at all or living the unintentional life. Never say, "I'll do it tomorrow" and thoughtlessly move on to something else.
Days when you (intentionally) do not schedule tasks for your routine are called maintaining days. These are days when you are still responsible for not setting yourself back in your routine. A great way of keeping yourself on track, or maintaining, is following the one touch rule. The one touch rule is focusing on one thing at a time and to completion, every time. For example, if you are having lunch, when you are finished you will immediately clean up the food, your dishes/glass, and the area you ate. Not following the one touch rule would be to eat, put the food away when you're done, and then throw the dish and glass in the sink to clean later in the day. When not cleaning the dishes right away, you start to realize you are setting yourself up to do a sink full of dishes later instead of taking less than one minute to wash them or stick them in the dishwasher. This rule helps you live more intentionally and make the right decision every time. You will start to think twice about starting a task you are not likely to finish while finishing every task you start. This keeps you organized and maintains your routine, every time.