Need help getting organized again with summer ending? Here are 7 Tips for Getting into a Routine!
My life is generally ruled by organization, schedules, and plans. That is not to say I never forget anything or decide to blow off items on my to-do list so I can watch another episode on Netflix instead. It just means that I need structure. I need routine.
When I was teaching, my routine was easy to identify. There were bells most of the day that told me where I needed to be and how long I had. I didn’t have lunch when I got hungry; I had lunch after the 8th bell.
Because of this, working from home was a huge adjustment.
This summer, my whole routine sort of disappeared. I was in a routine slump. I think we all go through these segments in our lives where things get hard, things get overwhelming, things get impossible, and order or routine is usually the first thing that goes. That was this type of summer. I wasn’t feeling particularly creative and definitely not organized, so I let it all go. It was nice but now it’s not.
Now it is time to get back into a strong routine and get back into productive mode. We don’t have kids yet, but we do live on a school schedule because of my husband’s job. His RAs returned back to campus today. That’s right. TODAY!
Here are my tips for getting into a strong routine – maybe again! 😉
1. Admitting you need a routine! Letting go of the denial that free flow works for you is really the most important step. Without a calendar, I would forget birthdays, appointments, what I had planned for dinner. I need a routine and that’s okay to admit. If you are not a mere muggle like me and have wizard ways of mentally keeping track of everything, then why are you even reading this post? (just kidding! I love having you here and there is a giveaway happening at the end for the first week or so.)
2. Create a list of your to-dos – daily, weekly and monthly. We all have different responsibilities and tasks that need completion. My list will look very different from your list and from my husband’s list. But you can’t create a routine of activities until you really write them down and know what you are dealing with. You might think you know everything you do but I bet you don’t. I bet you will feel really awesome about all the things you do in a month and maybe a little exhausted. Taking stock of my to-dos and when they occur helped me see that Fridays tend to be lighter schedule wise, making them perfect for weekly tasks like updating our budget, cleaning the bedroom or taking stock of our pantry.
3. Create anchors and sketch out a schedule. You know what your tasks and responsibilities are so now it’s nice to start placing them. I like to do this by sketching out daily anchors. Most of mine revolve around food. My anchors are before breakfast, before lunch, after lunch, before dinner/while Bryan works out, after dinner, and late night. Think about the natural structure of your day and use that as an aid in creating your routine.
For me, I have a list of blog responsibilities (post work, setting up social media, adding to support threads, etc) and VA (virtual assistant) responsibilities that I get done before lunch. Those stay pretty consistent from day to day while my after lunch segment is more flexible – sometimes crafting or cooking for a post, sometimes editing photos, etc. Make your routine work for you and how you live your life … NOT the other way around.
4. Use a calendar. I have written a lot on this blog about my love of Erin Condren Life Planners and products (and am even giving some away below) so head over to those posts to read more about how and why I use her products. The most popular post is How I Use my Erin Condren Life Planner. My husband and and I also rely on shared Google Calendars for personal life and work. It saves us lots of time, disagreements, and miscommunications. It’s great for kids, too. My sister, brother-in-law and 13 year old niece share calendars, too!
5, Allow extra time so you can be flexible. I live by this philosophy, but it probably drives my husband nuts. I always say we need to leave earlier than we do because I know my own faults – I get wrapped up in work, lose track of time and then am not ready in time. As the person in this family usually responsible for food, gifts, directions, and general logistics, I know I have last minute details that will make me late. But I am not late if I build in extra time. Same goes for morning routines. When I taught, I woke up earlier than needed in case anything came up or I was slow to wake up.
6. Play to your strengths and weaknesses. I know I am most creative in the afternoon or evening, so I create my routine to include my creative endeavors during those two time slots. I also know I am a night owl and the weakest in the morning. Therefore, part of my daily routine is to review the next day at night with my husband – confirm dinner for tomorrow, set expectations, update my planner to-do list, put out clothes if I need to leave for an appointment, etc. If mornings are hectic for you, get done as much as possible the night before (clothes, lunches, breakfast). If after school is hard, make sure to have dinner prepped earlier.
7. Be realistic. I am not super human. Believe me, I wish I was and would totally be first in line to have a radioactive spider bite me or get shot up with Super-Soldier serum, but alas I am just human Maggie. We all wish there was more time in a day but there’s only the 24 hours and, in my humble opinion, you need to sleep, eat, and enjoy life. Be good to yourself and create a routine you can really stick to. Because if you can’t, what’s the point?
That might mean evaluating and prioritizing those daily, weekly and monthly to-do lists. My mom and I were just talking the other way about how cleaning standards have changed in homes. (I promise, this will relate.) My grandma cleaned the house every day. My mom? Every week. Me? When guests come over is probably the most honest response. DAILY we pick up and straighten but not actual cleaning. When we have a crawling baby, cleaning the floor daily might become important. That isn’t a priority right now for us and that’s okay.
I’m not a big believe in judgement or shoulds … I am a big believer in you do the best you can with the time and life you have.
If you find these tips helpful, you might also enjoy these Organization Tips