The older I get, the more I need small routines built into my days, weeks, and months. I am more successful that way. I even schedule my free time into my week. The more structure you have, the more freedom you create. I hate the word busy, but I am well scheduled. I have plenty of time for sci-fi binging, cheeseburgers at the bar, and belly rubs for the pup. Please don’t ever say to me, “but you’re so busy.” People often make assumptions about other people's time. I do have a full calendar but do I seem frazzled or always prepared? Am I running late or usually a tad early? When I am with you, am I with you?
Here are the 6 most important times set aside in my routine:
1. The Mornings
In the mornings, I take it slow and steady. I meditate, read, focus on my positive affirmations, take care of my body, and then sit with a cup of coffee lovingly made by the Hubby. We often relax by the pool with our first cup.
My gratitude practice begins in the morning while brushing my teeth. It is part of my “habit stacking” - a method of creating positive habits by attaching or “stacking” them onto another habit that is rock solid.
Habit stacking comes from James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits. I am always going to brush my teeth, so there is little chance of me not taking a moment to think of something I am grateful for. The best part is that this is how I start my day. I have meditated with fresh breath and a positive outlook.
2. In Between Appointments
I have my classes and clients scheduled in a way that allows me to take a break to reset my mind or review my notes. Holding space for others means that when they leave, I need to regroup - rest, take care of my body, or touch base with my family. I try to give myself an hour between appointments, so there is time for me and time to review what I have been working on with that individual or small group. I need to be ready to listen. That means not hungry, stressed, or unprepared.
I also have in my schedule to make and/or have breakfast or lunch with my husband whenever possible. This works for me. You have to find what works for you without ignoring your needs.
3. Meal Planning and Exercise
With a bit of planning, you can make eating right and exercise a part of your routine. People think they don’t have time for this, but you have to make the time.
Your body needs good fuel for energy and movement to be pain-free, strong, and mobile. A healthy mind and body make you more productive, increases energy, and lowers stress levels.
Start small- 5 minutes everyday is better than two hours here and there. When you are getting started on anything new, consistency is more important than intensity. How about walking for 10 mins a day or adding one serving of veggies to the menu?
Here are a few tips for your meals and movement plan:
Eat more fruits and veggies
Try lean animal protein (think poultry and seafood to start) and plant-based proteins
When cooking, make extra, so you can pack it up for another meal
Schedule movement and meal prepping in your calendar!
Stock the pantry with staples. Here is my list.
4. Evening and Bedtime Routine
This is my FAVORITE time of day. The Hubby and I take our pup, Kai, out for evening “zoomies” every evening for about 20-30 minutes. I leave my phone inside and just enjoy his company and laugh at the dog chasing lizards. Then we head inside for some puppy snuggles and an episode of our favorite sci-fi or food network show. I love this time. I relax and laugh.
5. Review my Schedule
Every Sunday evening, I review my schedule for the week. Every evening, I review my schedule and to-do list for the next day. I’ve got a google calendar, and I use the Todoist app. But if you prefer paper, go for it. Again, consistency is the most important thing.
Keep track of what you have to do and what you have completed (and think about if you even want to be doing it, but maybe that conversation is for another day). This is really one of the most important tasks I have. If you don’t make time to plan your time, you will lose your time.
6. Time to Play or Create
I owned a brick-and-mortar art studio and supply store in Virginia before I moved to Florida. I loved my store, but I had to be there- days, nights, and weekends. I made a decision to limit my work on nights and weekends when I got to the sunshine state.
On the weekends I work hard to be a couch potato with an obsession for Star Trek and eat cheeseburgers at beach bars with the Hubby. I want to get outside, have fun with with my BFFs, take my dog to the park, and get my hands in some paint.
What do you love to do? Who do you want to spend time with during your downtime? I like to make things and go on adventures! I write, paint, doodle in graphic design, cook, go to the movies, hike trails, take my dog to training, pillage thrift stores, and try new restaurants.
How do you make a routine?
This is my routine, and it has taken years to perfect. Don’t you dare freak out and say, “that would never work out for me.” Good! I am not you, and you are not me. This is one example of one life. You don’t know what you can do until you do it. Trial and error have worked for thousands of years.
Grab a blank calendar for a week and fill it in with all things you gotta do - work, pick up kids, etc. Block off free times and fill them in with what is important to you. Actually, maybe that is where you start! What is important to you?
Make a list of things that will get you where you want to be. Are there things you shouldn’t be doing that you could let go of or delegate? When are your best times of the day? I know I start to lose steam in the evenings, so I don’t perform brain surgery after 6:00 pm if I can help it.
Writing things out helps to clear the mind and gives you a checklist of what you need to incorporate into your week. I will caution you that we, as humans, waste an incredible amount of time. Sometimes in this process, it can be helpful to track your time and/or practice a bit of mindfulness about how you are spending your time throughout the day.