Have you ever heard the expression, “Routines are the spice of life”?
Some people think routines are boring, oppressive, mundane.
I happen to think they’re freeing. They allow me figure out the best process to follow, and then just keep repeating that flow. They help me remember the necessities of life and free up my limited brainpower for more important things.
Basically, they make me look better than I really am.
When life gets chaotic (when is it NOT chaotic?!?), I know that I need to go back to my routines. They’re my safe place.
If I can identify the things I regularly need to do and figure out the best possible way to do them, I feel so much more peace. I actually feel like I’m controlling my day, instead of my day controlling me.
Routines are simply a systematic way of doing repeated tasks. A routine may involve a time schedule, such as the routine you stick to when getting the kids ready for school. Or, a routine may simply be a list of tasks we always do during a set period, like a morning routine or a weekly cleaning routine.
You may have several routines for the various areas of your life. There will be some routines that you do every single day, some repeated weekly, and some that only apply to specific situations.
If you can identify the routines you have (and the routines you need), you’ll be able to save time and energy. You’ll infuse your days with some predictability, which will wash away that nagging feeling of “spinning your wheels.” You’ll become a more efficient and intentional homemaker, something most of us dream of.
I’ll walk you through how I plan (and sometimes revamp) my morning routine. But don’t let that limit you. You may have routines for any number of things in your day or week. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Afternoon routine
- Evening routine
- Weekly cleaning routine
- Meal planning and grocery shopping routine
- Quiet time routine
- Children’s routine
Tips for making routines work for you
Look for natural routines.
We all have routines we follow, even if we don’t realize it. We often have a certain flow to how we get ready for the day, manage the laundry, prepare for bed, on and on. If you can find your natural routines, you can figure out how to tweak them to make them more efficient.
Example: A morning routine is the perfect place to start. Nearly everyone follows some sort of routine for starting their day, even if it isn’t written down.
Think of the things you NEED to do.
It’s important to understand the things you need to do before you try adding in the things you want to do. To figure out if something is a “need to do” or “want to do,” try asking yourself what the worst case scenario is if you put off the task for a different time or eliminate it all together.
Example: I need to pack lunches, take a shower, and fix my hair every morning. Those are non-negotiable. For my peace of mind, I also need to make my bed and clean up the kitchen.
Think of the things you WANT to do.
Even though there are many things you automatically do every day, most likely there are other things you wish you had time to do. After you’ve identified the routines that make up your day or week, and scheduled in your “need to do” list, you can try to fit in some of the tasks from your “wish list”.
Example: As part of my morning routine, I would like to tidy up the bathrooms and start a load of laundry. I also want to get as much dinner prep out of the way as possible.
Evaluate the most efficient way to do things.
Once you have the list of things you need to do and the list of things you want to do, you can work on the best order in which to accomplish those items. Consider the most logical way to use your time and energy. Think about your natural movement and rhythms.
Example: In the mornings, I pack lunches before I do most other things, since they must be ready before the kids go to school. It makes sense to start cleaning up the dishes after that since I’m already in the kitchen.
Time it out.
Even if you don’t need to follow a specific time schedule for your routine, it’s helpful to think about how long each item will take to complete so you’ll know if you planned for too much. Jot down how long you expect each task to take and see if it fits into the time you have available.
Example: With my morning routine, I’ll note how long I expect each task to take and assign a specific time schedule (even though I may not follow that schedule consistently). That way, I can know if it’s possible to get everything done in the mornings, or if I need to either eliminate chores or change my wake-up time.
Eliminate or move non-essentials.
After timing it all out, you may realize you’ve been a little too hopeful when it comes to how much you can accomplish. Look for things you can save for a different time or that can be done less frequently.
Example: As much as I would love to start my dinner prep in the morning, I can’t consistently keep up with it. There just isn’t enough time to do it all. Instead, I’ll try moving that task to the early afternoon.
Start small and add as you go.
Even though you now have the “perfect routine,” don’t try to do too much too soon. It’s alright to highlight just a few of your “need to do” tasks until they are flowing naturally for you. Add a new task once you’ve mastered your shorter list.
Example: I know that I should have time to wipe up the bathrooms every morning, but I still struggle to get it done. If I work to more efficiently master the rest of my Morning To Do List, I’ll find the time to add the bathrooms into my every day routine.
Practice and give yourself grace.
Anything new takes time to perfect. It may take days or weeks to get into the habit of following your routine and completing your entire list. Give yourself grace with your new routine, especially if you are in the midst of a difficult season.
Example: Even though I’ve been struggling to complete my full Morning Routine every single day, I know that the more intentional I am about trying, the more success I’ll have. In a couple weeks, I won’t even need to think about it anymore.
Refine and revamp as needed.
Don’t be afraid to change what isn’t working. There are seasons to life and ups-and-downs in our energy levels. If you feel like life is spinning out of control, take a step back and walk through these steps to see if you need a change or more consistency in your routines.
Example: I’ve had a hard time keeping up with the housework lately. I need to sit down with my Morning Routine and schedule out how the tasks can get accomplished. I know from experience that if I can complete my Morning list every day, the house always looks relatively clean.
Do you have routines that you naturally follow in your day?
P.S. Want some help with your children’s morning routine? Click here to get a FREE printable and morning chore routine for preschoolers from Leigh Ann!