You knew it was coming didn’t you? The dreaded R-word. At least, that’s how I view it. However, as much as I struggle with them, routines are the secret weapon to a life of simplicity.
As a free spirit who is always on the lookout for the next new experience, setting and especially keeping routines often feels like drudgery to me. Even as I write them down on paper, some part of my mind is already planning to sabotage them. Does anyone else have this problem?
I cannot help but acknowledge the value of routines, though. When I follow a simple schedule, I am much more productive, and I have a greater sense of peace and accomplishment at the end of the day.
My husband always reminds me that adhering to routines doesn’t steal my freedom; it gives me more freedom. When I focus on those priorities that need to be addressed first and work diligently at them, I can set a stopping time and allow myself a break to enjoy all those fun things I am so fond of, guilt-free.
For me, routines help me to re-order my day, placing the necessary in front of the frivolous, urgent, or self-serving. (I say this as I sit at the kitchen table, still writing at 8:30am, with breakfast items scattered around me and home school slated to begin in 30 minutes. I guess I still need some work here!)
Three, simple routines which are essential to a thoughtful, productive life are: 1) Morning Routine, 2) Afternoon Routine, and 3) Evening Routine. I first learned about these routines from FlyLady, who does an excellent job of teaching you how to set up basic routines and helping you to stick with them.
Each of the three, daily routines should include 3-5 items. Here is a sample of each:
- Make bed
- Read Bible and pray
- Unload dishwasher
- Toss laundry in the dryer
Afternoon Routine (this can be after school for stay-at-home moms or after work for working moms):
- Check kids’ homework and papers
- Prep dinner
- Fold laundry
- Prepare/Gather items for tomorrow (assignments, library books, lunches, clothes, etc.)
- Clean kitchen (clear counters, shine sink, run dishwasher, sweep- these can be delegated to children, too :))
- Put load of laundry in washer
- Read to/Pray with children at bedtime
- Drink herbal tea and read book/write in journal before bed (9:30pm)
Your items may be totally different than those in the example, but they should include practices that optimize your productivity and encourage the well-being of yourself and your family.
Crystal Paine of MoneySavingMom.com is another great resource for establishing routines. She has two fantastic courses: Make Over Your Mornings and the brand new Make Over Your Evenings, which have helped thousands(?) of people successfully incorporate routines by which they have increased joy and productivity into their lives. As a work at home, homeschooling mom and entrepreneur, Crystal takes a positive, honest, understanding approach to her writing. She is committed to excellence in content and presentation with these courses; I highly recommend them.
I also wrote a series on Life’s Essential Ingredients which might help you to identify which items to incorporate into your routines.
What routines will you set in place to make the most of your day? Do you need help figuring out what to prioritize or accountability to stick with your routines? I would be happy to help. Leave a comment below, and I will contact you.