We want to help you to LOVE your routines. If they’re used well, they will give you a boost every day. So if you’ve been struggling with no structure, no routines, lots of stuff “everywhere” and consistent frustration as you try to get organized, listen in to the podcast (linked above!) or review the brief outline below. You can do this…even if you’ve been flying by the seat of your pants for most of your life. So glad you’re here! (And a special thanks to our team member, Taryn Wood, who helped gather questions from the community and outlined this podcast!)
First, let’s define a routine.
Routines and projects are different. AND routines and one-time tasks are different. Here’s a little summary:
- Routines are things that are never “done.” You do them over and over again, and ideally, they are on auto-pilot, humming along in the background. They support your life as you do them consistently. Some of them are time-specific (meeting at 10am Thursdays), but most of them are flexible (brush teeth).
- Projects, on the other hand, are one-time, multi-step events. They can actually be checked off and fully completed. (Like renovating a bathroom.)
- One-time tasks are things you can do in a single step–like move the bookcase to the office or call to check on the dental insurance.
Does that series of definitions feel good? You can put additional questions in the “Comments” area, if needed.
Second, let’s start small.
We’re pretty sure you already have some routines working for you. There are things you do every day like wake up, go to sleep, eat, walk into the bathroom, etc. If you’re looking to start somewhere, we recommend starting small and then adding something new to one of these things that you’re already doing. (Just don’t add new routines too fast or you’ll feel overwhelmed.)
For example, you might say, “Each day, I will wake up, look at my calendar, and make a short list of things I want to accomplish with the time I have available.” THAT is a daily routine.
Then you might want to start with something like tracking your spending. “Each time I buy something, I will write it down on this sheet of paper in my planner—or put it into this specific app. Then once a week, I will review my spending and my budget.” Adding some calendar triggers can help support new routines!
Then you may want to tidy the entry way and set up a family routine where everyone takes off their coats and shoes, hangs keys on a holder, and puts mail or papers in a specific spot. You identify something simple that will make an impact, you get the family/roommates on board (if you live with others!), and then once that routine has become a habit, you can add more.
We add routines really slowly in our family and in our business. Unless there is some urgent need, slow and steady typically wins the race!
Third, expect resistance.
Your brain wants to keep you safe–and a new routine may not feel “safe” yet. It likely feels like a failed attempt waiting to happen, based on past results. You can trick your brain by taking TINY steps. For example, if you want to get better at flossing your teeth, you could just set the floss next to your toothbrush and aim to just touch the floss each time you brush your teeth. BJ Fogg of TinyHabits.com and the book “Atomic Habits” have tons of great ideas (linked in the resources below)!
If you’re involving a family or a team from work into your routines, it also takes awhile for those new routines to become smooth. (In the podcast, Jill and I share several examples!)
And sometimes the resistance is deeper—like, “I am not the kind of person who should have a clean, beautiful home…” That’s why it’s important to have time for introspection. This podcast episode on “Beliefs We NEED to Change” may be helpful. There’s a worksheet there for you, too! (This is also linked below!)
To close up, here are just a few more ideas:
It’s helpful to proceed through a lens of curiosity–looking for data, rather than expecting perfection. This is an experiment! When something doesn’t work, take a step back and ask why. Maybe you had some extra interruptions throughout the day. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep and you’re not at full capacity. Maybe you’re doing it at the wrong time of day, or on the wrong day. This doesn’t mean you’ve failed and you’re bad at it, it only means that you’re human and you need to give yourself grace.
You may also want to consider your schedule/routine/Command Central in “draft mode.” This mindset helps you to see that it’s an evolving process that can change rather than an “all or nothing” perfectionistic mindset.
The fact of the matter is that there are people in this world (most likely in a situation similar to yours) who have figured out how to harness the power of routines. It’s not always easy. There will be resistance–and maybe some backsliding. But when your mental energy can rest because your routines are solid, you then have the freedom and creativity to work toward your most important goals. That’s where the real fun comes in!
LearnDoBecome Challenge: Pick one routine you could implement this week that will make an impact on the overall flow and happiness of your life! (Feel free to share it in the comments!)
- BJ Fogg at TinyHabits.com has some great ideas on breaking a new routine into tiny steps for better success!
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Beliefs We NEED to Change
- [VIDEO]: Clean Laundry and a Stocked Fridge: Our Family’s Routines
And if you want to learn more about creating a STEP Command Central, we’d love to have you join our free class, How to Stop Drowning in Piles.