Note from April: We are so thrilled to provide you with this guest post from Taryn Wood, one of our wonderful LearnDoBecome Team Members today. If you’re not already in our Steps to Everyday Productivity (STEP) program, but you want to learn more and build your very own Command Central, be sure to visit our free class!
Hi! I’m Taryn, part of the LearnDoBecome team. I’d like to share with you how I’ve developed (and continue developing) my basic routines list.
Some time ago I attended an activity where I was asked to make a list of the “hats” that I wear. I was surprised to realize that I wear more than 15 different hats in my life! Some of those hats or roles don’t require much of me. Others require quite a bit!
As I was working to create my personal routines list, it helped me to include the roles and responsibilities that I have because they play a big part in how I schedule my time.
Before I walk you through my process, I want to mention that I can be very detailed in how I think and approach things. It might be too much for you. 🙂 That’s ok! Take what makes sense to you and run with it. Also, this doesn’t need to be done in one sitting. It takes a lot of brain power! You (and your brain) might need a break now & then. Decision fatigue is real and we will be making a lot of decisions throughout this process.
Step 1: Write a detailed list of my roles.
My first step was to identify my roles. I am an individual, a wife, a homemaker, a piano teacher, the accompanist for the church choir; just to name a few.
Step 2: What do I need to do within each of these roles?
Next up is to figure out what needs to be done within each of these roles. I started with a spreadsheet. I added categories to help me see where the bulk of my time goes. This also helps as I’m looking for projects to complete each month.
Then I started asking questions:
As an individual, what do I need? I need sleep, food, exercise, self care…
As a choir accompanist, what is required of me?
Weekly rehearsals (1 hour each Sunday), personal practice time to learn the pieces (daily practice 10-15 minutes or more depending on the piece.)
As a cake decorator, what is required of me?
Well, that depends. As a cake decorator, the routine is irregular but it’s a routine nonetheless. Irregular…that doesn’t sound like a routine, doesn’t it? Well, hear me out.
When I bake and decorate a cake for someone, I follow the same process each time. I also schedule it as a project because it takes extra time from my schedule; especially if it’s a large cake. So, although I don’t bake a cake every week or even every month, I do follow a routine because it’s nearly the same each time. Is anyone hungry for cake now? ?
As a homemaker, what is required of me?
This one takes up a lot more space in my brain, in my home, and on my schedule. And to be honest, I had a hard time figuring out where to begin. I had tried FlyLady’s method. I printed charts from Pinterest. I signed up for free online courses. (“How to Stop Drowning in Piles” anyone?) Nothing stuck.
Step 3: Walk through the house. In each room, take notes on what needs to be done.
One day, I had an idea. I needed to create my own routines according to how my home is set up and how/when I like things to be done. I know this isn’t an original idea but it was exactly what I needed to help me get started.
I walked through my home and dictated to my iPhone inside the Notes app what needed to be done in each room. You could also do this with pen and paper or in the Evernote app. Take note of anything and everything that needs to be done…routines, projects, tasks, everything! Caution: This is not about beating yourself up over what isn’t done, or should be done, or he/they didn’t do, it’s simply about gathering and processing information.
Here’s a small sample of what my list looked like.
At this point I copied the information into another page in my spreadsheet. Looking back, I probably could have started this process in a spreadsheet but it was really helpful to physically be standing in each room while I was deciding what needed to happen rather than sitting in my office looking at a screen.
Step 4: Make a chart and fill it in.
I actually really like using a spreadsheet for this because I can change the order of things with the sort function. I can sort the data to group all of the projects together. I can also group according to the frequency of how often it needs to be done which helps me to create my daily/weekly/monthly routines. This page of the spreadsheet got more columns.
I started with these columns:
A. List the rooms and/or areas in your home. Make a list!
B. What needs to be done in this room? I copied and pasted the list from my phone to the spreadsheet. (I can access my iPhone notes via iCloud.com on my PC.)
C. Is this a Project, Routine, Task, or Goal? Projects and tasks were eventually transferred to my Mind Sweep/Master Projects list.
***As a side note, this listing and sorting process works great for your mind sweep as well. As you start identifying whether the item is a task (T), project (P), routine ( R), or goal (G) you may see patterns or groups emerge that can help as you create your Current Projects list for the month.
Step 5: For each task, ask how often this needs to be done. How often am I doing it? What is my goal? How much time does it take?
These questions can be added as additional columns in the chart:
D. How often does it need to be done? Daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
E. How long does it take? Not sure how long it takes? Time yourself the next few times you do this task. You might be surprised by the actual time frame. Some things don’t take as long as you think they do, ie making your bed or emptying the dishwasher. Other things take way more time than you think they do. This is where I sometimes run into frustrations.
F. When will you do it? Now that you know how long it takes, you can accurately schedule time to get it done.
If you’re not the only one living in your home, you could also add a column labeled, “Who is going to do this?”
Now, keep in mind that this list of routines is the absolute ideal. There are too many variables in life to be able to hold ourselves to the ideal. So we’re just going to focus on doing our best to see that things get done as regularly as possible…whatever regularly is for that routine.
Step 6: Make decisions on when these routines will fit into my week, looking at how long each task takes.
I like to look for ways that I can incorporate something naturally into my day without disrupting the flow too much. A few examples:
- Cleaning the bathroom mirror
I wear eyeglasses. I clean them each morning with a small bottle of spray cleaner and a lint-free cloth. I can’t tell you how many years it took me to realize that while standing in front of my messy bathroom mirror with cleaner and cloth in hand, I could spray the dirty spots on the mirror and wipe them clean with the cloth in my hand. (So many years!) I can tell you that it’s much easier to clean a few water spots each day that it is to have to climb on the counter to clean the entire mirror. (I’m short! Haha)
- “Mopping” the bathroom floor
Yes, mopping is in quotations. Here’s why:
On the day that I switch out the bathroom towels, I throw the wet towel on the tile (yes, the one I just dried off with after my shower), I step on it, and I shuffle it around the room. Is it a perfect clean? No. Is it clean enough and presentable? Yes. Do I need to deep clean the edges? Probably, but not every day or even every week.
- Watering the plants
I like having plants in the house but I only seemed to notice them when they were wilting away. I created a trigger on my phone to remind me each Friday to water my plants. Now they’re thriving because they’re not forgotten.
Some routines will need a more active approach than what I’ve just described and will take longer to solidify into your schedule. There are lots of articles on LearnDoBecome.com that address this subject. Here’s just one:
Does this mean that my home is always spotless? Nope! It does mean, however, that I usually feel pretty good about how things are going and I feel comfortable inviting someone into my home. It’s never too far from a quick pick-up away from clean enough.
You’ll notice that I haven’t included my final routines list. There’s a reason for this. 🙂 Your home and my home are different. Your life and my life are different. My routines are often being tweaked and changed. They’re always a work in process; and that’s okay!
By the way, this process works for more than just routines. You can think through relationships and what they need to thrive. You could even have a conversation with the other person to make sure all needs are being met.
I hope this is helpful! It’s amazing to me how much of life and living is covered by routines. I’m finding that the more I’m able to identify and create good routines, the more space I have in my brain to focus on other things that need my attention.
QUESTION: What “hats” do you wear? What are your roles?
CHALLENGE: Take some time to brainstorm your responsibilities within each of these roles. Feel free to use the worksheet linked in the resources below!
If you’re interested in taking a look at Taryn’s Roles, Routines & Responsibilities spreadsheet, you can check it out here! Feel free to save a copy to your own Google Drive account, where you can fill it out for yourself!
Looking for some more tips on implementing routines into your life? Check out this related video, Clean Laundry and a Stocked Fridge.
Remember the 25,000 STEP Command Centrals we are working towards, as a community? We’ve created a page with the details, and we’ll be updating it as we go. Come check it out and join our interest list here!
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.
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