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:
Clean Laundry and a Stocked Fridge: Our Family’s Routines
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.
If you are thinking this podcast might help others, please take a few minutes to write a review in your podcasting app! We would love for you to share something that you’ve done that has moved your life in a positive direction. Each rating and review helps other people who want to architect lives of excellence find us and connect with our community–so thank you for helping us to share this message!
I’ve enjoyed this episode immensely, so many great ideas you’ve talked about!
I’ve also wanted to mention that if you haven’t already talked to Allie Casazza you guys should seek her out for an episode. She is a huge fan of rhythms and routines, essentialism and action taking … most of what you also advocate here. You would love her latest podcast episode on action taking.
Thank you for your continuing work here and POM, cannot wait to hear your next episode! 🙂
April I really like your podcast! I have been looking for something that is informational and self-helping at he same time. You motivated me to start and keep a ToDo List on my phone. Although some days I can’t follow it each consecutive day due to my crazy schedule. But I am taking those little steps. It is helping me to be more conscientious in my work and schooling (working on my MSN). I look forward to hearing your podcasts. Very educational ?
I listen to every podcast to help me learn more and more and get my crazy busy life in order. Learning something new every time!i use your thoughts and suggestions even in my work as well as home. Now if I use the routines stuff in order, I’ll have more time to get my command central in place and un clutter my home and life. Been in STEP for along time…love it!
Taryn Wood says
Maggie, thanks for your comment. You’re well on your way!! Keep up the good work!!
Thank you so much for your podcasts and your STEP system. I have never found anything that has worked to help me get organized. I am going very slowly and I stumble a lot, but your program works!
Kimberly K Crowley says
I love the positivity of this podcast… I have found I am able to be less critical of myself and allow myself to do and be better rather than perfect…
Susan Rasmussen says
I love this! For so long I would create the “ideal” list of what I wanted my day to look like. Then I would beat myself up because I didn’t get it all done.
Realizing that my “ideal” list is just that, “ideal.” I rarely have an “ideal” day so why do I expect that from myself. Learning that I can choose from that list is an amazing eye-opener!
Thank you so much!
Taryn Wood says
Susan, I’m so glad this has been helpful to you!! Thanks for your comment!
Is there a way to save the list from Google Drive into Evernote? If there is, I can’t seem to figure it out.
Taryn Wood says
Chele, great question! I don’t personally have experience with this but I was able to find this tutorial on Evernote.com: https://help.evernote.com/hc/en-us/articles/218734618-How-to-attach-Google-Drive-files-to-notes. You may have to save the Google file to your drive before you’re able to save it in Evernote. We’d love to hear how this works for you. Thanks for being part of our community!!
I’ve found the Motivated Moms website and app to be awesome in establishing home routines. They have recently been going through rebuilding the app but it is available in printed form on their members website. The beta has been released to folks already members.
Taryn Wood says
Thanks for the tip, Lynna! We’re glad you found us and are thankful you would take the time to comment here.
The addition of the concept of “outcome resistance” and “process resistance” was such a valuable addition to this podcast! And was just what I need to hear right now. THank you.
Taryn Wood says
We’re so glad it was helpful to you! Thanks so much for being with us, Sabrina!
Brigitte Cyr says
Thank you April and Taryn for such an inspiring podcast. Now I have such great ideas and have already filled out a spreadsheet that Taryn had left for us. I have a list of things that I have to do in each room as a routine and then weekly and so on. I’m so inspired by all of you! On my furlough I have transformed my home with this program, it’s a life changer. I was always a clutter magnet and could never keep up, I was always overwhelmed. With this program I am getting out of my clutter!
Taryn Wood says
Brigitte, thanks for your kind words! I’m so glad the podcast and the spreadsheet were helpful to you. Keep up the good work!!
Sharla Dance says
So I love this!!! And a question… project, routine, task, goal. Can you give clarifiers to each of the categories so I recognize them more easily in my own life? Thank you!
Taryn Wood says
Great question, Sharla!
A task is a “one & done” type of thing. Example: the neighbor kid left a toy at your house. The task would be to return the toy.
A project has a definite end. Example: paint the house.
(a project must have a beginning and an end.)
A routine (single or multi-task) happens at regular intervals; even if that routine is only 2-3 times per year.
Goals are the hopes or end results you are looking for in your life. Projects are the building blocks of goals.
I hope this helps! If you are part of our STEP program, you can see additional definitions in the STEP Glossary. Thanks for being with us!
This is what we talked about in office hours today! very helpful.
This podcast was really good. I need to let go of checking email so much. Thanks for the inspiration.
Taryn Wood says
Jen, yes! This is exactly what we were talking about. I’m so happy to hear that the podcast was helpful. Keep up the good work! Happy STEPping!!
This was very helpful for me. I go back and listen to some of these podcasts over again. I love practical and actionable ideas. This is the best self-improvement program available. I do read other books that are suggested by you April, but you put everything together so well that going through the Mastery Program was most enlightening and life-changing for me. Thank you.