You know how it goes – you return from vacation, your house guests leave, the holidays are over, or you get overwhelmed with a project – and the daily routine you’ve worked so hard to put together comes crumbling down around you. Your brain likes routine. Having a daily routine frees up your brain space to think about ways to solve world hunger, research the best plants for your garden, or any other task that is not consistently done – thus making you more productive.
Once you get out of your routine, not only do you feel out of sorts, it actually makes your brain work much harder making you feel more sluggish and tired.There are so many reasons why our routines fall apart. Often we bounce back and forth between the routines we work on creating and our old habits. However getting back into the swing of things doesn’t have to be a struggle. The beauty is that you don’t have to fall into the exact same routine you’ve had in the past. Here are a few steps to create your new and improved daily routine for self care.
Take time to write a list of the things that you want to do for yourself on a daily basis. These can be things you are currently doing that work well and the “wish list” of what you want to do for yourself but never quite get around to it. Make it as detailed as you need (sometimes including simple things like brushing your teeth in the routine is beneficial). The list doesn’t need to be organized yet, it’s just a brainstorming session to get everything out of your head. Keep the list throughout the day so you can capture various ideas for each part of the day. Also include your tasks that don’t happen every day but maybe weekly, such as go to the grocery store. Here are some questions to consider:
- Are there things you need to do immediately when you wake up?
- Do you need to plan for breakfast? What is necessary for a balanced lunch? How can you plan for supper?
- When do you take your vitamins/supplements/medications?
- Do you monitor your blood sugar or blood pressure?
- When do you best exercise? alone or with others? immediately when you wake up or later in the day? at home or elsewhere?
- How do you relieve stress?
- When is best for you to meditate or pray?
- When do you normally go grocery shopping? Based on the day you shop, what is the best day to plan meals?
Begin to organize your tasks
Spend a little time organizing the tasks you’ve generated based on the time of day or day of the week. Group the tasks you do immediately after waking, with breakfast, late morning, afternoon, with supper, and and continue throughout the day until bedtime. Then move on to tasks that occur weekly such as grocery shopping, lunch with your friends, or visiting the farmer’s market.
When organizing, consider your energy level and when you do your best work. Organize your tasks so you are doing the things that need more brainpower at the times that you are functioning at your best. The taks that take little effort can be reserved for the times when you have less energy. Begin to build your day based on your energy level.
Create your daily routine
Based on the list of everything you need to do for yourself, begin to create your daily routine.
- Often the list of things we want to do for ourselves and the necessities differ quite a bit. Identify the tasks that are a MUST and make sure you have room for them in your day first.
- Once the musts are identified, slip them into a time slot. What needs to happen in the morning around breakfast, in the afternoon, during the evening time, or before bedtime.
- If needed, link one task that you never forget with another that often gets forgotten. Such as taking your vitamin when you put on your deodorant or slipping in your meditation practice just before you brush your teeth at night.
- Sometimes a written reminder that is strategically placed (such as on your I-pad or phone) can serve as a tool to help you get into your routine.
Take it for a test drive
Once you get your routine on paper, take it for a test drive for about a month. How does it feel? Did you allow for enough time to get your tasks done? Do you need to make adjustments? Things may need to be tweaked, so don’t be afraid to make adjustments and re-assess as you go along.
Routines allow you to stay on track with your goals. Their fixed actions are a way to get things done without having to think about it. While life happens and can sometimes get in the way of your routines, rather than beat yourself up over it, use this as a time to re-evaluate and take the steps to get back on track.