Before September’s Rising Tide Society #TuesdaysTogether topic came up, I was working hard to create good habits in my life. Infact, I had already started writing the bullet points for this post earlier this summer. So you can imagine how excited I was when “Routines” became the topic! I loved Davey Jones’ post on “Daily Routines for More Energy.” You must read it: HERE
First of all. Lets talk about how I am NOT naturally good at routines or following a schedule. (Some people are!) Rise and shine at 5am? Yah, a year ago if you’d told me I would create these habits and do my best to stick to them I probably would have snaughled (snorted while laughing), because I’m classy like that.
Let’s back up. From early 2011 to the beginning of 2013 I was very very sick. I had unresolved health issues that completely wiped me out, leaving me too weak to get out of bed for weeks at at time. I’m so thankful for amazing doctors who helped me get to the root of my issues and address them in a way that fixed the issues rather than masked the symptoms. That being said, I know I have friends who simply do not have the strength to maintain rigorous routines. This is not to make you feel bad. But, I do encourage you to set small, attainable goals.
Even after I regained my health I still had a hard time learning to balance everything. I tried and failed over and over. I was just running in un-organized circles. It was an exhaustingly and unproductive way to live life day after day. I felt like I had NOTHING to show for how EXHAUSTED I felt. I would shrug it off. You know. I’m a mompreneur and not everything can be perfect like some of those Instagram accounts I see.
But disorganization stresses me out and eats away at my soul. It doesn’t take long before I start to want to just shut down emotionally and physically.
The wrong solution? I survived by keeping a perfectly organized and spit polished office desk where I would hide from everything else. I mean I can be OCD about my paperclips and no one could tell from my promptly responded to emails that my toilet was growing nasty things.
I finally hit a breaking point earlier this year and I determined to make lifestyle changes. Until the Rising Tide Society topic this month, I had been calling these changes my New Habits. But I think Routines is better.
How have I successfully made these changes and sustained them for longer than 3 days?
I started slow, setting attainable goals.
My very first routine earlier this year was determining to make my bed every morning, something I rarely “had time” to accomplish. Shortly after I added getting fully dressed every day, it’s not always fancy, but it’s not a bathrobe.
I haven’t been perfect and there’ve been times when my days were complete PJ and Netflix flops. But with each time I failed, I came back stronger.
I get up early. Like 5am early.
I plug my phone in on the FAR side of the room and set my alarm. When it goes off then I HAVE to get all the way out of bed, put my feet on the COLD floor and go alllll the way across the room to turn it off. I have to purpose in my heart to NOT return to bed. (Yes I give myself a pep-talk the night before.) Returning to snuggle with my warm and comfy husband will result in failure for us both. (He usually gets up about 5:20 himself. He’s done this long before I ever joined the club.)
Fun fact: If I get up at 5am I’m actually pretty chipper and ready to take on the world. Must have something to do with sleep cycles and all that. If I wait to get up between say, 5:30 and 7:00 am I am a bear, can’t hardly lift my eyelids and DON’T TALK TO ME. And then it’s usually about 11am before I’m even sort of productive.
I invest in ME.
The first hour of my day is dedicated to coffee, quiet time and personal development. There is nothing more beautiful than a New Mexico sunrise.
This also means I have made hard yet wonderful changes in my physical activity and the food I eat. The fuel I put into my body makes a HUGE difference in how I feel, both mentally and physically. And working-out is just amazing. I have begun to crave a work workout and afterwords I feel like a million dollars! (This is were many peoples jaws sag again. Lyndsey gets up at 5am and works out because she WANTS TOO?)
I do the hard stuff first.
For me working out, deciding what’s for dinner, packing Nelsons lunch, folding socks or cleaning toilets are the “hard parts” of my day. So I get them out of the way as early as possible. If I’ve reached noon and I haven’t worked out or started laundry, there is a 90% chance I’ll find ways to avoid it. Two or three days of “putting off” gets me out of routine and then I slowly find myself slipping back into my old habits.
My day is planned ahead of time.
From the moment my feet touch the floor to the time I go to bed I have a general game plan…the same one I follow almost every day.
I have an actual outline of generally what I want to accomplish and when I want to accomplish it. These time slots are strategically placed for me so that I can focus hard on a project, then “reset” my mind with something totally different. Otherwise I obsess on one thing and start making excuses of why I need to “just finish this one thing” before I quit.
My planner. If I didn’t do it the evening before, then in the morning I will make detailed checklists of things that have to be accomplished that day in the office. My list of housework/laundry tasks hang on the fridge and are broke down by the week day. Those tasks, repeated in the same routine, have become second nature and I rarely reference my list.
When I sit down at my office desk I eliminate distractions. My daughter is usually down for a nap or playing with her special “quiet time toys”, all social media is turned off, and no TV shows on the iPad. Then I go down my checklist, bringing to full completion ONE thing at a time. Sometimes I list more than I can chew in one day and if I’ve reached the end of my work time-slots for that day and I still have more to do, I shift it to the next day.
I am flexible. Kinda.
I have a toddler. Have to run errands. Enjoy building friendships. Or want to go ride horses with hubby. Somedays my routine has to be re-arrainged a little. But I have found I have more time to play when I am consistent with my routine. So when other things come up I can say yes more and participate without a cloud of things “I should be doing” hanging over me! If I don’t get the laundry done on Wednesday, no big deal, I do it on my “catch-up” day! I just don’t want to do 5 days of laundry on my catch-up day. It’s overwhelming and then I’ll procrastinate.
Turn off those phone notifications!
Smartphones and my other devices are highly addictive. And it sucks the time out of my day. LARGE parts of my day. To help me avoid mindless-browsing I completely shut off ALL notifications for everything but calls and texts. Without it beeping and buzzing in my back pocket I am far less likely to get sucked into the trap. I only check emails at 10am and 2pm, which is when I first sit down for office work in the morning and afternoon. I don’t check them again before I leave my desk because then I want to respond and it keeps me another 30-45 minutes longer than I intended to spend at my desk. I’ve learned that being a wife and mama are far more important that responding to emails within 10 minutes of receiving them.
Also, putting my phone across the room at night really eliminates the temptation to lay in bed until the wee hours of the morning watching Buzzfeed videos.
So how has setting and sticking to routines actually changed my life?
– I’m happier because I feel less like a failure. In fact, I feel pretty superwoman. – I’ve lost 20 pounds in 3 months (40 all together)! – I have free time. Like REAL spare time people. Guilt free TV shows anyone? – My kiddo is happier and eats less dog-food. – Nelson doesn’t have to wait on his lunches to be packed. – The puppy doesn’t poop in the laundry room anymore because I have forgotten to walk him. – I always have clean clothes to wear. – Unexpected guests do not throw me into a panic attack.
How Routines Have Changed My Life | Being a Mompreneur | Copyright 2015 Lyndsey Garber Photography