Natalia works full time and is a wife and mother who is also creating an online business. She knows that she should build in time to exercise during the day, but her early mornings are spent on her business. In fact, she has built a morning routine that is serving her well. Her after-work routine is another story: she has the best intentions to work on her business or her fitness. Instead, she sits in front of the TV to unwind for a few minutes. Those few minutes turn into the 5:00 local news, the 5:30 national news, and the 6:00 local news. She usually cooks dinner and she and her husband clean up. By 7:00, Natalia no longer feels like working on the business or working out.
Here's a secret: Natalia is actually me. This was my after-work routine for much of the pandemic. When I started researching information for this blog post, I decided to write down what my actual routine was vs. what I thought it was. Seeing this in writing was a lightbulb moment for me and I had to laugh while exclaiming "How Fascinating". But I didn't realize how my after-work routine wasn't serving me until I brought awareness to it.
Why should you create routines?
Routines give some structure to your day. I've found that routines help me accomplish my priorities while still allowing for flexibility. The routine has become a part of my day, and I find that I no longer have to work at motivating myself. My morning routine and after-work routine have helped me become efficient. I have simple morning and after-work routines. I am also developing my end-of-work routine. I created my morning routine this past year and follow it, even before my first cup of coffee. By doing this, I am ready for any opportunity that may arise.
It's funny because I used to think that a routine wasn't for me because I love being spontaneous. My simple routines actually provide a springboard so that I am ready for spontaneity.
“Little by little, a little becomes a lot” – Tanzanian Proverb
Step #1: Choose one time-of-day routine
There are several times of day where a routine may serve you well. This may change as you move through different phases of your life. Here are some routines that you may want to check out:
Early morning routine
Get the kids out the door for school routine
Leaving for work routine
Starting your workday routine
Ending your workday routine
After work routine
Before bed routine
Step #2: Bring awareness to your daily habits
First and foremost, observe your day-to-day habits and be kind to yourself. Don't judge your failures or your successes.
Grab a notebook and write down what you do. Here's mine prior to researching this blog post:
log off of my work computer (while working from home) or drive home & listen to podcasts (while working in the office)
sit in the living room & watch TV or YouTube to unwind
watch 5:00 local news & scroll through phone
call my dad around 5:15
watch 5:30 national news & scroll through phone
cook & eat dinner
watch 6:00 local news & scroll through phone
watch Wheel of Fortune & scroll through phone
How fascinating! I knew that my after-work routine needed some tweaking, and I knew that I was watching a lot of TV despite telling myself "I hardly watch TV". I had to see it in writing to realize how much I needed to tweak my after-work routine. The adage "You can't change what you don't acknowledge" worked for me.
Step #3: Adjust your routine to work for you
By bringing awareness to my routine, I was able to adjust it slightly. Here's my new after-work routine:
log off my work computer
ride my stationary bike while reading for 30 or so minutes
call my dad
do weights or intervals or a short yoga session while dinner is cooking
watch 6:00 local news - only surf phone during commercials
watch Wheel of Fortune with my husband - it's a good way for us to connect (and shout out the answers)
The goal is to first bring awareness to what you are doing and also to how it is serving you. Once you have awareness, then you can be mindful about what you are doing, you can choose what to focus on and when to focus on it. What works for me might not work for you. However, bringing awareness to your own routines can help you bring intentionality to your own habits and what will work for you.
I'd love to know: what are your routines? Do you have a time-of-day routine that you want to implement?
Are you looking for more ways to learn? Check out these!
This is a productivity course that looks at shifting your mindset, habits, and actions surrounding productivity! It uses research as well as things I (as a not-born-organized person) have learned over the last few years. (I am updating it - if you decide to purchase it, you will also get all of the updated modules when they come out at no extra cost).
I created these tools for you because I always enjoy seeing how other people do things in a step-by-step fashion. I hope these are as helpful to you as they have been to me!