No sooner had I established my daily routine, weekly routines and my cleaning checklists when life threw me a few surprises that have made me feel like I am back at square one again. Sick kids, an unexpected family situation, and a change to the kindergarten routine got me well and truly out of routine.
While I’ve kept up with (most of) the daily routines like feeding the family I let some things slide.
There are a number of things that can cause us to break with our routines. Some are expected and are nice things, like holidays, family coming to stay, a new baby. But most often these interruptions are unplanned and unwanted. Like sickness, the death of a loved one or some other family emergency. These kinds of interruptions can affect our mood, feelings and energy levels; which in turn can affect our motivation and desire to get back on track with our household tasks.
So here are my secrets for getting back into routine.
Top 5 tips for getting back into a routine
1. Start and end the day well.
If getting back into routine is your goal then the beginning and end of the day is a good place to start.
Having a good start to the day really helps to set the tone for the day. Rushing around stressed because you are late or can’t find things can affect your mood for the whole day. If you have a morning routine established then you can get up and get started with your day without having to make a lot of decisions. Making decisions can zap us of energy and time, and get us overwhelmed. So it’s a good idea to try and avoid having to make decisions by just following the same routine every day. This is great for time management and productivity.
I’ve also found it helpful to have an evening routine. After a busy day, I can just get into my routine of quickly tidying up and planning for the next day. Then I can have time to relax before going to bed and have a good sleep not worrying about the next day.
You can read more about making a daily routine, and download my printable planning sheet at my Daily Routines post.
2. Establish a to-do list
If you have been out of routine for a while there will probably be a number of tasks you need to catch up on. This can get a bit overwhelming. I find keeping all my notes and to do lists in a Bullet Journal really helpful. Now they don’t get lost or forgotten about. Doing a regular brain dump to write down all those things you are trying to remember will also help you to feel calmer and more organised.
As you follow your plan you will find that getting back into routine happens easier.
3. Re-assess your routine – prioritise what is urgent and what is important
I remember hearing a message a long time ago about getting caught up doing what is ‘urgent’ and never getting to do what is ‘important’. I googled this and discovered that it was a quote from former US President Eisenhower “I have two kinds of problems: The urgent and the important. The urgent are not important and the important are never urgent.” Urgent tasks require our immediate attention so we often focus on these because they need to get done. Important tasks help us to achieve our goals, but since they don’t have a deadline they often get put off.
I found the article The urgent important matrix which included this table very helpful. I often find that I get stuck with the urgent (frequent interruptions to change nappies; getting dinner ready on time) and then I switch to the mindless, escapist activities to unwind. The important but not urgent (Quadrant #2) gets neglected. So it’s probably good that ‘focus’ is my word for this year, as I become more intentional about planning, preparation and relationships.
The urgent important matrix is a great method for getting ahead with your tasks and improving productivity. Not spending so much in Quadrant #4 will help with getting back into routine.
4. Take it one day or one task at a time.
If we are trying to get back into a routine after a long illness or other crisis it can seem very daunting and look overwhelming. It is important to take one day or one task at a time. Maybe your laundry has piled up so you may want to start with that and focus on getting it all sorted and put away. Once you have completed this task you will be more motivated to keep to your routine here and move on to tackling another area.
Don’t beat yourself up that you are out of your routine. Getting back into routine may take some time. You don’t have to strive for perfection, just keep trying.
Perseverence is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other. Walter Elliot
What are your tips for getting back into a routine?