follow routines, words embrace routines

Follow Routines For a Simpler Life

Did you know it’s estimated that the average person makes a whopping 33,000 decisions per day? It sounds insane, but when you consider all the minute decisions we make—like whether to hit the snooze button, what to eat for breakfast, what to wear, and how to style our hair—it becomes clear why we often feel overwhelmed.

Every blog post I write seems to start with the same premise: this is the thing that truly simplified my life. But that’s because my journey to a simpler life led me to discover and implement various strategies that have significantly eased my life. My blog is a platform to share these life-easing strategies, in the hope that they might simplify your life too.

One such strategy that has dramatically improved my life and reduced overwhelm is following routines. So, let’s delve into why we should embrace routines.

Why Routines are Great

While some might view routines as mundane or dull, I’ve found them to be indispensable in my journey towards a simpler, more focused life. Choosing to follow routines can transform our days, making them run smoother. When we build routines, we have a predetermined, step-by-step process in place, thoughtfully designed by our best selves. Once we start a routine, we know what’s coming next, eliminating the need for constant decision-making. Routines help to eradicate those numerous daily decisions that can cause stress. But more importantly, sticking to routines saves energy for those things that genuinely bring us joy and fulfillment.

What Routines Are Best For You?

You might be wondering, “What routines would benefit me?” The answer is unique for everyone as our lives are all different. While it can be useful to draw inspiration from others’ routines (I’ll share some examples below), discovering what works best for you often requires a bit of trial and error. As we journey through different life stages, our routines need to adapt. For instance, my routines have changed since transitioning from full-time work to becoming a stay-at-home mom.

Take a moment and envision your ideal day, week, and month. Not a fantasy life, but a realistic reflection of your current life. What can you do to make it run more smoothly? Are there daily nuisances or overwhelming tasks you could manage better?

Start slowly, and be realistic. You may draft a routine that looks nothing like your current reality, but that’s okay. Just pick one item to get started and build from there. For instance, I used to struggle with waking up in the morning because I stayed up too late, compromising my sleep (which impacts all aspects of life). One of the first things I focused on was getting enough sleep, which meant going to bed earlier. I find waking up early beneficial as it provides me some quiet time before the rest of the house wakes up. Thus, I aim to be in bed between 8:30 and 9:00 PM. While this may seem early to some, it’s what works for me right now. From there, my routine evolved to waking up easily at 5:00 AM to exercise, meditate and journal. Now that I have established my morning routine, I complete many of my health-related tasks before anyone else is even awake.

So, what’s the most crucial aspect for you to address right now? What changes will make your life easier and help you follow routine more effectively? Try to focus on what will make your life easier, simpler, and enrich your life.

Routines You Might Want to Adopt

In my pursuit of a more streamlined life, I’ve transformed nearly all of my routines (or lacking routines). Here are a few areas you might consider if you’re looking to follow routines more effectively. Remember, these are just ideas to inspire you to create your own routines; your life is unique and your routines will be too.

follow routines, alarm clock and teabag

1. Morning Routine

Starting your day on a positive note can set the tone for the rest of your day. It’s like giving yourself a head-start on what’s to come. Here are some activities that could be included into your morning routine:

  • Wake up early and avoid hitting snooze
  • Make your bed
  • Freshen up
  • Hydrate with water
  • Get some exercise
  • Meditate
  • Maintain a journal
  • Spend time reading or learning
  • Have a nutritious breakfast

Remember, the idea is to follow a routine that suits you best. You don’t need to do everything at once. Start small, possibly with one or two tasks, and gradually build up your routine. Consistency is key. You can read my previous post on morning routines here.

follow routines, bedside lamp

2. Evening Routine

Establishing a well-structured evening routine is even more essential than having an effective morning routine. Creating an evening routine aids in relaxation and ensures a good night’s sleep, preparing you for the next day.

Here are a few elements I include in my evening routine that you might want to consider for your own:

  • Home reset
    • Put dishes away
    • Spend 10 minutes tidying areas in the house that need it
  • Personal reset
    • Lay out clothes for tomorrow
    • Make a to-do list for tomorrow (check the weather, any scheduled events)
  • Skincare routine
  • Unplug and go screen-free, read
  • Consistent bedtime

Remember, the goal of an evening routine is to unwind, plan ahead, and make your mornings smoother. Feel free to tailor this list to suit your needs and preferences. After all, the perfect routine is the one you can follow consistently. You can read my previous post on evening routines here.

follow routines, sign saying have a good day

3. Daily Routine

Creating a rough daily routine can help you navigate your day more efficiently by knowing what your next activity is.

  • Morning routine
  • Preparing the kids
  • Doing laundry
  • Breakfast time
  • Outside playtime
  • Lunchtime
  • Nursery/school run
  • Walk
  • Blog/project time
  • Cook dinner
  • Dinner time
  • Kids’ bedtime routine
  • Evening routine

This plan isn’t set in stone; it’s more of a guide to structure our days and prevent inefficient use of time. It helps me understand where my focus should be throughout the day. By following this rhythm, I can enjoy time with my daughter without worrying about other tasks. I know I’ve allocated time for them later.

follow routines, file folder

4. Paper Work Routine

To keep life running smoothly, especially with regards to paperwork, you can:

  1. Designate a spot for mail. This ensures everyone in the house knows where to find it. Check this spot daily.
  2. Deal with paperwork immediately. As soon as paper enters your home, take action:
    • If it’s junk mail, recycle it.
    • If it’s meant for reference, file it.
    • If it needs action, add the action to your to-do list and store it in a safe and easily accessible place.

These routines help everyone know where to find important papers and ensure that necessary actions aren’t forgotten. Plus, they prevent piles of paperwork from accumulating. These simple routine actions can significantly simplify your life.

follow routines, dustpan and brush sweeping

5. Cleaning Routine

One effective method to simplify your life is dedicating a specific day each week for cleaning. This strategy allows you to concentrate your efforts on tidying up, freeing up the rest of your week for other activities.

Here are some tasks to consider for your cleaning routine:

  • Tidy up and return items to their designated places.
  • Clean the kitchen.
  • Dust all rooms.
  • Vacuum/Hoover.
  • Clean the bathroom.
  • Clean any hardwood floors.

To keep tasks simple and manageable, I limit my cleaning routine to these activities weekly. I opt for a thorough clean during my seasonal reset (learn more here), ensuring my home receives a deep clean several times a year. I perform these tasks in the same order each week, which allows me to complete them within an hour or so without needing to think about where to start or finish. This routine helps me maintain a clean, organised home without feeling overwhelmed, enabling me to focus on things that truly matter to me.

follow routines, play written in toy blocks

6. Toy Rotation Routine

Before becoming parents, we resolved not to let toys overrun our home. Now, as parents of a 3-year-old, we realise this is easier said than done. We try to keep the clutter minimal, but it requires continuous monitoring.

We have a system to provide enough toys without creating a mess: toy rotations. We maintain a toy shelf with 8-10 toys, refreshing the selection weekly. This rotation keeps the toys exciting and “new”. Some staples that are always available include musical instruments, an animal set, and a building toy.

The toys we have are divided into three separate boxes, each containing a variety of toy types. Every week, we substitute one box for another. Here’s our process:

  • Organise toys into three weekly boxes.
  • Set up one box’s worth of toys on the shelf.
  • Every week, switch out the displayed toys.
  • Every quarter, remove any toys that have not been played with in that period.
  • Every quarter, replace removed toys with new items.

In our home, this routine works really well. We always have a variety of toys accessible for play, and each toy has its dedicated spot for storage. This routine prevents any feeling of overwhelm (from us or our daughter) despite the total number of toys we have .

follow routines, writing out weekly meal plan

7. Weekly Meal Planning Routine

Implementing a routine for planning meals weekly has significantly simplified my life. Following this routine eliminates daily decisions about what to eat. We shop according to the meal plan, ensuring we never run out of anything and consistently eat healthier food. This routine saves us money, time, and energy.

Here’s how the routine looks:

  • Check what needs to be used up in the fridge
  • Consider if we have any events that will require us to eat out
  • Decide if we want to try a new recipe this week
  • Look through our list of favourite recipes
  • Plan 6 dinners, 6 lunches, and 6 breakfasts (we have a use-up day the day before shopping)
  • Make a shopping list according to the meal plan

Additionally, I find using a recipe box helpful. There’s no need to search on my phone, endlessly scrolling, getting my screen wet, or losing my place. When we try new recipes (once a month, it used to be once a week when I was building a stock of meals we enjoyed), if we like it, it gets added to the recipe box. I don’t have cookbooks or any recipes stored digitally. All the recipes we use are in the recipe box, which makes following the routine much easier.

follow routines, weekly planner book

8. Weekly Reset Routine

Taking the time each week to review the past and upcoming week has become an integral part of my routine. It allows me to enter the new week prepared, knowing that I am ready for almost anything. This weekly reset ensures that nothing is overlooked and leads to my most productive weeks. I don’t waste time wondering what I should be doing because I have it all mapped out.

This is the outline of a weekly reset for me:

  • Review the past week (what worked, what didn’t)
  • Determine if I accomplished my goal tasks
  • Note any events or special dates in the next week
  • Achieve inbox zero
  • Perform a brain dump
  • Plan the next week
  • Schedule next goal tasks

This is very useful for keeping us on track with our goals and desired outcomes.

follow routines, words dream, plan, act

9. Goal Planning Routine

Establishing a goal plan provides a clear path to follow. Without this, it’s easy to remain stationary. A well-thought-out action plan encourages daily progress towards achieving your goals. Implementing this into your weekly and quarterly routines can keep us moving forward. I prefer to do this quarterly as it allows me to maintain focus in a smaller time frame, although some might prefer an annual approach.

Consider these steps:

  • Envision all areas of your life. What does your ideal life look like?
  • Identify the most crucial aspects of this vision. What would you like to work on in the upcoming year? Choose elements that will have the greatest impact.
  • Determine what you can accomplish in the next 12 weeks to help achieve your goal.
  • Develop a 12-week plan with scheduled tasks to keep you on track.
  • Weekly, at your weekly reset, check your 12-week plan and schedule your next week’s task.

By incorporating these steps into your routine, you’ll be continually working towards your goals, making consistent progress towards your ideal life.

follow routines, spring flowers

10. Seasonal Reset

I enjoy practicing a seasonal reset (read more here) to refresh my home, wardrobe, and mindset. This process involves clearing any clutter and preparing for the upcoming season. It’s an excellent opportunity to review the past three months and plan for the next three.

This reset includes:

  • Declutter the entire house
  • Deep clean all rooms
  • Seasonalise the house (duvets, décor)
  • Seasonalise our wardrobes
  • Set goals
  • Pamper/self care

These are tasks I complete each season, providing a clean slate for the next productive quarter. Completing a seasonal reset allows us to review our past quarter, learn from it, and move forward afresh.

Everyone can build routines to simplify life; you just have to find the routine that works for you. In the past, I have attempted to implement routines quickly, rushing and then feeling disappointed when I didn’t get the results I desired. It’s essential to take it slow and celebrate the small victories. Don’t get upset when things don’t go as planned; use it as an opportunity to improve. If your routine isn’t working, adjust it until it does.

The time required to form new habits varies from person to person. If you’re like me, you may have tried to add something new every week and wondered why nothing would stick. I’ve found it’s more effective to go slowly, be gentle with yourself, and only introduce a new habit once the previous one has been successfully established.

Starting slow and gradually adding more makes the process easier. The more you follow a routine, the easier it becomes, as habits begins to form. Good or bad, our habits become automatic parts of our day. Bearing this in mind, let’s set up our days and lives with good habits in the way we want.

By trusting in routines set by your best self, you can reduce mental clutter and decision fatigue that can leave you drained. In turn, you can preserve that energy for other activities. Routines free up mental capacity, enabling you to focus on what you want. I have found building efficient routines so helpful in simplifying my life, I hope they can do the same for you.

What are some routines that make your life easier? I look forward to reading your responses in the comments! 🤍

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