Many, if not all of us, are all struggling to grasp time, the currency of life, and somehow there is less of it to go around each year. From social commitments, work projects, children activities, we are tired, wired and not as efficient as we can or want to be.
As a rebel (per Gretchen Rubins Four Tendency quiz), I find it hard to believe that I am recommending and committing to a routine, but I am starving for time. When I look at the goal to be more inflow with time and find more purpose with my actions, I question, why has it taken me so long to commit?
While no routine is perfect, they can help us accomplish what we want in life without feeling compressed, stressed, overburdened or hurried. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? In the least, there is little to lose when adopting and committing to a routine.
Where do you begin? Start small and start somewhere in your day where it’s easy to make a small change, so it’s not paralyzing to initiate.
What I do, may not work for everyone nor the majority, but perhaps my personal routines can provide you with inspiration and insight on how to build your own. Here is what I try to practice daily to maximize my time.
- Weekly Brain Dump: Before the week begins I dump the numerous things I want to get done for the week including errands, appointments, writing, counseling sessions, social commitments and workouts into my physical planner. My planner is THE anchor for my routine.
- Daily Brain Dump: Come the work week, I will do a word dump at the end of each day of things I specifically need to accomplish the following morning. For my afternoons, I plan to do errands, have a client session or workout (if I didn’t do one at 9 am) as I do my best critical thinking earlier in the day. With all of this, I set myself up to succeed, and my mind and body can recognize the routine.
- Elimination of Screen Time Before Bed: In the evening, I am continuously working on turning my phone off 2 hours before bed. The blue light suppresses melatonin and my sleep is already and always has been very fragile.
- Eat with the Sun: I eat with the sun and strive to avoid eating entirely when the sun is down. This doesn’t always happen on the weekends, but pretty easy to adapt during the week.
- Honor you Internal Clock: In bed by 10 pm, hopefully, earlier, to support my body’s detox clock and to get the rest I need.
- Getting Ready for Bed: Adults and children need bedtime routines. I shower in the evening, read a little before bed, catch up with my husband and take a magnesium/sleep supplement as I turn off the lights.
- Adopt a consistent wake-up time: Oprah wakes up every day at 6:02 am (without an alarm!). The first thing she does is tell herself, “I am alive! Thank you, God.” She then gets out of bed and does stretches/yoga.
- “The 3 – 3’s.” Before getting out of bed, take 9 minutes to 1) breath for 3 minutes without judging any thoughts, 2) next 3 minutes go through things you are grateful for, and lastly 3) visualize the day.
- Delay opening your email until 1-3 hours after waking up. Man, this one is hard!
- Hydrate. Give your body an inner bath first thing. When we sleep, our bodies repair and recycle old tissues/cells. Water is exactly what is needed to wash these out of our system, preventing the materials from being reabsorbed.
- Set your Daily Intentions: I have an affirmation app on my phone I like to use to set the tone for the day. If I do not use the app, I ask myself what intention I want to focus on. I recently got back from London, and for a few days I used the intention to “be grounded,” as I was adjusting back to the time zone, and this intention helped to remind myself to be patient with my inefficiency/fatigue with certain tasks.
- Prioritize Growth: Take 5-10 minutes, or more, to educate yourself. Accomplish this by reading or listening to a podcast. When Warren Buffett was asked about his key to success, he advised, “Read 500 pages every day. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” If you think you don’t have time, research shows it’s financially worth it.
- Exercise (maybe even overlap the idea of listening to a podcast): Working out and moving is a huge part of building massive success. We need to move our body to move our brain and ideas around. In fact, I come up with my best plans while I workout.
- Email Blocks: Create a late morning and late afternoon period of 3-60 minutes to address email. This helps me stay in flow of my work, without being tempted to respond to quick emails. As Pedrom Shojai put it, “The key is to get better at what you do by curating your day to serve you and free up your time.”
- Eat Mindfully: On average people eat 2-6 times a day, and with each eating occasion, it’s an opportunity to bring mindfulness to our day with 1 easy enhancement. Before you take your first bite, take 10 seconds to think about all the places, and hands that the food in front of you reached to get the food in front of you. Doing just this, will improve your first bite and help you tap into satiety.
- Breathe: Make sure you take deep breaths. I do this every time I test my blood sugar (as I have had type 1 diabetes since 1991).
- Use Spare Time to Meal-Prep: Every few days, I will use pockets of time to make large salads, chop vegetables, fruit for the kids, roast vegetables, make lentils, put together a pressure cooker or slow cooker meal. I always pack lunches as I clean up for dinner.
What routines work well for some of you? Comment below as I’d love to hear.