How to Create Rituals and Routines (with Free Printables!)
Recently, I asked you guys what topic you would like for me to write about, and "Rituals and Routines" won by a landslide. Apparently this is a pain point for a lot of people. It certainly is for me and I think I've made some progress in rising above it.
In this post I'll happily share what I've learned so far. :)
One point I want to highlight first is that when I work on getting better at something, the question I ask myself CONSTANTLY through the process is, "How can I make this as simple as possible?"
I want you to remember to ask yourself this question too.
Because as Leonardo DaVinci said, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Good old Leo.
So, "Simplify, simplify. simplify!" Good old Thoreau.
I'm going to share two (yes, only two) things that I do to make the practice of having a routine as SIMPLE and EFFECTIVE as possible.
Remember, true success comes out of making things simple, not complicated. So try not to dismiss these tips as being "too simple." That's the whole charm and magic of it!
By implementing these techniques, you can expect to:
- craft a better to do list each day without having to think on it
- have less decisions to make throughout the day (because you already made them once)
- start your day off with a clean slate automatically
- stop forgetting things, missing deadlines, letting things pile up
- have a clear mind (ahhh, yes!)
I realize that everyone has different schedules, commitments, goals, focus areas, but have no fear! These tools I'm about to share with you can work for anyone. And remember, no matter how complicated you feel like your life is, the solution is always simple. Always.
Ok, let's get rolling!
When I wake up in the morning, I immediately go through my morning routine (pictured above). It's the same every day, so I know exactly what I need to do without even thinking about it. I keep this picture of it on my bedroom wall and look at it while I'm working through it, mentally checking off circles as I go along.
I'm basically "walking" my way through the circles...
- receipts taken out and placed in receipt jar
- restock materials I use in meetings
- check wallet to see that contents are in order
- car key is hooked on
- filing box is organized (any papers from yesterday needing to go in the right place?)
- generally in order
- clothes hung, folded, put away
- wash if it's laundry day
- clear of anything that doesn't belong
- wipe away dust
- Life Binder ready to go
- everything in order, where it belongs
- plug in my iPhone and iPad
(make-up and stuff)
- put away (instead of strewn around)
- take out trash, anything that doesn't belong
- make sure everything is generally neat and clean
So what I've done here is I've identified all my BASES. These are areas where I "touch base" throughout the day. What I've found, is that when these areas are not clean and organized, it has a chaotic effect on my subconscious throughout the day.
Think about it, there is NO GOOD REASON to go through another day where...
- you're searching everywhere for your keys
- you can't find a business card or pen in your purse the second you need it
- your car looks and smells like you just don't care
- your clothes are on the floor - or worse - they're on your bed and you sleep on top of them because you never got around to folding them and putting them away
- you want to change your life but you can't even find the energy to make your bed?
- you take forever to get ready because you have to dig around for something to wear
Sounds harsh, but I'm just sharing what I had to tell myself. I had to realize what's really at stake when I let the simple, seemingly insignificant things slide. I realized that if I wanted to UPLEVEL my life, I had start from the foundation. I had to look at my core habits. Because how we do one thing is how we do everything. That last sentence is worth reading twice.
So I do these things in the morning because that's when I have the energy to do them and it helps me launch into my day. When everything is done, I'm then able to sit down and get to work or get in my car and go to work. There's no messing around. Everything is where it needs to be. I don't forget anything. I don't need to remember anything. I've set myself up to use my brain for more important things.
Identify what you want to use this printable for. You can use it for a morning routine, before school routine, before work, end of day...write down the name of the routine in the middle circle.
I currently only have the one I just described to you. I advise just starting with one.
Next, determine what areas/tasks will branch off of that routine. So maybe you want to establish a "Before Work Routine." The outer circles could cover the following:
- drink 16 oz water
- 10 minutes yoga
- clear desk
- turn on laptop
- eat a healthy breakfast
- make coffee
- plan the day
- read 15 minutes from inspirational book
Now, it shouldn't take you FOREVER to get through your 8 circles. It literally takes me 10-15 minutes to get through mine. This is because I did take 2-3 days to really clean, minimize, simplify, and organize my bases, so that all I do now is maintain order.
So, if your desk is crying out for a blocked out, focused period of time of decluttering and organizing, then don't add it to your routine until you get that part done. Otherwise, you'll wake up, look at your overflowing laundry or piled-high-and-deep desk...and you'll go right back to bed mentally.
Positive routines help you maintain momentum, but if you never got the ball rolling in the first place by taking the time to get things set up for success, then there's no momentum to maintain.
It's like having a goal to exercise early in the morning. If you wake up tomorrow at 5am and think you're going to automatically hop right to it, you'll roll over instead and hit snooze...right? BUT! If you go to sleep with your exercise clothes on, put your running shoes and water bottle by your bed, and have an accountability partner who you know is going to be outside waiting for you, then momentum is pretty easy to find.
(side note: I hate running, but it's a good example. I'm yoga/zumba girl.)
Okay, so I hope I explained well enough the how and why of the daily routine printable for you. But if you need more specific help, then leave your question in the comments. :)
Ok, I'll be honest, I'm not on top of my weekly routine yet. I just set it up last week and I'm still figuring out what works and what doesn't.
But I already feel SO much better knowing that I've identified all my core activities that keep my businesses and life rolling along. It feels good to get it all on one piece of paper.
Now, the secret to this is to refrain from filling up your weekly routine with any and every activity you can think of. You really have to sit down and ask yourself, "What activities absolutely MUST get done on a weekly basis?"
These are activities that are ESSENTIAL to your ability to maintain balance and progress in your life. Ultimate and perfect balance is not realistic, but if you KNOW that when you get X done on Y day, then A, B, and C flow better, then you really need to focus on the X and Y, right?
Ok, let me make this easier to understand.
So, every Tuesday, there is a farmer's market event in my village. Through trial and error, I have figured out that when I don't take the time to go to this market on this day and buy my fresh fruit and veggies for the week, then I never get around to grocery shopping or eating healthy. See?
Go to Farmer's Market on Tuesday = healthy, happy, easy
Don't go to Farmer's Market on Tuesday = unhealthy, unhappy, hard
So, on the top bar (light blue boxes), you're going to write in the different areas of your life. Now, see how the boxes are aligned with different days of the week? After you determine your priority activities, you need to write the activities under the appropriate areas of your life and across from the appropriate days.
You might end up messing up a few times as you hash it all out. And as time goes by, you'll find that you need to switch things around to make it all work and flow better.
The goal and benefit is that you're getting it all out of your head. You're giving yourself permission to not have to think about everything all of the time.
After you get this filled out (and please, don't think you need to fill every single box. That's not realistic), you will have the peace of mind of looking at this printable and knowing exactly what you need to do for the day.
For example, if it's Tuesday, you know that you're spending time on "Business & Finance" for your "Blog," editing articles for clients of your "Freelance Biz," and updating your "Personal Budget" for your "Life."
You're not worried about when you're going to get around to cleaning out your Gmail or do laundry (because that's for Friday) or when you're going to email invoices and receipts (because that's for Thursday). Today is Tuesday and you're focused on taking care of Tuesday.
Do you feel the bliss yet?
Keep this printable where you can see it daily. I keep mine above my computer desk.
If you have any further tips or questions, leave me a comment or you can email me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love hearing from you and I hope this post has helped you make things easier and simpler in your quest to take 100% responsibility for your life.
Ok! The moment you've been waiting for: Here are your free printables: