Coming off the heels of the summer, most people find it incredibly hard to re-establish school-year routines. Whether or not you have kids in school, our minds naturally tend to relax a little bit more in the summer, which can be such a healthy and needed break. After summer ends, the hard part is adjusting back to reality and remembering what routines set you and your family up for success.
Some people love routine and some people hate it, but we are all better with a little bit of structure in our lives. How do we establish what works and stick to it? It is easy to look at someone else’s life and think you want that person’s routine. However, the truth is that what works for one person may not work for you. Each one of us is created so uniquely with different gifts and abilities; therefore, it is our own job to figure out how we best thrive.
When you are looking to bring some routine back into your life, here are some tips to remember:
The best mornings start the night before.
The most productive days I have always begin with a little forethought the night before. Write down what needs to be accomplished tomorrow and when, including meetings, calls, appointments, etc. From there, set a schedule based on what is most important. For example, if you have a set meeting at 10:00 AM and you need to prepare for it beforehand, block out whatever time you need on your calendar for prepping. If you know that your only chance to work out the next day is at 8:30 AM once you drop the kids off, block it off, book your class, and treat it like a mandatory meeting (for your mental and physical health). When you see your day planned out the night before based on what has to get done and what you would like to get done, the list allows you to set yourself up to be successful with planning and to finish the day feeling accomplished.
Visual reminders are your friend.
When you are establishing a new routine or even an old routine that you have strayed away from, visual reminders truly are your saving grace. For example, if you are trying to remember to drink more water when you wake up to start your day, try filling up a bottle of water the night before and placing it by your toothbrush. That way, the water is the first thing you see when you start your day, and it is already prepped for you in advance. If you are trying to plan ahead, place your planner by your nightstand as a little reminder to plan your day before your head hits the pillow. Maybe you are trying to snack on vegetables instead of chips. You can try making the vegetables the first item you see when you open the refrigerator. Of course, you still have to make the choice yourself, but a little friendly visual does only helps.
Fighting the late summer nights.
Summer nights usually mean late nights and lazy mornings, which make adjusting back to a normal bedtime and wake-up schedule a little more difficult. Whenever I need to hit the hay a little earlier, I like to start winding down for bed about an hour beforehand. Some people can hit the pillow and fall asleep right away. But chances are, that may not be the case for you (especially if you are a woman). Our brains like to work in overdrive, especially when it is time to turn it off for the night. A helpful tip I have learned is to stop checking work emails an hour before bed. This practice will allow your work brain to slow down and hopefully to turn off before bed. It is also helpful to turn your phone on “nightshift” mode. This setting basically helps limit the amount of blue light that comes from your device, aiding your natural melatonin production. Lastly, if possible, turn off all electronics at least 20 minutes before you would like to be asleep. The more time without any blue light, the better, but 20 minutes is better than nothing. These habits will also allow your brain to being the resting process and will prepare you for a great night’s sleep.
Surround yourself with accountability.
In almost every area of life, when we have someone or something pushing us to the finish line, we are so much more likely to succeed. Even the most disciplined people need accountability in some form or fashion. If you are trying to get back into an exercise routine, find a friend to exercise with you or find a place that requires you to sign up for a class in order to go. When you know someone is waiting for you and counting on you to show up, chances are you will make it happen. Maybe you are starting a big project at work and you need to figure out a system to find the time to get it done. Ask a friend to meet with you once a week or even call you once a day to go over the steps you have taken to get closer to finishing. This practice will not only hold you accountable for achieving what you have set out to do but also give you another brain to discuss ideas. Two heads are always better than one. We are called to be there for each other and to sharpen each other every day.
Routines can be hard to form, but with a little planning, they can absolutely be done and can make your life a little (or a lot) less stressful. You owe it to yourself to give these strategies a fair shot to see all that you can accomplish with a little consistency!