I know I often say a 10 minutes Tuesday project (only 10 minutes!) can make such a huge difference in a space or in your mood. But 10 minutes of planning can also make a huge impact in the direction of your day. Anyone who has dashed out of the door only to forget that important piece of paper, your jacket, umbrella, video to return… can attest to that. “If only I had woken up 10 minutes earlier or prepared 10 minutes the night before…”
Just 10 minutes spent making choices about what you will do at the beginning and end of the day can make a huge impact on the flow of your overall day. Less time spent fretting about what to do next, leaves you with more time for the things that matter most; and isn’t that what we all want?
This is where I sing the praises of routines. They are such an important part of organizing. I explained a little about my own morning routine in this earlier post, but today let’s spend 10 minutes planning your own daily routines by following these simple steps.
Are you ready? Do you have pen and paper on hand? Set that timer for 10 minutes and let’s get started.
Brainstorm (3 minutes)
Write or type a list of all the things you would like to get done in a day. Include simple items as well as preventative “maintenance tasks”. Take these 3 minutes to empty your brain. And be sure to use the full-time here, don’t stop early, more ideas may come. No really, humor me and write it all down. There is something about writing things down that really lets your mind relax and get everything out. Remember there are no wrong answers in brainstorming! Ready, go.
Here are a few samples to get your creative juices flowing-
If you are like most of us, your list might be huge and overwhelming! Don’t worry, this is only the brainstorming phase. Your ideas and visions of productivity can be as lofty as you like during this part.
Divide and Conquer (2 minutes)
Spend another 2 minutes labeling each task with either:
- afternoon/after lunch or before dinner prep
- evening/before bed
As you categorize each task, you can began to see a skeleton of your daily routine forming.
Also as you sort through your list, there may be tasks that are better suited as weekly tasks instead of daily to-dos. Label those for sorting later, so you can be sure to limit this list to your daily tasks.
Keep it Simple (3 minutes)
Now is the part where you get realistic. Your brainstormed list could have dozens of to-dos in each group. As difficult as it may seem, weed through these items and choose what is most important to you. Try to limit your routine to 4-5 tasks for each period of the day. This keeps the routine manageable and repeatable which provides a quick transition to the rest of your day. Be ruthless if you need to drop tasks. There will always be maintenance items to get done, focus on only the most importance tasks.
For example, you could have a long evening list that includes: mail processing, cleaning, laundry, craft time, catching up on reading, etc. If your routine looks overwhelming you won’t want to actually do it. The goal is to pick what’s most important now. You can always rework your routine as your priorities shift. 10 minutes a day of paper sorting means that soon that monstrous pile of paper will be gone and you can change it to 5 minutes of paper maintenance and add in another element to your routine to mix things up.
Also, stay motion minded and order your tasks by area of the home. For instance, for the morning routine list your bedroom tasks first and then all your kitchen tasks to avoid wasting time pacing throughout your home.
Stay Realistic (1 minute)
Look at your list of 4-5 tasks for each period of the day and then try to let go of perfection! Things don’t always go smoothly. Sometimes no matter how much you plan, things will go wrong. But having a plan in place will give you a landing pad to go back to and prevent you from doing non-essentials or completely losing track.
Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or two. One or two off-days will not decrease your chances of making your routines a daily habit (as long as you return to it right after those few bumps in the road).
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat (daily)
Experts say that it takes somewhere between 21 to 66 days for an activity to become a habit depending on how difficult the new habit is. It can become even easier to form a habit if good rewards go along with it, like more time in the day to do what you really want to do.
If you stay focused on the positive rewards of your daily routines it can make it easy to continue to repeat them during the month or two before they become an ingrained habit. That is exactly what we want; mindless, productive habits! (this doesn’t mean no work went into creating them, but it does mean that once they are a part of your day, you won’t have to spend unnecessary energy getting through them.) Especially as you are getting the rhythm of your new routines, don’t be afraid to post them on a wall nearby, or keep the list on hand. Soon, you’ll have the routine memorized.
An empty sink is part of my daily routine.
As your repeat your daily routines, remember you can adapt them as you discover what works best. Is it missing something? Set a timer and get a sense of how long it takes. Is it too long, can you remove a task? (It’s also fun to look back after a month or two and see how much faster you are able to get through your routine).
Once your routines are established there will be more time in your day to get back to what matters most. If you would like to see some more examples, you can check out my morning routine here , or Money Saving Mom has a printable reference sheet to get you started (there is a customizable form too). Simple Organized Living also has a printable daily task sheet that shares her daily routines.
I would love to hear what you do to keep your day flowing as smoothly as possible. Is there one thing that you feel can make or break your day, like a made bed? Do you have daily routines already? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants? Share any questions or where you are in the process in the comments section. Happy planning!