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Daily Routines: Put Your Mornings on Cruise Control

morning-routine, time management tips

Do you know those naturally organized people who seem like they keep their houses clean without even trying? The ones who always seem relaxed and calm and on top of things? It’s not that they are just miraculous human beings — it’s because they have solid daily routines that they have internalized and turned into habits! When you are consistent with daily routines, you can train yourself to complete tasks on autopilot. You begin to internalize those routines, and they change from conscious effort into subconscious habits. When you create habits through routine, it becomes less about motivation and willpower, and more about “well, that’s the thing we do next, no biggie.” Habits are the secret to keeping your house tidy without feeling like it takes a lot of effort — they turn on a “Cleaning Cruise Control” switch in your brain! (Don’t worry — I didn’t think I had that switch, either!)

Starting your morning with a smart routine can really set the tone for the rest of your day. I am NOT naturally organized, and I am NOT a morning person. Not. Even. Close. If the zombie apocalypse started at 6am, my only hope for survival would be my natural ability to appear completely indistinguishable from the undead before noon.

Actual conversation between hubby & I:

morning routine, morning person

via Twitter

Sooo….how does a non-morning person function successfully before lunch? Routines to the rescue!

Part One: Have a Plan

DO try to be the first one awake. This one is TOUGH, but you don’t have to be extreme. Even waking up ten or fifteen minutes before the rest of the house can be enough to make a difference (I’ll explain how to maximize that time in future posts). Getting those first few minutes to yourself before being pulled in a million directions really helps get a jump start on the day. This is especially important if you share a bathroom. There’s nothing worse than having to wait your turn when you’re already running behind!

DO try to complete the same tasks in the same order every day. It’s almost like you’re creating muscle memory for your chores. Think about it — when you brush your teeth or take a shower, you probably complete each step in the same order each time. Do you have to consciously decide to do these things every morning? Probably not, because they are such a habit that you can complete them without even really realizing that they’re happening. It’s the same theory for the rest of your routine. The more you practice completing a task, the less you’ll have to consciously think about each step. What once seemed like a challenge will soon feel more like second nature.

DO plan for efficiency. Think about the order in which you complete tasks, and try to line them up so that they make the most sense depending on your schedule and the layout of your house. Try to avoid backtracking & streamline as much as you can!

DO use your routines to help make the next part of your day run smoothly. I pick my outfit for the next day while I’m already in the bedroom putting away laundry. Picking out my outfit in advance is a HUGE time-saver the next morning, but if I had to set aside a separate time during the day to do that extra step, it wouldn’t happen. It’s MUCH easier (and therefore more likely to happen) if I plan tomorrow’s outfit when I’m already doing something at my closet. We create these routines to save time & make our lives easier — always keep that in mind!

DO use checklists to stay on track! I love the HomeRoutines app because I can create separate routines for different times of day and list my tasks in the order I need to complete them. It also has a built-in timer that I can set as I check off each task! (You know how I love using timers!) HomeRoutines also has tons of cleaning routines already built in, and they’re based on Flylady’s system. Flylady is amazing, but make sure you don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by her advanced daily routines. We all have different personalities and different needs. I had to simplify my routine before I could really be consistent. Do what works for YOU!

daily routine app, homeroutines

via

DON’T try to add too much. Set small, achievable goals. Be realistic. Add one thing at a time, and limit the number of tasks to be completed. Your ultimate goal routine should still be a pretty short list! Maybe spend the first week just trying to stay awake instead of hitting the snooze alarm, then work toward bringing your clothes into the bathroom with you or grabbing the hamper when you leave the bedroom. If you try to change everything all at once, you’ll get overwhelmed, burn out, and want to quit before you’ve given yourself the chance to actually build the habit! We all want to accomplish a million things in the morning, but your routine should be the bare-bones basics that you need to complete to keep life running smoothly before you rush out the door. If you have other must-do tasks each day, think about how you can simplify or spread them out differently on your schedule. Personally, I have a morning routine, an afternoon (after work) routine, and an evening routine. If I tried to complete all of those things in the morning, I would never want to get out of bed!

homeroutines app, daily routines

via

Example of an Efficient Routine

Here’s how I used these principles to streamline my own routine. Please keep in mind that I don’t have kids & I work from home, so my routine might not be the same as yours. I’m just sharing what works for me in the hopes that it will help you understand how to incorporate the above tips into an actual routine!

My Morning To-Do List:

shower, get dressed, hair & makeup, feed the dogs & give Chase his allergy pill, water the plants, start the laundry, eat breakfast, take vitamins

morning routine, task list, time management app

Screenshot of my actual routine via My.HomeRoutines.com

You can see that I have each set of tasks listed separately so that I can time it accurately. Most of the tasks only take 1-2 minutes (feeding the dogs, etc.). I LOVE having my checklist & timer in the morning. It may seem silly, but it really helps me stay on track & turn my routines into habits!

Why I Complete Tasks in This Order:

  • Bringing everything downstairs with me at the same time saves me from taking extra trips to get changed or grab the laundry.
  • Our bathroom & laundry room are right next to each other, and I keep the dog food in the laundry room, so grouping all of those chores together helps with the flow of my morning.
  • As I head into the bathroom, I throw the dirty clothes directly in the open washing machine & start a load of laundry (More info on my low-maintenance laundry process in the next post).
  • After my shower, I can get dressed and do my hair & makeup without running back upstairs. The dog bowl is right by the bathroom door, so I can fill their water in the sink & feed them while I’m there.
  • Taking my vitamins reminds me to give my dog his allergy pills (and vice versa). All of the medications are stored in the kitchen, so it makes sense to take care of that while I’m making breakfast. I can usually complete these tasks by the time my coffee is finished brewing!
  • By this point, my hubby is up & moving and I am officially kicked out of the bathroom, which is why I take care of all of my bathroom routines first thing. That way, I am dressed and able to take care of any morning tasks outside of the house & he can get ready without any interruptions.
  • By the time I finish watering the plants, my laundry is usually washed & I can hang it up on the line or pop it in the dryer.

Side Note: There are tons of other apps that help with routines. If you’re not feeling quite as tech-savvy, you could also write your routine on a dry erase board, stick it in a glass picture frame, or pop it inside a plastic page protector & check it off with a dry erase marker. The point is that you have a thoughtful plan that makes it easy to complete tasks in the same order, stay on track with time, and have to think as little as possible!

Stay tuned for Part Two, where I’ll share some tips & tricks to help simplify & save time while you’re getting ready in the morning. I’ll also share my other daily routines (afternoon & evening) in future posts to show you how everything works together to keep things flowing. We are going to work together to develop smart habits that keep us effortlessly organized!

READER TIP (Nancy V):

I have found routines to be enormously helpful too. But it does take time to establish new habits. I found that I often need to attach a new habit to an existing one. So, for instance, I was always forgetting to take things out of the freezer for the next night’s dinner. But I always empty my dishwasher before bed. So all it took was a note on the front of the dishwasher to remind me to check my menu (I do a weekly one) to see if I needed to prep anything for the next night. After a while, this became second nature.

I also found that attaching an unpleasant task to an existing task (the efficiency argument) helped a lot. For some reason, I really really hate packing my kids’ lunches and snacks. But then I started doing it while I was preparing dinner. I was already in the kitchen, already in & out of the refrigerator and cupboards, waiting for water to boil, whatever–so doing it this way felt so much less burdensome.

READER TIP (Sharon P from Not Just a Mom Me): 

Sharon has been using the “to do” feature on the HomeRoutines app to organize all of her to do lists in addition to her routines! She transferred her master list into the app, and uses asterisks to highlight tasks that take 15 minutes or less to complete. Now she has all of her tasks organized in one place, and can easily chip away at her list — even when she only has a few extra minutes!

Every time you leave a comment, majestic eagles sing your praise. What are your favorite tips & tricks for starting your morning smoothly?

I’m sharing this post at Mary Organizes.

 

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15 comments on “Daily Routines: Put Your Mornings on Cruise Control
  1. NancyV908 says:

    There is a lot of great advice packed into this post–thank you!

    I have found routines to be enormously helpful too. But it does take time to establish new habits. I found that I often need to attach a new habit to an existing one. So, for instance, I was always forgetting to take things out of the freezer for the next night’s dinner. But I always empty my dishwasher before bed. So all it took was a note on the front of the dishwasher to remind me to check my menu (I do a weekly one) to see if I needed to prep anything for the next night. After a while, this became second nature.

    I also found that attaching an unpleasant task to an existing task (the efficiency argument) helped a lot. For some reason, I really really hate packing my kids’ lunches and snacks. But then I started doing it while I was preparing dinner. I was already in the kitchen, already in & out of the refrigerator and cupboards, waiting for water to boil, whatever–so doing it this way felt so much less burdensome

    • Casey says:

      That is BRILLIANT!! Thanks so much for sharing, Nancy. I’m adding those tips to the post! I have to do the attached/piggy-back task setup, too. Maybe I can convince the hubs to help with packing our lunches after dinner tonight! (I work from home, but if I don’t already have something ready to go, I won’t stop what I’m doing to make lunch. Then I wind up hungry & reaching for whatever is easiest!)

      • NancyV908 says:

        Wow, what an honor to be part of your post! Thank you! But I just reread my comment and see that I have made myself seem much cleverer than I really am. I am not sure that I consciously figured out about piggybacking a new habit onto an old one. That explicit tip came to me via an online course, Simplify Your Life With Habits and Routines, over at the awesome simplify101.com. Must give credit where it’s due!

  2. Erin@Managing the Manor says:

    This is spot on! I’m totally guilty of adding on too much in the a.m. If I’m a little ahead getting ready, I’ll empty the dishwasher or fold a load of clothes then without fail, an issue will arise and I’ll forget to feed the dog or something and end of being late. I’ve never written out my routine of “must-do’s” before I leave for work, so I need to add it to my list of lists! :)

    • Casey says:

      Giiiiiirl, I have a list of lists, too! Who would ever imagine that a person could get sidetracked from organizing by organizing other things, which in turn creates the need for more organizing?! It’s a vicious cycle! Maybe we can figure out how to simplify our list of lists next. :)

      • Sharon says:

        That is soooo me! I have a list for my lists! I need to refer to my “Master List” where I highlighted my 15 minutes and under tasks. Somehow my life got crazy over the last couple of months and I got a little sidetracked! Time to get back on top of things and get my life in order!

  3. Sharon says:

    I was just thinking that I needed to establish a more set routine to follow this morning! I do have a daily list, but I need a basic list to keep me on track (my cleaning schedule, projects, errands, etc) because I am not doing so great in the time management area! I feel like somedays I am really productive, while others I feel like I am running around with nothing to show for it! Thank you for introducing me to the HomeRoutines App. I will be downloaded that tonight. It looks like the perfect app to keep me on track and to get rid of all to do lists on scrap paper!

    • Casey says:

      Oh, that is totally me, too! I feel like I either have my house pulled together OR my work, but never both. My next goal is to scrutinize my work routine & see if I can get it streamlined the way I did for my house stuff. I like HomeRoutines for my regular, repeated tasks, but I haven’t used the To Do list feature for daily planning yet. I like that it’s divided into “Today,” “This Week,” & “Later.” That could be pretty sweet! Let me know what you think!

  4. Mary says:

    I feel like you stole these words from my thoughts! LOL! Love it all and I could not agree more! Thanks for linking up and be sure to check in next Monday to see if you were featured. ;)

    Mary

  5. Kelly @ View Along the Way says:

    So much wisdom here! I’m convinced that if I can make myself become a morning person, even waking up just a BIT before the kids, that my whole life will be under control. :) This post was a great inspiration to finally do something about that goal!

  6. Electra says:

    Thank you for this great post. I already follow some routines, but I love the idea f streamlining to get the most of them. That app sounds like a fabulous way to keep on track!

  7. Sandy says:

    Oh, I love this! I am not organized by nature, but love it when things are organized and find that I feel better and function much better as well. I have never thought of doing this, but it totally makes sense. I’ve found that being the first one out of bed is HUGE. Otherwise I may or may not still be in my PJs with bed-head when the hubs comes home from work :S Thanks for sharing!

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