“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” – Gretchen Rubin
Are you craving a little more stability and ease in your life? I know I’m always looking for ways to make my days run more smoothly, and I’ve found that sticking to a daily routine has created space for this in my life.
Routines can create consistency in our schedules, help with time management, and encourage us to build healthy habits in our lives. On the other hand, our routines can hinder us if we’re not being intentional or purposeful with them.
In this post, I’m sharing a step-by-step plan to help you map out an ideal daily routine that encourages you to be intentional with your time.
Why Your Routine Will Change Your Life
Once upon a time, I completely resisted the idea of routine. I thought that routines were boring, mundane, and rigid – three things I am not a fan of. I also had this firm belief that I couldn’t stick to routines because I could never get the motivation to follow through with my plan.
Fast forward to now and routine has given me stability in my life, helped me become more productive, take better care of myself, and create boundaries that prevent me from living on autopilot. Routine has also helped me to be more consistent – something I seriously struggle with. Read about my morning self-care routine here.
When I do the habits and activities that make up my bigger routine, I feel a lot more stable in my life. Having a routine means I know which order to do things in and this reduces the number of decisions I have to make – which is especially important in the morning when I’m low on time.
Is there a downside to routine?
Of course, there are routines that we fall into because of habit. Coming home from work and vegging out on the couch becomes a routine if you do it every day. This isn’t necessarily the best use of your time if it’s all you’re doing in the evening (but here’s what you can do instead).
While some argue that routine stunts our personal growth, I believe that an intentionally curated routine can bring us greater clarity, direction, and fulfillment in our lives. If we make a conscious effort to add activities into our routines that nourish our minds, bodies, and souls, we are less likely to get burnt out, bored, or stuck in negative patterns.
How To Create Your Ideal Routine
Have I convinced you that a daily routine is something you need in your life? Okay, let’s get on with the good stuff! I’ve put together a few steps that will help you map out your own routine, so let’s make it happen!
Step One: Choose The Routine Type
First, decide which type of routine you’re trying to create in your life. Is it morning, night, afternoon, etc.? Most people gravitate towards a morning routine because mornings can feel like such a struggle, but a night routine is also beneficial if you want to stop staying up too late.
Freebie Alert: Get a free night routine planner here. Get a free morning routine planner here.
Step Two: Find Your Motive
Think about why starting a routine is important to you. What’s your motive? Why are you trying to create a routine? Is it because everyone else says how important it is? Or maybe you want to stop rushing out the door in the morning or stop staying up so late. Get clear on your reason for starting a routine because this will give you more motivation to make it happen.
Step Three: Edit Your Current Routine
Think about your current routine and what you do on a daily basis. Is there anything that you could spend less time doing or remove completely? Maybe you want to stop snoozing your alarm or spend less time watching Netflix. You should also take into consideration the things you need to do daily, regardless of whether you like doing them or not. Maybe that’s eating breakfast before you leave for work, choosing what to wear, packing your bag, or taking the dog for a walk.
Read This Next: How To Start A Self-Care Routine Using The Power Hour Method
Step Four: Add Some Goodness
Think about what you’d love to add to your current routine. Is it practicing yoga in the morning? Making a smoothie? Reading before bed? Make a list of 8-10 things you’d LOVE to add. Then narrow that list to 3-5 things (because we gotta be realistic here, my friend).
Ideas for Your Routine
- Writing your to-do list
- Eating breakfast or dinner
- Taking a shower or bath
- Working out or taking a walk
- Listening to a podcast
- Taking the dog for a walk
- Doing your makeup/taking off makeup
P.S. If you love reading about other people’s routines, I’d recommend checking out the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. So freakin’ interesting.
Step Five: Map It Out
Write down what your ideal routine looks like with the things you need to do and the things you want to do. From there, put things into an order that makes sense. Think about how much time you’d like to dedicate to each activity or habit – and also keep in mind the amount of time you have to make it all happen. Consider if you’re trying to get to bed by 10 pm and you have a list of 5 things to do, how much time can you realistically spend on them? Try not to overcommit yourself because this will only make it harder to complete your routine.
Read This Next: How To Balance Your Time & Create A Flexible Routine
Step Six: Make It Happen!
You’ve got it all planned out, so now it’s time to try it out. I’d recommend writing down your new routine and keeping it in an obvious spot where you’ll see it and be reminded of your intention (I forget 99% of things unless they’re written down in front of my face). Try out your brand new routine and see how it flows. Remember you can always come back and make tweaks. Don’t give up right away if it’s not sticking – you’ve got this!
What does your ideal routine look like?
Leave a comment down below with your answer! I hope this has given you some inspiration to create more intentional routines in your life. I encourage you to bring awareness to the routines you currently have, and I challenge you to make healthy tweaks to your routine as often as you can.
P.S. Need help sticking to your routine? Read this post next.
Sometimes I stray away from routine because I don’t want it to become restricting or disallow me from being spontaneous. However, I TOTALLY agree that routine is so beneficial for your personal growth if you are intentional with it. I will definitely be adding 3-5 things to my current routine…one of them being working out (I’ve gotten a bit lazy in terms of exercise lately). Great post Catherine!
Mia | http://www.verymuchmia.com
I am so with you on that, Mia! I never want my routine to be restrictive, so I never push myself too much with it. It helps to switch something up in your routine every month or so!
Martae up at 5:30, do yoga, meditate, eat breakfast and read. It adds so much time to my day before I even get to the office at 9. I have always been a routine person (sometimes to the extreme) and sticking to them comes really easy. I think routines are great to add structure to your day and they make you so much more productive!
Slightly jealous that sticking to routines comes easily to you, Marta!
Thanks for sharing this! It’s very inspiring and I loved to read it because I’m a so into daily routines ;)
I love being organized and doing the same little ritual every morning.
I usually wake up, check my IG and other Social Media’s . Then I’ll go get ready. Nothing special as I’m a sports wear all day every day kind a girl ?
Then I’ll have breakfast, my absolut favorite part! I’m always waking up starving.
After I’ll read a few pages and then start my day!
As of speaking, I’m off now ;)
Lovely day to all of you!
Breakfast is the BEST part of the day haha. Thanks for sharing your routine, Tara! <3
I’ve recently started meditating on a morning, yoga after work and reading before bed.
Sounds like the perfect routine, Steph!
I’m a huge fan of routine. I started reading on habit formation years ago and have been experimenting with routine ever since. Your Number Five: Map it out! gave me a great idea. Why don’t I DRAW it out?! I have this huge friggin’ white board down in my man cave. Maybe that’s the place to start my new exercise routine!
Ooh that’s a great idea, Xyrnus!
It is so fascinating reading all of this! Thank you all for sharing!
I usually do this routine five days a week:
I set up my clothes and usually snacks and food the night before. It spares me so much time in the morning!
I wake up around 7am. Shower. Get ready. Make time to make and eat breakfast as well as sit down to enjoy it. Help put my grandma on her senior center bus. By this time it is 8-8:15am.
I leave the house by 8:20-8:30 and head to 9:30am ballet which is 40 minutes away from my house by bus (I live in San Francisco.) By the time class is done it is 11am and ready to conquer the rest of my day!
Have a great day everybody ~
I loved reading your routine, Allegra! Setting up clothes and food the night before saves SO MUCH TIME.
A little awhile ago I stumbled across your blog post that talked about a night routine. I stay up waaaay too late and couldn’t seem to change that. So I wrote up a very simple routine and posted on my walk. 9:45 screens off and read in bed, 10:15 brush teeth and wash face and say prayers, 10:30 in bed and lights out. I haven’t been able to stick to it exactly, but I follow it pretty close and having that routine established has made such a difference and I am definitely going to bed earlier more consistently. I guess it’s just like weuse rountine to sleep train a baby – it also works for adults!
That’s so great to hear, Marian! It really can make such a difference!
Thanks Catherine for this amazing article! I know I’ll be reading it again and again as I figure out my best morning routine.
I just recently started one mostly out of need and what I value a lot right now – a healthy mind and body. I decided to start a simple yoga routine followed by prayer. I know, so many do yoga in the morning. But I never have. I run, walk and hike yet love yoga’s calming effects on my mind and body yet I don’t have time right now for an hour of yoga. So “sun salutation” every morning has given me my “fix”.
I’ve also made it a routine and now habit to floss my teeth. I never have in my life been consistent yet for 6 weeks now I have! I think it’s sticking.
Your advise on don’t over commit is perfect because when we first start those new routines it can quickly become too much and then we tend to quit.
Wonderful post, as always!
Ahh flossing! I used to be really good at doing it every day, but I stopped doing it – now I’m thinking I need to get back into that habit. 6 weeks is amazing! So glad to hear that you’re experimenting with a routine that works for YOU!
I really enjoyed this post! What are your thoughts on a nightly routine without technology?
I’ve recently stopped looking at my phone an hour bed and it has helped me fall asleep much faster. I think that setting an intention for my night changes the speed of my brain and slows things down. Some yoga followed by a shower is always helpful. I also like to write down something I’m grateful for everyday and here is something I wrote about my grateful journal and being intentional. https://emgray18.wixsite.com/mysite-2/articles/being-intentional
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Hi Emily! I definitely think it makes a huge difference when I shut off technology before bed. No matter what, I always try to read before bed so that a screen isn’t the last thing I look at. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on being intentional! Love it.
I have severe depression, which causes instability in so many areas of my life. Poor rest leads to tired days, which leads to negative interactions at work, which affects the quality of my work, etc. Like you said, having a routine is something that becomes automatic, and I spend less time fretting over things within my control. It helps me maintain a clean house, because I know what I’ll be doing at what point in the week. It provides me a sense of accountability, and a feeling of independent management over my life (rather than life being in control of me).
I’ve struggled to find a realistic routine in my daily and weekly life, and this article clicked. I feel like I can move forward, in values- and intention-based ways.
Thanks so much for this toughtful, flexible approach the mindful living.