The thing is, after everything has changed and you have to reinvent your whole life as you knew it, you also need to reinvent routines. According to Merriam Webster a routine is a “a regular course or habitual / mechanical performance of an established procedure“. So, routines are basically what keeps us going.
The two most important routines of the day are the Morning routine and the Evening routine. But what’s funny about these routines, is that the Evening routine is actually the most important. This is what sets you up for the next day, on which you perform your Morning routine. And a good Morning routine makes the rest of your day a lot easier to go through.
So what about these routines? How does one implement them? And why should anyone go into the hassle of gaining them in the first place?
I could go into several scientific studies to answer the why, but I wont. You all know how the internet works, otherwise you would have never found this page. To copy and paste someone else’s words is not what I’m doing here. Besides, I already told you that a Morning routine makes the rest of your day a lot easier to go through. ;-)
The how however is something I find more interesting and have been playing with for a while now. To find myself a good routine (without burning myself out by trying!) I started writing down what I was already doing in the morning: Silencing the alarm, taking a shower, preparing and eating breakfast, brushing teeth, putting on clothes, doing my hair, grabbing my bag and going to work.
After writing the things I was already doing down, I started to look for time gaps. Little moments in which I wasn’t doing anything, because I was waiting for something. In my case, breakfast to be ready (I bake a pancake for breakfast).
The next thing was to look for little one-minute tasks I could do within that waiting time. Like: cleaning up the dry dishes from the day before. Which is convenient, because I’m in the kitchen anyway. After a week of trying to add this to my Morning routine I go back to it again. Is there still time for another one-minute task? Yes, there was! So I added two more: swiping the just emptied kitchen top and scooping my cats litter box, which not only makes me but also my cats more happy. Bonus! :-)
After two weeks of trying my expanded Morning routine I started to think about what stuff I would like to do for my Evening routine. To be clear about this one, what you put in an Evening routine can be done between having eaten dinner and going to sleep. So that’s quite an amount of time. The first thing was, to do my dishes every day. I have the habit of stacking it up and up and up and up untill the mountain of dishes is so big I get tired just from looking at it. By doing the dishes every day, the task stays small and thus more easy. So everyday after dinner, I need to do my dishes. I took two weeks for this to get into my routine, because doing the dishes has been a big hassle for me for almost all my life (and therefore has a huge emotional barrier). I wanted to have this down for real, before I would add more things to my Evening routine.
So after those two weeks, there I was with my Evening and Morning routine. Doing the dishes and Silencing the alarm, taking a shower, preparing breakfast while putting the clean dishes away, swiping the counter and scooping the litter box, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, putting on clothes, doing my hair, grabbing my bag and going to work. And it’s just four weeks after I started at all! It didn’t feel like I was doing much more but the effect of the things I did really showed off. I felt more efficient, more ready and the fact that I didn’t have a huge pile of dishes on my counter made me, well, feel like a real adult! ;-)
This made me feel there was a bit more I could do. There were still little unused gaps of time in the morning, and in the evening well, a couple of hours maybe? Not really actually, because I already read a lot in the evening. That is part of my Evening routine. Every day when I’m at home at nine, I turn of my phone and other devices and open a book. And before I go to sleep I brush my teeth and put away the clothes I wore. That way my bed is ready for me to sleep in instead of a pile of clothes. Another thing that’s already part of the routine. But was there something I could add, to make me take better care of myself (body / mind) or my home? Yes ofcourse! Especially now the days get hotter and hotter again, my face gets more oily. So I decided to add cleaning my face to the Evening routine. This was easily combined with brushing teeth and therefore makes it easy to implement. After just half a week I figured out that the washcloth I used for cleaning my face, could afterwards also be used for quickly wiping down the toilet seat. So six weeks after starting to think about my routines, things already started snowballing.
This is the moment where you need to hit pause. Because yes, ofcourse, you can do A LOT of things. And they could all be very useful, but are they really? Isn’t the evening supposed to make you ready for a good nights rest? Instead of doing hours of chores so your mind will be rushing around running a marathon when you lay your head on the pillow? Is that really how you want to end a day? And besides, implementing just one new tiny one-minute habit a week, is how you set up for succes on the long run, instead of burning yourself out in just a couple of weeks.
I decided that instead of implementing all the things I suddenly came up with, I would write them down to be able to take a good look at them. I work part-time, I have time in the afternoon to do my major cleaning jobs. Maybe the thing I need is to add a When I get home from work routine…
I’m now three months into building my new routines. And again took a break from adding new stuff to it. My Morning routine now include: Silencing the alarm, taking a shower, preparing breakfast and lunch while putting the clean dishes away, swiping the counter and scooping the litter box, eating breakfast, do 5mins of dumbbell excercises, brushing teeth, putting on clothes, doing my hair, grabbing my bag and going to work. My when I get home from work routine: vacuuming, 5 minute hotspot cleaning (you know, those places which seem to attract all your stuff around the house, like your desk or the couch or that countertop), 15mins of easy cleaning (chasing dust bunnies on the ceiling or cleaning a door or wiping the couch) and my Evening routine of doing dishes, scooping the litter box, reading, brushing teeth, cleaning my face and quickly wiping down the toilet seat. And afterwards, there is always more reading in bed. :-)
Do you have your routines set up? Pick yourself one one-minute task to do every morning and one one-minute task to do every evening. Preferably something to take care of yourself, either your body or your mind. Most people spent too little time on self-care anyway, so take those two minutes for you! And try them for two weeks and see how you feel and if you want to add another, maybe again for self-care or for home-care.