• Carrie Higgins

Productive and Organized Part 1: Basic Daily Routines

Updated: Apr 25, 2020

Just imagine; you’ve been dreaming for years that you could stay at home to tackle that endless list of projects – finally organize that garage or install a new closet system or get that dining room table cleared off once and for all! And now it’s happening (or not)… At the time of writing this blog post, most every US citizen has found themselves staying at home and social isolating due to the rapidly spreading Covid-19 virus. I’m not going to sugar coat this – this pandemic has tossed our lives upside down and I frequently find myself in different phases of grief over the loss of life, the uncertainty of our future, and because I know that life as we once knew it, will probably never be the same… much like the changes we experienced after 9/11. And, if you are like me, you’ve probably spent a great deal of time in your pj’s, watching movies, cuddling with your kids and just celebrating getting through the day in one piece. I see you and I’m right there with you… so, here is your chance to get ALL the things done (or not). You are “safe” at home... now what? Life didn’t just stop for you, did it? In fact, you have probably found yourself at home, working your job remotely (if you are lucky) amidst that pile of stuff on your dining room table. Or, perhaps that “safer at home” order never applied to you because you are an essential worker… so life is “business as usual.”

Frustrating, isn’t it? What if I told you there is a way to make this reality work for you. That you might not have it all, BUT you can get your life in order while staying on top of responsibilities and finding pockets of time to tackle your project to-do list. If you’ve found me, it’s because you’ve been looking for ways to increase your productivity and improve your #timemanagement – from one busy person to another, I am so glad you found me and hope these tips and tricks help you achieve your goals and find more time to enjoy what makes you happy!

Before our life was turned upside down by this pandemic, we had obligations and destinations that helped frame our day and give us purpose. Now that most of us are “safe” at home (not “stuck”), we no longer have these obligations to define our daily activities. Or, if you are reading this after the pandemic, perhaps you were like me 7 years ago, blindly going through your day feeling exhausted and overwhelmed without realizing there is a natural flow created by our routines. Either way, you are in the right place. And to be perfectly honest, this blog post is just as much for my benefit as it is yours – let’s face it, my life has been disrupted and turned upside down and I need a restart, too! So, let’s talk about routines and how being a little more intentional and leveraging these daily habits can lighten our load, decrease our busy and bring more productivity to our day.

I have divided this series into an intro and 4 parts to help you make small, bite sized changes in how you operate. These blog posts are meant to be layers of productivity, an a-la-carte menu if you will, that can be added to your schedule (or not) and tailored to your needs. Some tips will be helpful and some might not be for you. Please hear me when I say I don’t want to overwhelm you! So, this week, let’s just focus on our basic #dailyroutines.

Adding structure to your day is familiar and helps set limits and boundaries and ultimately gives you focus.

Now hang with me a second… because feelings of disorganization (or the reality of a pandemic) can cause stress and overwhelm, I am going to ask you to put a little structure back into your day. I promise this will do two things for you; 1. Give you comfort - because structure is familiar and helps set limits and boundaries and ultimately gives you focus and 2. It will help you accomplish needed tasks in a shorter amount of time, freeing you up to spend more time leisurely reading, homeschooling, playing with the kids, and even working from home.

But how do we create routines? Go ahead and print off my Daily Routine Printable attached below and let’s break it down together – think about what your daily needs might be. What time are your meals? What time would you like everyone in your house to be dressed and ready to start his or her day? What about bedtime? Do you need to work from home? As you identify these activities, go ahead and fill them in at the time in which they are usually done. Please keep in mind, this should be EASY! Don’t make it hard. We are not getting specific with tasks, we are just identifying our basic routines. Just fill in the things you do on a typical day. Not sure where to start? Fill in your meals, snacks, sleep, work hours, etc… For our current situation, we are all social isolating at home and since my kids are not attending school and I am not working with clients outside the home, I will be using lunch and naptime as my compass when deciding a rough time schedule/structure. If you are reading this and things are back to normal, work and school may be a good jumping off point for you. But, for me, today, I am going to use lunch as my starting point… please follow along with my example and fill in your worksheet as we go.

Don't make it hard. Just fill in the things you do on a typical day... start with meals, snacks, work, sleep, etc...

Lunch. Kids are going to want to eat at noon, and the 2 year old will be ready for a nap at 1 pm. Because we will be eating at noon, I expect the kids to have eaten breakfast and gotten dressed by 9 am, and a snack around 10:30. In the evening, I’d like the kid’s to be in bed and lights out at 8 pm, so I’ve got to make sure I start cooking dinner at 5 pm, so we can eat at 6 pm and start bedtime routines by 7. Sounds confusing, doesn't it? Maybe seeing it will help. This is what my rough schedule looks like (keep in mind; yours may look a little different):

Pretty basic and you will notice that there are some pretty significant time gaps in there between meals and snacks and in the morning and at night. Spoiler alert, what I am doing (and you should be, too) is identifying the free spaces (or gaps) in our schedule that can be used for various activities. This is especially helpful for your kids or those of us who need more structure because it gives our day a degree of predictability – and for you free spirits out there, I didn’t forget about you! Please stick with me through these series of blog posts. While there is predictability and rhythm to our day, you absolutely have freedom and flexibility to change it up, but that will be touched on in part 3… for now though, let’s take another look at my “rough” daily routine. Do you notice the two time gaps in the morning and in the afternoon? Those gaps are what I call “activity blocks” because it’s a block of time to do something other than cooking, eating, sleeping or doing activities for my morning and night routines (will touch more on those later in part 2). Let’s see my rough schedule with those activity blocks and morning and night routines included:

Can you see the basic structure to my day? How does your sheet look? Together, we have identified a very basic daily routine. We have identified blocks of time for activity and creativity, meals and sleep. How you decide to spend that activity block is up to you (maybe home school, maybe a nature walk, maybe a movie, maybe have fun and bake some cookies, or perhaps you might combine two activity blocks and clean your house or tackle that organization project, aha! You see where we are going and you get the idea). You are welcome to stop here and try out your schedule for a week or two or you can move on to Part 2 where we get specific about our morning and night routines. If we were cooking, these would be considered the “special sauce” to our pasta… in other words, no matter what our daily schedule looks like, these two basic routines will never change and you will wonder how you ever managed your life and home without them, I promise!

Daily Routine Printable

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