When I became a teacher, I learned how important it is for students to have routines. Instead of trailblazing the challenges of every new day, routines carve a course that guide the flow of each day’s events. Routines provide clear expectations, easier transitions, and small rituals to look forward to.
And they’re certainly not just for students! I find that I rely on routines–and enjoy them–more and more as an adult. I don’t structure my entire day, but a few checkpoints scattered through my schedule help to keep me productive and even-keeled.
Morning and evening routines are the most important for me. They’re also the easiest kinds of routine to maintain, once you’ve made them a habit. Even if you’re traveling or diverging from your normal daily schedule, it’s easy to bookend each day with the same set of actions.
If you want to be an early riser, going through familiar motions first thing in the morning will trigger your body that it’s “wake up” time. Similarly, as you go through the same actions every evening, you train your body to associate them with bedtime. Hopefully, by the time you’re done with your evening routine and turn out the lights, sleep will come quickly!
Having routines in place also encourages you to make the most of your time. Instead of frittering away the pre-bedtime hours with mindless x, y, or z, you can move into a meaningful evening routine that will prepare you for the day ahead and allow you time to do something restful that you truly enjoy. Having a morning routine in place encourages you to carpe diem, rather than sleep in later than you meant to.
Crafting Your Own Routines
Think about what you want your morning and evening routines to include. And then, write them down. I find that getting my goals on paper (or Evernote!) makes them more official. Don’t create a very long list, or it’ll feel like a massive block of time and you’ll be tempted to skip it more often than not. Instead, aim for 4-6 things to focus on.
Let each item on your list be something that is either
A.) A special treat to look forward to at that time of day
B.) Something that will prepare you to be more productive later
As an example, here are the morning and evening routines that I’m working on implementing:
My Evening Routine
1. Tidy the house
Having a clean home makes me feel peaceful. A 10-minute tidy helps to ensure that the clutter doesn’t pile up, and that our home looks pleasant when we start the day, rather than depressing and messy.
2. Play with Sophie cat, if she’s interested
Lately our cat transforms into “wild puss” as soon as we turn out the lights. I think that playing with her before bed may help to get some of that extra energy out. And if I’ve been too busy during the day to play with her, I can make sure she at least has a few minutes to burn calories before bed.
3. Lay out clothes for tomorrow
My brain works better at selecting clothes at night, rather than in the early morning when I’m foggy. Simplifying my wardrobe makes this task fun and easy. I only wear what I actually like now, so the next day’s outfit is something to look forward to. And having my clothes ready will help me to get ready in the morning.
4. Prepare coffee for the morning
This also helps to move my morning forward. I fill the kettle, grind the coffee beans, and make sure my French press is rinsed out and ready.
5. Make herbal tea
An herbal tea can help to induce sleep naturally, and it’s a pleasant ritual to look forward to.
6. Read in bed (while sipping the herbal tea!)
I love reading, but sometimes I just don’t do it. I’m trying to set aside 20-30 minutes to read in bed so that books don’t sit unfinished on the shelf, waiting for the next vacation or trip to the beach.
My Morning Routine
1. Get up as soon as the alarm goes off
It’s too dangerous not to.
2. Make coffee
I enjoy coffee made in my stainless steel French press, and looking forward to that morning cup gives me an impetus to get out of bed.
3. Get dressed and pretty
Even though I work at home, I want to look nice! I dress for the job I want.
4. Have breakfast
You don’t need to convince me that breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Not only do I love all manner of breakfast foods, but I get just plain grumpy if my blood sugar is off without breakfast. (For real food breakfast inspiration, check out this book.) It helps to have some breakfast freezer meals on hand, although we don’t often–they go fast!
5. Have a mini devotions
One Bible chapter and a short prayer over the day helps to set the tone for my morning.
Both of these courses are self-paced. You can watch the videos and fill out the workbook on your own time…and each lesson only takes a few minutes! These courses are definitely worth looking in to if you want to craft more meaningful routines in your day.