Everyone talks about time management and creating routines. Take a look at Pinterest. There are countless books and blog posts about how to structure your day and manage your time. Even I have written on how to use Google for block scheduling, and how to block out your time at work.
Most of the advice out there, while well-intentioned, is missing a larger piece of the puzzle. For example, my time blocking system will not necessarily work for everyone else. And if I try to copy the routines of a time management expert I will undoubtedly fail. Why?
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The Truth about why routines fail
Individualized routines are the key to managing our time and gaining a sense of control over our crazy lives. This is fairly new territory for me, so I am working on a system for creating individualized morning routines for my group members.
Here are some ideas to get us started with individualized routines.
Determine What Type of Routine You Need
Different types of situations require different types of routines. If you stay at home and you need to develop a housekeeping routine, that is different than the routine you would develop in order to be productive at work.
Personally, I need a routine for everything or I will forget something. Not sure if this is an ADHD thing or not, but if my routine is off I am out of sorts. My planners, both paper and online also play a major role in my routines.
Write down the steps
Whenever you are trying to create a new routine you need to break the activity down into individual steps. This helps you to see which steps will require the most time.
For example, if you are trying to create a laundry routine that you can use two days per week, you need to write down all the steps involved. Here is an example list:
Sort dirty clothes
Add detergent (believe it or not I have forgotten this step.)
Transfer to dryer/line dry
Wash sheets and towels
Empty dryer of colored clothing
Transfer sheets and towels to dryer
Fold and put away colored clothing
Empty dryer of sheets/towels
Fold and put away sheets and towels
You could continue with white clothes etc., but I think you get my point.
Determine Your Time Frame
Think about how often will you complete your laundry routine. Twice a week? Three times? In my house I do laundry at least 3 days per week. If you have a larger family you will probably have to do it more often.
Once you have your list of steps from above, try to guess how long each step takes. Just estimate, it doesn’t have to be perfect. You are trying to determine how long it will take you to complete your new routine.
For me to do 2 loads of laundry start to finish and put it away, it would probably take about 3 hours.
Determining how much time is required to complete your routine is essential. First, because we all have a different natural working pace. Second, because it is easy to get distracted along the way.
If you use a planner you will want to block off some time to complete your new routine. This step is vitally important for accountability. My planner is my lifeline so a new routine has to be blocked out.
Pull it all together
If you want your routine to stick it has to become a habit. Which means you have to commit.
Using the example above, you could decide to do laundry 3 days per week. Since you know you need about 3 hours each time, you could block off from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. in your planner. This allows you to schedule something else later in the day.
Start by developing a routine for one area of your life where you are struggling. Incorporate your new routine into your daily/weekly planning.
Since so many of us are struggling with morning routines and getting out the door, I have started working on an individualized morning routine. I promise you will hear more about this in the near future!
Remember, routines only work when they are individualized. Next time I’ll talk about why routines are so so so important for children. After that we will learn about how to form a new habit.
What areas of your life are in need of a routine overhaul?
Do you struggle with creating routines that work?