Just like I have written about physical fads, I also have done many mental health fads too. Honestly, mental wellness and self-care are the items that REALLY drive my business and keep me going. Recently, I posted a story on Instagram about how people need to put things into their routines that light them up inside in order to stick with it for the long haul. Let’s dive into this topic more here.
A big question that busy, stressed out people want to solve is the elusive “perfect routine.” You are either too busy at work and have no personal life, have no time for yourself because you prioritize family and friends over yourself, or you spend too much time on the couch and not enough time working on your book. Whatever camp you fall into (and yes, these are pretty big buckets I know), your ultimate question comes down to sticking with a routine. I am going to ask a couple of questions to kick-start this blog.
- Do you find that you are absolutely DRAINED at the end of every day?
- Do you often feel resentful of others during your day, as if they “stole” your time away from you?
- Do you have too many commitments or feel like you are stretched too thin?
- Do you simply feel tired all of the time and kind of hate getting out of bed?
If any of these questions resonated with you, you might want to pull out your journal for this one or take some notes in your phone, it is going to be a bumpy ride (Harry Potter reference – no it will not be a bumpy ride; we are just going to get real with ourselves now!). I would read this blog in parts or set aside a chunk of time to do this (possibly a half hour to an hour depending on how fast you write).
A journal such as this one by Elena Brower could help you work through this process
THE ROUTINE OVERHAUL
Step 1: Removing Resistances From Your Life
Everything on this planet holds energy and can either help us or hurt us. SERIOUSLY, I MEAN THAT. Therefore, if you walk past the same hole in your wall every day, and it pisses you off, you are investing energy into that hole in the wall. FIX THE FREAKIN’ HOLE! For example, in my own life, I would literally have to kick aside these shoe racks on the floor every day to see myself in the mirror to get dressed. They were on the floor because our HVAC was being redone, but they could have been moved to the other side of the room and out of my way. For 2 months, I would kick them aside and get pissed. THEN, I started noticing I stopped getting dressed nice and looking in the mirror. Go figure… Suddenly that little inconvenience changed the course of my routine ever so slowly and for the worst. I started not caring about how I looked, which further made me feel bad. This is just one small example; imagine this amplified by even bigger resistances and examples? That is why I IMPLORE YOU to take stock of your day for the next couple of days. Are there any little resistances that are coming up in your life? Really pay attention to those. Then, remove them ASAP. Look for times when you actively avoid something because of something else. Look for times where you are frustrated by something. Ask yourself: What can be fixed now? What is in my control to remove or throw out or change to make my life just a little bit easier? Maybe it is buying a new desk chair because you have back pain all the time. Maybe you have no space in your fridge; so, it is time to consider whether your family needs a new appliance. Maybe you HATE having cluttered bookshelves because you HATE dusting them – it might be time to donate books or hire a cleaning person. If money is the issue, focus on things that are super small and do not require any money to fix (i.e, maybe you hate the placement of your coffee pot because you have to reach to get it – MOVE THE COFFEE POT!) Get. Serious. About. This. Step. *It helps.*
Step 2: What Makes You Feel Good?
Now that you got rid of the crap, it is time to reflect on what makes you feel really good. Pay attention to all the things in your day that make you go – WOW YES! This step is important because now you can start to take stock of the stuff that actually makes you feel good. Write these good feels down. Hint: You will want to check-in with how often you do these things. Some additional questions to help:
- Are you a morning or a night person?
- When are you the MOST productive?
- When do you have slumps in your day? (SIGN OF SOMETHING NOT MAKING YOU FEEL GOOD)
- What are your favorite things to do?
Once you answer these questions, move on to the next big step…
Step 3: Who Do You Want to be in Any Given Single Day?
Let’s now get real with ourselves. You now know what pisses you off and what you love. Now, you get to decide who you want to be! I know this feels existential – but ask yourself what matters. Think about that a bit. I know this feels like a mundane step; however, I promise you that connecting what you love with who you want to be makes routines really stick. Think about this question like this – If I were to break up my life into a series of 12-16 hours of awake time each day, during that awake time, who is the person I truly want to be? How do I want to feel? Focus on just one chunk of time/that one day.
Step 4: Divide Up Your Day into Chunks
You have just done a lot of work and you now are in a space of self reflection. Now, it is time to actually write down the “chunks” of your day, using markers like: Wake-Up, Bed-time, Morning Time, Work Time, Child Time, etc. Start super simple and use a “typical” day. Reduce it down into the BIG buckets, and we will worry about the smaller stuff later. Remember – if you cannot super simplify your day, you are either not paying attention to it OR you are doing too much. My divided up day looks like this: Wake-Up: 5:30 AM Morning Time: 5:30 AM – 7:30 AM Work Time: 8:00AM-5:30PM Evening Time: 5:30PM-8:30PM Bed Time: 9:00 PM.
Step 5: Get Real About Your Time and Reflect on the Amount of Time Awake
Reflect on your time now. It turns out, upon reflection, that I have approximately 15.5 hours awake. Let’s round that to 16 for ease of math. So, out of 16 hours, am I not able to make just 1 hour about me? That is legitimately 1/16 of my time or 6.25% of my time. Am I not worth 6% of my time? I actually got pissed when I read this. I am freaking worth at least 10% of my time. This means at least 2 hours devoted to just me in that 16 hours! That is where the birth of my two hour morning ritual came into play. Some reminders:
- You cannot fuel from an empty cup.
- You DESERVE more than 1/16 of your time. Try for just an hour that is FOR YOU.
- Get creative.
Step 6: When Will Be YOUR Time?
Make a commitment now. When is going to be your time? After all this stuff you just did – will you wake up a half hour earlier to carve out some time in the morning? Will you lock yourself away at night? Will you aim for mid-day? Pick a part of the day or two separate parts of the day and commit to it. Start small. Let’s piece all the parts together right now to show you where I am at:
- Through resistances, I figured out I hate doing things at night. I HATE IT. I also hate forcing myself to workout first thing in the morning but I like to workout.
- Through what I love, I discovered that I love to drink coffee in the morning and journal. I love to get cozy and meditate after my coffee. I love to do all my energetic writing and reading in the morning, but I can do it after I workout in between work meetings. So, I devote 1 hour to my morning ritual, and 1 hour to working out after I am awake for a bit; then, I plan to do any writing or reading during breaks from work because it fills my cup that way.
- I chose the morning for ME TIME because I hate night time for anything productive. Also, since Will loves night time, he brightens up my night time and I spend it with him (family time).
See what I did there? You get to decide what feels good for you!
Step 7: Add in One New Item TODAY
Now that you have all this knowledge; check out your steps 2 and 3. What from there can you plug in and do every day? Will it be a long walk every day with music? Will it be journaling? Will it be knitting? YOU GET TO PICK! MAKE IT YOU! Start small. Dedicate at least a half hour to you, starting today, and pick what that half hour will be.
Step 8: Get Creative and Reassess
This step will likely happen after you have already done all of this work. Now that you have established your time, and now that you have fit yourself in, it is time to check back in a week after you settle into it to see how you feel. Has anything changed? If you notice that you are still struggling for time, how can you get creative with your time? Could you listen to your books versus read them, and listen to them while you feed your kids or cook? Could you listen to a podcast versus a book for time? Could you enlist support in an area like your family or friends to assist?
I hope this blog really inspires you to get creative with your time and put some YOU into your routine. This is the stuff I coach on; so, if you ever run into hiccups or issues with all of this, send me an email, DM on Instagram, or a comment below. I would happily chat with you further about all of this.
Potential Critic #1: I have children. Your advice is crap.
That is not a question. However, valid point. Children take up a lot of your time. I have a lot of friends who are parents! I know that you can feel the pull of your children and would answer the question about with “NO I DO NOT HAVE EVEN AN HOUR ALONE.” I get it. Reflect again on how you want your kids to be in the future. Do you want them to know that they have no time for themselves? Do you want them to learn that self-care is crap? No! You want them to cherish their me time too down the line. Another trick that a fellow mother taught me was to bring your children into your zone and have them do things you love (for your own benefit!). For example, my one friend has her baby on every group zoom call she does for her self-development; another of my friends runs with her baby in the carriage. Another of my friends listens to a soothing audiobook while she breastfeeds. I am no expert here nor do I proclaim to be (listen, I just picked up my friend’s baby the other day and the baby turned 1…). Check out some fancy kick-ass moms and dads on Instagram for more tips!
Potential Critic #2: What is the “Perfect Routine” Kat? Just give me the answers!
Hint: There is no objectively perfect routine; there is just a routine that is perfect FOR YOU specifically. I cannot tell you what will work for you. I can tell you that I spent along time sorting mine out, and the above steps were something I wish I had in 2018. Take some time to do these steps and also take some time to be real with yourself about it. Are you expecting someone to do it for you? It won’t work that way!