I pondered this article while I started laundry this morning. Then I jumped in the shower and puzzled over the closing paragraph for an article I am writing for my church's newsletter. I quizzed a son on spelling words while loading the crock pot and cleaning up the breakfast dishes. After I dropped off the kids and ran my Monday errands, I sat down, booked clients and confirmed presentations via email before heading out to a client appointment.
This article is not about how organized I am. It's about establishing Routines and getting things done.
Let's define a Routine, so you can identify and improve on yours. A Routine is a set list of 5 or 10 habits, tasks, etc. that you complete every day to maintain your life. Tasks for personal hygiene, household maintenance and nutrition may be included. Your morning and bedtime routines may contain tasks like "take a shower, brush your teeth or wash your face". Perhaps you (or your kids) make the bed in the morning, and put laundry clothes in the hamper. Basic maintenance - Done.
In addition, perhaps you like to meditate in the morning, or call your sister or exercise before dinner. Every person's routine looks different.
Call your list a "Routine", "Daily Habits", whatever you want. Class participants and clients have resisted the word "Routine" because it sounds too rigid or too boring, and they may be right. But Routines are a great way to lead busy, productive and less stressed lives.
Establishing Routines moves mundane tasks out of our active thinking brain, leaving more room for more interesting things. This morning, maintenance tasks were completed through my daily routine, and I was able to work on other things.
Because a Routine is a list, we can manipulate it, choose the order or time for the tasks, and tweak the list to make it work well. Please note, a Routine is not your to-do list. Routines hold the everyday tasks, and should quickly become automatic habits. Unless "go to the post office" or "update your website" are daily tasks, they should not be considered part of your Routine.
Decision-making is the single biggest time waster when it comes to getting organized. I have a client who agonizes over when to shower. Every day. "Getting up" and "getting moving" are not synonymous in her book. We're working on this, though, because puzzling over this simple and obvious task very morning is a terrible waste of her time.
This week, Create or Improve your Routines.
- Think carefully about what you do, what you want to do and how to make things better.
- Make your decisions about what to do and when, and then stick with what you decide.
- List what has to happen every day. Perhaps it is just looking back at your morning, or evening, or the hour after you get home from work, and listing the tasks you complete in that time. In no particular order, you might have
- Open mail
- Make bed
- Put away laundry
- Take out trash
- make dinner
- Take vitamins
- Feed the dog
- Now look at the list, and make some improvements if you would like.
- Group common tasks, save yourself some steps and cut out duplication. Using my random list above, you can group the dinner / trash / vitamins / feed dog tasks all together in the evening, if you'd like, to save yourself steps and help you focus. Perhaps make bed and put away laundry go together, too, as you tidy up in the morning.
- Determine if tasks are happening too often, or not enough. Maybe 'put away laundry' should occur a few times a week, like 'take out trash', instead of every day.
- Add things that are not yet happening. For example, I never miss my morning cup of coffee, so I try to take my vitamins as I brew my first cup in the morning. I'm not always thinking straight at that time of the morning, though, which is why I am still inconsistent about that. And while I am better than I used to be, until that happens automatically, I still have it on my daily to-do list.
To sum up:
Make good decisions once, and save time forever. Look at the maintenance tasks you complete every day, put them in a good and logical order, make them habits (give habits 3 weeks to take root), and move on to something more exciting!
Copyright (C) 2013 M. Colleen Klimczak