In this week's Organized Home Challenge we're focused on making both a morning routine and an evening routine. When you do this challenge you'll learn how to set yourself up with some simple habits that can help you stay more organized and keep each day more under control.
I can understand why, on first glance, these things don't seem to belong. It's not as straightforward and obvious that a cleaning schedule, or meal planning, can keep you organized in the same way organizing your bathroom can.
But I stand by my belief that these routine and schedule challenges, along with the daily missions, are actually some of the core organizational systems you should have in place in your home to get, and then keep, your home and your life organized and running smoothly.
Why? Because organization is, at its core, about anticipating what needs to get done and doing things proactively, instead of reactively.
Are you new here? The Create A Morning & Evening Routine Challenge is part of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren't already a regular reader).
When we think things through, and plan ahead, we can get tasks done more quickly, because we can be efficient. But in addition, we can also do these tasks at pace that isn't frantic or that causes additional stress.
Planning ahead is the singlest biggest step you can take to feel like you've got things under control in your home, and your life.
So far, in the weekly organizational challenges, we've focused on specific subsets of tasks that are cycles, like meal planning and preparation, or laundry, and made our plans for them, so you could feel in control of those aspects of your life and home. But now, this week we will put all these plans, habits, and schedules together, because we know we don't just focus on one thing in life at a time, really. Instead, life requires us to keep many things going all at once.
And that's what the daily routines we'll deal with this week do for us. They allow us to keep multiple organizational balls up in the air at once, without all of them falling down on our heads.
Of course, these daily routines I want you to focus on this week are also a bit broader than just organizational tasks though, because you will focus on making sure you can fit everything you've got to get done into your busy life. This will include things you do to take care of your home, take care of yourself personally, tasks for taking care of your loved ones, and also focusing on work tasks as well.
In other words, this week is where the rubber meets the road, and you focus on all the things you want to get accomplished, across all areas of your life, and then make a (hopefully realistic) plan for doing that.
My hope for you, as you work on this challenge, is to really think through what your goals and priorities are, and have them reflected in your daily tasks. That's because I firmly believe, "We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day."
The first step in this challenge is to create a morning routine. Why? Because we know life gets busy fast, so I try to live by the motto, "first things first," and so should you.
When life gets busy if you've done "first things first," then you've already done the most important things for the day, and if you get sidetracked later it is OK, because at least you've done the priorities.
Your morning routine is all about "first things first," even if at a glance some of the items in your morning routine, like starting a load of laundry, or getting in a few minutes of exercise, seem mundane and routine. While in one sense those things are pretty mundane, you'd be surprised how these routine things really are the foundational blocks of a happy, healthy, organized life.
There are many reasons having a morning routine is actually beneficial to you, instead of being a burden or something that holds you back. Here are some of the biggest reasons:
To help you think through your morning routine, I suggest you fill out this printable morning routine chart I've created for you to use.
The accompanying article with the chart provides some additional thoughts and ideas of the types of things you can include in your morning routine, plus a trick for how to more easily, and with less stress, get yourself and your family out the door each morning for school and work, by working backward when planning your mornings.
Step 2 of this challenge is to create an evening routine. While I believe that first things should come first, I also believe that preparation the night before, for the next day, is vital to making life easier on yourself.
It can be helpful, sometimes, to think through both your morning and evening routines at the same time, especially if you find what you plan to do in the morning has gotten to be an overwhelmingly long list.
In this instance, often it makes sense to change some of those morning to do items into tasks to do the night before, instead. That could be simple things like making lunches the night before, instead of the morning of, or setting out breakfast dishes for the next morning.
Your evening routine should help you finish tasks that you began during the day, get you prepared for the day ahead, and finally, after you've done any needed tasks, the last few items on your evening routine should help you relax and unwind for the night.
I've created a free printable evening routine chart that you can fill out once you've made your plan. In addition, the linked article also provides suggestions and ideas for the types of activities you can do in the evenings to set yourself up for a great tomorrow.
While your morning and evening routines focus on items you need to do consistently, typically daily, to keep your life and your home running smoothly, we all know there are tasks that pop up that aren't regular or consistent.
That's where your daily to do list comes in.
Two items on your daily to do list might be, "morning routine," and "evening routine." Sure, that encompasses quite a few tasks, but once you get in the habit of doing thse routines consistently, all those tasks can be grouped together in your mind.
Then, you can also make sure you properly prioritize and focus on non-regular or non-recurring tasks by consulting your to do list. To help you get in the habit of making a daily to do list, and sticking to it, I've provided a free printable to do list form you can use. The accompanying article also has tips for making and sticking to a realistic list, since if you add too much to your list each day it is actually counter-productive to actually getting things done.
I've discussed throughout this article that I hope that when you think about your daily routines that you're prioritizing the things that are most important for you. Often though, setting up these daily routines are eye opening because, as you do the steps of this challenge, you may realize you're not currently focused on what you really want your priorities to be.
You may not currently be doing certain tasks at all that you decide you want to do daily. Changing your habits and routines to incorporate these new tasks requires developing new habits, and the best way to do that is to track what you want to do to keep yourself accountable.
So, the fourth step in this challenge is to track the tasks you've listed in your morning and evening routines, especially the ones that are not currently habits for you, so you can develop these tasks as daily habits, and then maintain them.
This is how you make sure instead of just writing down what you plan to do, that you're actually doing it.
Here's an example. If you decide that each day, as part of your morning routine, you want to meditate for 20 minutes, and you currently don't do that, you should focus on building that one habit. While normally your to do list would include as an entry, "morning routine," now it might include 1) morning routine, and 1a) 20 minutes of meditation (morning routine). This is your extra reminder to make sure that new task that you've decided is important for your emotional health gets incorporated into your normal morning routine. You should daily write out this task, on your day's to do list, despite it being part of your morning routine, until it actually does become a habit and is a part of your morning routine that you remember to do without having to look at a list. Using your daily to do list you can track how well you're doing this habit by seeing if daily you're actually checking it off the list.
You can track new tasks, to help make them parts of your rourtines and habits, in whatever way works for you. Many people find writing these tasks down on a to do list, daily, which was what was mentioned in the example above, works well for them. Similarly, you could schedule this new task in your calendar daily, or report into an accountability partner.
If you want to incorporate many new tasks into your daily routine, I suggest going slowly and giving yourself grace. It is best to add only one new task at a time, and make it a habit before you add another, so you don't get overwhelmed. Too much change all at once makes it nearly impossible to succeed, so slow and steady wins the race!
I would love to know how this week's Create A Morning & Evening Routine Challenge is going. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've designed your daily routines in the comments.
I also love before and after pictures of your scheduling and habit tracking systems, and would love to see some of yours. Submit your pictures (up to four per submission) and blog posts and get featured in the Creative Storage Solutions Hall of Fame. You've worked hard to get organized, so now here's your chance to show off!
We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from the Create A Morning & Evening Routine Challenge this week.
However, I know some of you love to know what's coming next, so I'll tell you. After this week we're switching gears, since this challenge concludes the large section of the program dealing with scheduling and routine building. Next week we'll again focus on home organization, and begin focusing on storage areas in our home starting with the Basement Organization Challenge.
I would love to hear from you, sharing your thoughts, questions, or ideas about this topic, so leave me a comment below. I try to always respond back!