Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Creating your routine

We all know the importance of creating a routine and sticking to it helps us increase our productivity.  I myself have benefited from it immensely. So today I am going to help you create a routine.

 Before I teach you how to create a routine for yourself, I want to first highlight why having a routine is essential to me.

  1. It gives me a sense of security. When I have a set routine that I follow every day, I am not stressed with the fear of the unknown. Knowing that the day is not going to bring any (big) surprises helps me stay calm and focused on my tasks.
  2. I get more done. I know that I have a limited time allotted to the  task on hand and that helps me focus my complete attention on it without giving any scope for distractions. The end result is that I get a lot more done in a lot less time.
  3. My work is better. I don’t multi-task. I am not sending out email as I prepare breakfast while also getting my son’s homework done while I catch up with my husband. This keeps my mind sane and the people around me get my complete attention when they are with me. 
  4. I don’t put off tasks. I find it easier to just go with the flow and complete the task than put it off. It restricts my procrastination (though it does creep into some other parts of my day) and I get most of my important tasks done. It feels really good to be ticking off stuff from my list!
Now that you know why I love having a routine, let me tell you what mine looks like. I am a morning person and so my day begins very early. I love those couple of hours to myself, while the rest of the house is fast asleep!
04.15 am to 04.30 am : Wake up, brush & freshen up
04.30 am to 05.30 am : Exercise & Meditate
05.30 am to 06.00 am : Tea and journaling
06.00 am to 07.30 am : Work – Client work.
07.30 am to 08.30 am : Work - Blogs, emails etc
08.30 am to 09.00 am : Personal grooming
09.00 am to 10.15 am : Breakfast with the boys and quick chores around the house.
10.15 am to 10.30 am : Get desk ready.
10.30 am to 02.00 pm : Office Work (my day job)
02.00 pm to 03.00 pm : Lunch
02.00 pm to 06.00 pm : Office Work (my day job)
06.00 pm to 08.00 pm : Chores around house, Errands etc
08.00 pm to 08.30 pm : Prep table for Dinner, bath etc 
08.30 pm to 09.00 pm : Dinner
09.00 pm to 10.00 pm : Winding down, TV, catching up with my boys etc.
10.00 pm – Time for BED! (though on some days I’m crawling into bed by 9.30 itself)
When you glance at it, it does not look like too much. And believe me, it is not. I have maids who do the cleaning around the house and cook food. I get a good six  to seven hours of sleep which works really well for me. I do not set an alarm on Sundays and wake up whenever I feel like. Even then, I’m usually up by 6 to 7 am.
How did I come up with this routine? It has evolved over years and keeps on changing along with my phase of life. It varies on Saturdays and days that my son does not go to school because we like to spend more time together on those days. In the lockdown, when I did not have maids, it looked drastically different.
Now let me tell you how you can build your own routine!
Make a list. Actually, make 3.
  • First, the non-negotiables. These are things that have to be get done around the house every day.
  • Next, the add-ons, things that would be extras but you would like  them to get done in the day, preferably everyday or maybe weekly or even less frequently to keep your house running smoothly. Do not forget to write the frequency you would like to do them.
  • And last, but not the least, your dreams, things that will make you happy when they are done! I know this list is going to be a long one.
The first time I made mine, it was about seven pages long! Include tasks that are being done by someone else at the moment. This is your master list of tasks that need to be done to help your house run smoothly. I prefer making a separate list for work and home. I feel it becomes easier to handle it that way.
Allot time. How much time does it take to complete each task? Just take a pen and write against the list. If there is someone else doing the task, write their name and strike-through the task (you should be able to read it). At the end of this step, you should have a list with just the tasks that need to be done by you!
Delegate. Look at your list and mark the tasks that are for you that you can further delegate to someone else.
  • Maybe your son is old enough to sort the laundry – go right ahead and delegate it to him.
  • Maybe your husband will be able get your children ready for school while you take care of breakfast. Ask them.
  • There might be tasks on the list that might look like a total waste of your time. See if you can hire help for those. In India, we have household help in most of the houses. So most of the cleaning chores like sweeping, mopping and usually the dishes too are done by the maids. See if you can hire someone to do these tasks for you.
  • Now take your final task list and categorise it according to frequency.
  • Daily, Weekly, Bi-weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, Half-yearly and Yearly.
  • Once again, put the time required for each task against it so you know exactly how much time you need to allot to it.
  • Take each category and further sub-categorise it according to the areas of work. Eg. Household Chores, Cooking, Errands, Maintenance and Planning could be your sub-categories for your home. This sub-categorisation will help you club like tasks together so that you save time hopping between them.
Mark it in your Calendar. 
  • Download the blank calendar I have created for you.
  • Print it out and start marking your tasks in it. I use a pencil so that I can make changes necessary. If you do not want to use a calendar, just make a post-it for each task and move it around.
  • Start with the Yearly tasks. Divide them equally among all months. Make sure it is possible to do what you want to do in that month. For now, don't assign a date. Just assign a month.
  • Similarly, add the Half-yearly & the quarterly tasks. Make sure that they are all spaced out evenly so that you are not too burdened with them at a time. Remember the time it takes to complete them too. “Wash all curtains” and “Flip the Mattress” are not going to be equal, time-wise.
  • Now take the monthly and bi-weekly tasks and start marking them into the calendar (in the next month). Once again, make sure you space them out evenly. Just mark out the weeks you want to do them in.
  • Then take the weekly tasks.Take your calendar and open it to the current month, start writing the tasks onto the relevant day starting from the next week. Try to space them out evenly so that you spend roughly the same time doing weekly and bi-weekly tasks everyday.
  • After you are done, its now time to  deal with the daily tasks. Take a piece of paper and start writing the tasks from tomorrow that need to be done in the morning. Write the ‘evening’ tasks separately. Other tasks that might be needed to be done in the middle of the day go into a third list. Now you are ready to build your routine.
Build your routine. Take a good hard look at your list of daily tasks divided into morning, afternoon and evening lists.
  • Add up the times that you will need to spend in each slot (morning, afternoon & evening). Don’t forget the weekly tasks. You need time for them too.
  • Now check your current routine to see if you have that time available to do those tasks. If you have, cool! Mark it in!
  • But if you find that the time you have in hand is shorter than the time you need to finish them, think about how to accommodate them. Could you have a shower instead of soaking in the tub? Can you leave for work half an hour late? Or maybe you can move some of the tasks to the evening slot (provided you have time there).
  • Pencil in your tentative plan on the daily planner. I keep my daily planner sheet in a plastic sheet protector and any changes I made I can write using a dry erase marker! Sometimes, I write everything using a Frixion (heat reactive ink) pen, so that when I want to change something, I just use an iron or a hair dryer to get rid of all the writing on the paper!
Try out your routine. Try out the routine for at least a week.
  • Keep observing how things are working out for you. Do not make any changes in the routine right away. May be it is something that requires getting used to. Just give it time.
  • If you cannot keep up with any task for more than three out of seven days, you need to change it.
  • Anything less, deserves another chance. Keep making changes to your routine, till you no longer have to look at the sheet everyday.
  • Do keep glancing at it once in a while though, so that you do not forget any weekly or monthly or any less frequent tasks.
I usually build up my work routine first, so I know how much time I have to give to it. And then build my personal routine around it. I find that building a routine is something that you need to revisit every few months, especially if there has been a major change in your life - like the lockdown, an illness, change of schedule of the kids etc.
Having a routine helps me go on autopilot without missing the essential tasks that need to be done. It takes out the 'tension' from everyday.
I am sure that building your routine is going to help you in your productivity immensely. Do you have a routine that is working awesome for you? Do you have a tip for our readers that worked for you? 

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