Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Routines To Establish During The Back To School Season

Today marks the first day back to school for many students in my area. And although I don’t have to deal with the traffic since I get to work before the school day begins, it still has been noticeable to me that school is back in session. Yesterday when I was at the gym, it seemed like suddenly more people were motivated to come in after work for a workout. I’m not sure if that is coincidence or this time of the year inspiring people to reevaluate what they are doing to find a routine that is better suited for them. 

While I have been working all summer, aside from a few trips, even I feel motivated to get organized and make sure that the routines I’ve established are working in my favor to make life easier. Because after all, that is the purpose, right? Whether you’re heading into a new school year or are like me and thrive on routines, I thought it could be helpful to share some of the habits I’ve found worth establishing (and reevaluating) to make a typically busy season a little easier on myself. 

The first time my mom came to visit me in Birmingham was when I realized that cleaning an entire house takes a LONG time. My mom can be a bit of a neat freak and hadn’t seen my house since we shoved all of the boxes I packed into the living room so naturally, I wanted to make a good first impression. I spent hours dusting, swiffering, vacuuming, and wiping down every visible surface before she arrived. Her four-hour drive was finished before I had finished cleaning the house (and it wasn’t even dirty, to begin with). That’s when I realized that cleaning needs to be done in spurts over time and not all at once. Since that visit last October, I try to alternate vacuuming and swiffering each week, so it seems more manageable. Things like wiping down the kitchen counters, cleaning my bathroom counter, etc. happen weekly for me but breaking up these larger tasks so that you’re not spending an entire day doing a deep clean has been helpful. 

Laundry is another thing I attempt to have a routine for. I tend to like to do my clothing laundry on Friday afternoons so that I can wash towels or sheets on Saturday or Sunday. Having a habit of this makes it so that I don’t really have to think back about when the last time I did laundry was, and it ensures that ’I’m starting my week fresh. 

Other smaller cleaning routines worth establishing include unpacking your bags and car each day so that those spaces feel orderly. I also recommend having a specific place for everything since I tend to make more of a mess when I don’t have somewhere to go with something. For example, I am never in a frantic rush to find my keys when I’m running late because I have a dish for them on my desk where they always go. While cleaning isn’t a fun routine to establish, breaking it up and doing little things each day or week will make it feel less like a chore and more like an easy task to check off your to-do list. 

What would a post about routines be if I didn’t include something about having a morning and nighttime routine? The other day a friend who I taught with asked me what it was like to be able to sleep in before work and not wake up at the crack of dawn. I had to laugh for a minute because now that I have the option to sleep a little bit later due to when work starts I choose not to (granted the difference is all of 30 minutes between the time school would begin, and the time my workday begins). I have learned that I like getting up earlier so that I can start my day without feeling rushed. One of my guilty pleasures is getting back in bed after doing my hair and makeup to drink my coffee, read, and eat oatmeal. I could definitely sleep in later instead of doing this, but I’ve found that by giving myself time in the morning, I can better create a routine I love. I’ve learned exactly what time I should get back out of bed to get dressed and make my bed to make my lunch and still leave at 6:45. The consistency of this established way of doing things helps me to start my day on the right foot.  

As a girl who loves her planner a little too much at times, one thing I love to do on Monday mornings is write down what workouts I want to do during the week. This helps me to break up what I am doing when I go to the gym while knowing when I can expect to do them during the week (although if something fun comes up on a weeknight, you can bet that I’ll probably skip the gym and do that instead). If you’re someone who doesn’t go to a gym and goes to a studio/takes classes, getting in the habit of scheduling all of your workouts for the week at once and writing them down makes them seem like more of a priority. For me personally, I go to the gym after work since I know that if I go home first, I won’t want to leave my house. 

Since I work out at night, I also shower at night, which is why I consider my nighttime routine to start as soon as I get home from the gym. Typically, I’ll shower before I do anything else (I only wash my hair every other night but at least wash my body and rinse off nightly). Once I’m comfy in my pajamas, I’ll unpack my gym bag and re-pack it for the next day and then do the same with my lunch bag. Then I typically make my dinner (read below to see more of what that entails) and sit on the couch watching a show and/or working on my laptop before heading to my room to read a bit later. I try to make it my goal to have my phone on my nightstand around 10:00 (if you’re a friend and text me after that on a weeknight you probably won’t get a response till 6:00 the next morning) and have my lights out at 10:15. Sleep used to be my last priority, and now it falls high on the list! 

Grocery Shopping/Cooking 
One of the hardest parts about graduating college was no longer having a meal plan with access to a variety of different foods for “free” whenever I was hungry (yes I know that meal plans are paid for, but the food felt free since you had a certain number of swipes). I found that when I would grocery shop and cook on the same day, it would take the fun out of trying new recipes and learning to feed myself. I remember calling my mom after making my own meals for a couple of months and apologizing that I ever complained about having something for dinner that we had had the previous week. Now I cook two recipes and rotate them for lunches/dinner for an entire week surviving off of leftovers. 

I try to do my grocery shopping on Friday or Saturday so that on Sunday it doesn’t feel like as much of a chore to cook for the week. What I’ve found that works best for me is making two very different recipes and eating them all week. This gives me enough variety to not get too bored with eating the same thing over and over again but also makes it so that I don’t have to cook on weeknights when I get home and instead heat things up. 

Outside Responsibilities
As great as independence is, it comes with plenty of responsibilities. Whether you make a routine for when you pay your bills or work on a side hobby (hello, Prep In Your Step) having a dedicated time to do things tends to result in being more successful and getting things done. If you’re in school, this means figuring out when you’ll be most productive getting your work done, studying, and balancing extracurriculars. Write down some of the things that need to occur weekly or monthly and figure out a time to work them into your schedule so that they don’t get pushed to the back burner! 

I tend to do my best work when I am consistent with my routine but sometimes find myself craving opportunities to ditch the routine on occasion which in turn allows me to appreciate it better when I do come back to it. Life can feel monotonous if your schedule is continuously the same where all you do is go to work, go to the gym, come home, and sleep. While mine often looks this way even adding in the smallest change like grabbing dinner or drinks with friends on a weeknight can help to make it so that a routine feels more like a luxury than a bore (Starbucks Fridays are one of my favorite ways to mix up my morning routine).

I’d love to hear what routines y ’ all find to be important to establish in your everyday life! 

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