Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Routines To Establish In The New Year

When I asked y’all what posts you were interested in seeing during January, I was overwhelmed by how many of you were interested in a post about routines. After being away for the holidays and getting out of my own routines at the end of the year, I make it a point to re-establish and prioritize my routines at the beginning of the year. Whether that’s what my mornings look like or when I’m going to clean or workout having a general game plan makes it less of a chore to get back into routine and instead puts me more at peace with my daily schedule. Gretchen Rubin, the author of a book I love called The Happiness Project, claims that one of her secrets of adulthood is that “what you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” I’d definitely agree with that, but that could be me further feeding my love and need for routine. I’ve shared some of the routines I have (re)established this month below with the hope of inspiring you as you begin to make your own.

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 an excellent 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, I try to alternate vacuuming and swiffering each week, so it seems more manageable. Things like wiping down the kitchen counters, cleaning my bathroom, etc. happen weekly for me but breaking up these tasks so that you’re not spending an entire day doing a deep clean and too exhausted to enjoy the progress you’ve made it important. 

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 this 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? I remember after I stopped teaching having a friend who I taught with ask 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 and make my lunch to leave at 7:00, and the consistency of that better 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 the weekend, 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 or 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 or true40 after work most days 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 work 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, basically 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 just heat things up. 

One of the most surprising things about my job is that the day to day can be so different. Each morning when I get to the office, I make a to-do list of things I want to accomplish, and after reading the Skimm and the Morning Brew, I start tackling the ones that take the most focus first since I know other things are bound to come up throughout the day. The office is also quietest in the morning, and I’m most caffeinated (and therefore focused), making it a good time for me to get things done. I like to take my lunch at the same time most days and save my smallest tasks to be done (such as responding to social media comments) during the last 30 minutes of my day when my energy is fading. Even if you don’t know what your day to day at work may look like, chunking things like this to create a routine can be incredibly helpful.

I tend to do my best work when I am consistent with my routine, but lately, I have found myself craving opportunities to ditch the routine on occasion to make it, so I better appreciate it when I come back to it. Life can feel awfully boring if your schedule is constantly 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). Since so many of my friends are still in school, we don’t always do things on weeknights so instead sometimes my roommate, and I will plan to watch a new episode of a show together and attempt to make fun plans with our friends on the weekends to mix things up more. 

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

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