Routines are interesting things – whether we plan them consciously or not, we each have a rhythm we fall into. They can be the defining factor in how our days, weeks and, ultimately, our lives turn out, which may sound like a big promise, but the little actions we do everyday really do add up. Becoming conscious of these routines can help us harness more time and space in our lives for the things we truly want. What does your perfect day look like? That’s what your routine should be shaped around. Not being perfect, but concentrating on the things you love. But, even when we’ve created routines we love, it can be hard to wake up and stick to them – so here’s my 10 top tips for how to keep a routine.
“The best kind of happiness is a habit you’re passionate about.”
– Shannon L. Alder
You’re already capable
If you find keeping to a routine a little overwhelming, it can be helpful to remember that you’ve always had routines – now you’re just designing them consciously.
Take a look at how you spend your days right now. You probably do a lot of the same things everyday, right? You wake, you shower, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, head to work – that’s a routine! Write down your current routine and slowly begin to add a habit or two here and there.
It can be appealing to want to wake up a changed person tomorrow, but true change will always take a while and that pressure is the main source of overwhelm. You needn’t set your old routine alight and wake up a new person tomorrow. Take little steps to mould your current routine into a new one.
Set yourself up for success
You’re not always going to be on your A-Game and that’s completely okay! In fact, it’s good – knowing you can still achieve and function even when you’re not feeling particularly motivated or inspired will give you self-confidence made of solid stone.
If your routine involves getting up at 6:30am, going to bed at midnight every night is going to make getting up so much harder. So try shifting your bedtime a little earlier to help give you the best chance to stick to your routine in the morning.
Make sure your routines are suited to you
In contrast, make sure that your routines are built around you. You needn’t be a 5am-riser if it doesn’t suit you. Of course, you can become whoever you decide to be. But if you find you’re much more awake and alert in the evenings, take advantage of that.You don’t have to be a morning person – success comes from making the most of what you have and who you are.
Try to do things at the same time everyday
Consistency is key. The more frequently we do something, the more our minds accept it as a part of who we are and a part of our routine. This makes it that much simpler everyday. Starting up a workout routine will take a lot of effort, but eventually, you’ll find yourself waking up ready to rise and workout without even thinking.
This can also do wonders for your self-confidence. By proving to yourself that you can do something consistently, you’re training your discipline muscle and proving to yourself that you truly can do whatever you set your mind to (note: you always have been able to).
Follow for three weeks, then reevaluate
This is essential, but to be handled with care: once you’ve mapped out your routine, follow it for three weeks. This, at least for me, is a good amount of time to try it on for size, to get into the habit and to develop an opinion on what I like and dislike.
Then, I switch it up.
Sometimes the changes are minor, sometimes it’s a complete shake-up.
The danger here is throwing in the towel after three weeks claiming it’s ‘not for you’ when really it’s just uncomfortable. So this is where it’s really important to be honest with yourself.
“Am I giving this up for the right reasons?”
“Could I push myself to keep going?”
“Don’t I truly desire to keep a routine?”
You’re always going to be much more capable than you think you are.
Make sure to keep track of your progress. This can be in any form – some really benefit from progress trackers, others will benefit more from just noting down lessons and milestones. Learning to journal, or frequently tracking how you feel can be really helpful here. I love flipping back a few weeks and seeing the subtle differences in how adding new habits or routines has made a serious difference to how I feel and act.
If you skip two or more days, consider making it easier to achieve
If you’re really trying to stick to your routine, but find yourself falling off for two or more days in a row, consider making it a little simpler. Take baby steps with your routines, get up five minutes earlier everyday, rather than setting your alarm back a whole hour.
Pushing yourself too hard is the fastest route to giving up, so like we said before:
Listen to yourself.
You are more than capable, but no one learned to swim by drowning – take it one step at a time, and if that step was too big, then that’s okay. You need only make it smaller.
Remember: There are no rules here.
When you do slip up, because you more than likely will, forgive yourself. It’s completely normal to trip when learning to walk, and it’s good to, or else you’d never learn. Forgiveness is an incredible skill to learn, allowing you to become far more compassionate with both yourself and those around you. Slow down. Breathe. Accept. Try again.
The busier you get, the more you need it
The smaller, ‘less essential’ parts of our routines are the first to go when we get busy. But really, the busier we are, the more we need our routines. These little pockets of time, be it reflective, relaxing or just plain fun are what will keep you going, happily and healthily.
Keeping to a routine is going to give your life a steady foundation, your routines will become your motivator, your support, and your balance. As I said before, your routine should be built around the things you love, so when things get stressful, these are the things you know are still there, outside of the stress of the day-to-day.
And of course, it’s worth noting that this will make you more productive in the long run. With a consistent routine you love, you won’t find yourself spinning off the track, burnt out.
Decide these are things you do
If you decide you ‘might’ go for a run in the morning, it’s far more likely that the warmth of your covers and the sleepiness in your eyes are going to win the argument, no matter how good your intentions. Whereas, if you wake up knowing you’re going for a run, knowing it’s something you have to do – well, the results might look a little better.
Now all of that’s said and done, I think it’s always good to bring it back to a point where we try to act intuitively. Going through a routine like a robot is no better than not having one. It may sound kind of counterintuitive (pun intended) to everything else I’ve said, but it’s the balance that’s important.
Yes, consistency is important. Yes, discipline is important. But, so is being aware of our bodies, of our emotions and of how life can sometimes have other plans for us. It’s okay to take a day off when you truly need it, and the more you listen and open up that conversation with yourself, the better you’ll be able to separate the days when you truly need a break from those when you need to push through.
It’s all a learning process – be gentle with yourself.
There we are! 10 tips on how to keep a routine going to achieve your goals! Listen to your body, decide who you are and run with it. Run as far as you can, and believe me, you can run far.
Love, Ella-Rose xx