Wednesday, January 8, 2014

This Year's Big Goal: 10 Routines for 2014

I can sum up all of my goals this year with one word: ROUTINES! Yeah, it's not very sexy :) and it's something I've definitely resisted for a long time, however, it's become pretty clear to me that if I want to make some concrete and consistent progress in a few different areas of my life, it would be a good idea to get more friendly with this concept. I have a tendency to resist anything that looks like "too much structure" but as I've made some baby steps towards establishing better routines I'm starting to realize that they can actually be pretty liberating.

I just sent out an email to my newsletter subscribers talking about the 5 systems you need to have in place to feed your family well with less money, time and stress. And I have those systems pretty firmly in place in my own life, so much so that they are second nature. In effect, these new routines are just other "systems" to make sure I get the other things done that are important to me. When I think about it that way, it seems much less constraining.

Also, I should note that most of the specific items/activities in my new routines are not brand new to me - they are just things I've done more inconsistently than I'd like, and I'd like to "pull it all together" and make them more formalized and ingrained habits.

So, here are my shiny new routines for 2014:

1. Morning routine: I have started getting up at 7 a.m. so I can be fully showered and dressed before I wake my son up for school just before 8:00. This also gives me enough time to do a morning meditation, which is the one brand new thing I'm trying to incorporate into my life this year. I may have to start getting up a bit earlier as my daily meditation time increases (right now it's 12 minutes but I'm already feeling like I want to increase the time slightly).

2.  Email routines: I am setting specific times to check my email during the day - 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.- so I don't compulsively check it (something I can do far too often if I let myself). I'm also working on finding the system that works best for me to help keep my inbox cleared out (I've unsubscribed from a lot of lists lately and that's a good first step!).

3. Lunchtime routine: I want to consistently take an hour and a half break from 11:30 to 1 p.m. My son comes home for lunch from 11:30 to 12:00 and too often I find myself in the middle of something and not all that available to him. So during that time I can help him fix lunch, chat with him a bit about his morning, and clean up the backlog of dishes in the kitchen. From noon to one I can eat my own lunch and take a 30-40 minute walk (except on a day like today where it's -40ºF!!) 

4. Afternoon exercise routine: I've been trying to get back to doing strength training consistently twice a week, and after having poor mobility in one shoulder for a couple of years due to a frozen shoulder (and thus unable to do upper body training), it's been tough to get back in the habit. My upper body strength is nonexistent waaay below what it used to be, too, so it's hard not to feel discouraged. I know the only way to get back to where I was is steady, consistent progress. I'm scheduling 4-5 p.m. as my daily workout time during the week. Hubby and I go to a hot yoga class at 4 p.m. one afternoon a week, and two of the other days will be strength training.The remaining days I'll devote to my home yoga practice. 

5. Bedtime routine: Getting to bed at a reasonable time has always been a challenge for our household full of night owls. I really want to see us ALL better rested this year, so I'm establishing some clearer boundaries around bedtime for all four of us. Of course, just like in most families, mom has to lead by example, so I'm going to have to be REALLY firm about this with myself in order to get everyone else on board. My goal is for us all to start getting ready for bed at 10 p.m. (including getting anything ready for the next day like clothes, permission slips, etc) and all be in our beds by 10:30 p.m. That gives us all half an hour to read or have "quiet" time before lights out at 11 p.m. 

6. Writing routines: I need to get better at scheduling in specific larger chunks of time for writing as I'm only getting done about one third of the writing I'd really like to at the moment.

7. Cleaning routines: Oh, how I really want to get this one under my belt! While we are really good at cooking and washing dishes, most of the other cleaning around the house is pretty hit-or-miss. I think I may finally have come up with some ideas that will keep us more consistently on track in this department.

8. Business routines: Although I don't have an entirely clear picture of what this is going to look like, I need to have better consistency around making updates to my website and blog, a more consistent blogging schedule (that one's also related to my lack of good writing routines), and more structure around my use of social media. I also want to come up with a more formal plan for doing offline types of marketing (something I've neglected to a large extent in the past).

9. Financial routines: While I have a very reliable system in place for paying bills and tracking spending in certain categories like food and clothing, we've gotten a bit sloppier than I would like about our overall financial management. I had been using for the past couple of years to manage our finances, and overall it wasn't a very successful experiment for us. We're going back to good old-fashioned paper, pencil and calculator this year, which has worked well for us in the past. We're also doing the 52 Week Savings Challenge to reboot our savings account.

10. Weekly planning routine: This one seems critical to holding all the other ones together! While I'm pretty good about making a to-do list each day, it has a tendency to be filled with mostly specific appointments and urgent items. I'm now setting time aside on Sunday evenings to plan out my entire week, scheduling in more of those "important but not urgent" items so I actually get them done :) Click HERE for a great little 3 minute video on why that's so important!

That's a big list, for sure, and it might look awfully overwhelming at first glance, but I'm actually feeling excited about the concept of making routines a priority for the year. I'm sure my success may be a bit spotty at times as I try to pull it all together, but some progress is better than no progress :) and I do feel like I'm already making headway just one week into the new year, so that's encouraging!

I'll be sharing in more detail about some of these routines as I go along to let you know what has worked well for me and what hasn't!

Do you have any specific routines that help your life run more smoothly?
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