As a health coach I have a TON of free time. Some times I think it’s too much. We have a saying “work is flexible, not optional.” Doesn’t that sound nice!? Well it is pretty incredible. To have the freedom to work whenever, and whenever is freaking fantastic BUT there’s a downside to it all… No one is going to wag their finger at you to get it done. Which in most cases is also very freeing. I have been in business for myself for almost 9 years now so I almost don’t remember what it was like to have a boss watching your every move.
So in order to stay in business Mother Structure came into my life. And like most daughter and mother relationships, we can sometimes butt heads and some days you can work together like nobody’s business. I’m still learning how to work with her. Before Mother Structure existed I got what I needed to get done but it was usually last-minute and probably never my best work. I would have to say I did enough to get by, and I truly wanted more, but for the longest time, I refused to make the necessary changes. I fought Mother Structure like a teenage girl experiencing PMS for the first time.
For about 6 of those 9 years I thought I knew it all (sound like a true teenager, right?) I mean, I had found success, I was doing the “do” but from an outside perspective one my business partners pointed out that I was burning the candle at both ends which meant longevity of how I was doing it all would burn out a lot quicker than I wanted or needed.
So this is when I allowed my Mother Structure to come in and clean house. Slowly but surely we made some changes and still to this day 3 years later, I’m still learning from her.
Routines are great. They take the mind out of the equation and allow us to do what is necessary without over thinking it. Yup, I’m the one that can over think, thinking which then causes me to freeze and not do anything because I just wasted so much brain power on over thinking what I was thinking. Ugh, that gets exhausting! So when you’re able to create a routine, your mind doesn’t have to think about it, it just does it. For example, when you tie your shoe, you do it the same way every single time. You probably don’t have to think at all. You put your shoe on and your brain says, “Alright body, the shoe is on let’s tie it.” The simple act of you putting your shoe on triggers a routine that follows without thinking of every step. Can we just stop for a second and admire your ability to do something without any thought? Kudos to you my friend, you’re on your way to doing great things!
Ok, ok all joking aside. This is where we start to build. Now that we understand our ability to create a routine. We can spend some time looking at bigger tasks that will help us make the most of our time as well as use less brain power.
Habits are what make up our routines. You probably have a morning habits and don’t even realize it. Whats’ the first thing you do in the morning when you wake up…
Check your phone?
Go to the bathroom?
Drink some water?
Those are the more traditional things people do after waking… do you do them in a certain order? Probably. And you probably don’t even realize it. This is where we can take an outside look into what you normally do. And from there we make the simple decision to change the smallest details that trigger you into a new routine.
Sounds more complicated than it is. I’ll use the example of drinking water. A few months ago, I was struggling to get in all my water for the day. My goal is always 80 ounces. So to get in more water I felt I needed to start drinking it earlier in the day. But we live in a two-story home so by the time I got downstairs after getting ready we were an hour into the day. So I made the tiny shift in bringing a water bottle upstairs with me before I went to bed the night before. This little habit of grabbing a water bottle on my way to bed, allows my entire routine to shift. Water is now one of the FIRST things I do in the morning and since making the shift it has become so habitual that I don’t even think about grabbing water when I go upstairs. It’s as mindless as me turning off the lights, it’s a part of my routine.
So after making these changes…where do you go from making the small habit shifts? Easy… wherever you want. What do you want to be able to do day-in and day-out? Here’s the 5-step process I’d recommend…
Create a list.
Start off small. Maybe 5 things you want to do daily. Keep the tasks simple. As well as the expectation. If I had said to myself, write for an hour every day. I would have seen that as an impossible task to be consistent so I started with ‘write everyday’ with no expectations of how long or how much. The success was in the act of writing.
This one is tough because for me there are a lot of important things I want to get done but don’t necessarily need to focus on. Prime example right now… jump rope. I’m making it a part of my daily routine to complete. I know its silly and simple but it’s not on the top of my list and therefore it’s not in the routine yet. Just something I can do at some point of the day.
Ok this is the biggest challenge. Putting it in your calendar like you would a doctor’s appointment. When I schedule my routine, it takes the guesswork out of it. The calendar is another way of having Mother Structure telling you what you need to do. Making your routines as appointments (digital is best because you can make them recurring) it’s like saying you made a date with a friend and you don’t want to break the date, the only difference here is that you are your own friend.
Routines are practiced habits. You will have to do it many times before it becomes second nature. 40 days into writing and it’s still not mindless BUT the act of knowing everyday I am going to sit down and write is becoming habitual and not as challenging of a fight with myself.
This step is key. Allow yourself some room for adjustments. The beauty of our routines is that they are ours to create. No one can tell you that it is right or wrong. You can adjust it as many times as you want as long as you keep trying and understand that some things will work for you at better times. I can tell you that my writing time has changed but when I’m most consistent in doing is sometime in the morning before I get pulled in a million different directions. I prefer mornings as well because I’m able to complete the task and have a win for myself going into the rest of the day.
Whatever you want your routines to be, allow yourself the space to grow through it. Most of our routines are chosen for us out of survival. But when you give yourself the space to decide, some pretty incredible things can start to happen!
Life begins when you give yourself time!