How to Make a Routine For Yourself (and Stick to It)
When you're in school, your daily routine is pretty much set for you.
Now that we're all spending a lot more time at home, however, you might realize that the structure in your life is crumbling. While you wake up in the morning with big plans to get a lot of stuff done, you realize by the time you go to bed, that you spent most of your time watching TV and generally being a couch potato.
When you're in charge of your own schedule, routine can be crucial to forming good habits that lead to better emotional, physical and mental health.
But how do you create a routine that actually works for you? Keep scrolling for our tips on how to make a routine for yourself, and stick to it.
Start With Broad Strokes
Before you set your daily routine, you should start by considering the most important things you want to get done in a day. To figure this out, write a list of everything you do each day, along with everything you want to get done. Don't feel overwhelmed if your list is large—this is just a starting point. After you write that list, separate it into three to five broad categories that encompass everything you wrote down. Some examples may include work, leisure time, exercise, hobbies, self-care and anything else that fits in with your daily activities.
Hone the Finer Points
After you've designed your broad categories, you also have to account for the small habits that you need to do each day, but may fall by the wayside when you get lazy. These habits can include brushing your teeth, washing your face, making your bed, eating breakfast—it's basically the tiny things that'll improve your day, but that you might not consciously think about. Make a list of those small, everyday necessities that you should always do, no matter what your day looks like. Don't overwhelm yourself with this list—you shouldn't have more than 5 – 10 at the very most.
Start With the Hard Stuff
As you're setting your routine, start with the things that are already decided for you. If you're still in school, you probably have to be online during set hours to get all your work done. As you're creating your schedule, factor in the activities that aren't under your control first and lay out the hours and times that you have to dedicate to those more monotonous pursuits.
If you have more control over your schedule, think about when you're most productive. Are you someone who likes to get up early and get right to work? Or do you prefer to take your time in the morning and find a burst of energy in the early afternoon and evening? Depending on your answer, schedule those harder tasks into the time that you're most productive.
Pay Attention to the Small Stuff
Once you've allotted time for those harder things that you have to do, often not by choice, it's time to fit in your smaller, daily habits. Decide when you should get each thing done. For example, you should be brushing your teeth morning and night, making your body in the morning and eating breakfast right away. Once you decide on a general time frame for those tasks, write them down alongside your scheduled work time.
Make Time For Fun
Now that you've outlined your work time and your daily habits, it's time to fit in the rest of those categories. Surrounding the time you've allotted for work and in between your daily habits, set aside a specific amount of time for each of your other broad categories. For example, you may set aside an hour for your hobbies after you finish your work, followed by 30 minutes of exercise, two hours of leisure time and an hour of self-care.
This is where the broad categories come in handy because they allow you to do different things depending on the needs of the day while still sticking to your overall schedule. You don't have to write down "30 minutes of reading" and struggle to find time to dive into your favorite book. Instead, you can simply decide that reading will be part of your daily hobby, which takes some of the pressure off of you and allows you to adjust your schedule based on your needs.
(Spongebob Squarepants via Nickelodeon)
Get Specific or Keep It Vague
Once you have the broad outline of your daily tasks, you can get super specific for each day, or you can keep it vague—it all depends on what works for you. Some people need a schedule that outlines every second and accounts for each activity. Others, however, prefer to keep it vague because it allows them to get things done at their pace. It's entirely up to you.
Be Willing to Adjust
When you set a new routine, you're doing a lot of guesswork at what will really work for you. After sticking to that routine for a few days, you might find that things just aren't going as smoothly as you would have liked. If that's the case, you can always make adjustments. Don't feel locked into a routine simply because it's the one you created. Instead, be willing to adjust until you find a schedule that you genuinely like.
Sticking to It
When it comes to sticking to your routine, you have to remember that practice makes perfect. It takes tons of repetition to form a habit, so you have to keep going through the motions of your routine until it feels like the norm. If your schedule falls apart, don't beat yourself. Instead, try your best to make things work the following day. You stick to your routine by simply doing it, again and again and again, even when you make mistakes. If you can do that, you'll find that you have much more productive days waiting for you in your future.
If you struggle with any kind of schedule, click HERE for our tips on how to complete a morning skincare routine if you're lazy.