You have tasks you do every single day. Then you have tasks you do every week. Instead of rushing around not sure what to do next or what needs to be done, how about setting a up a system to keep track of everything? Setting up a solid daily routine is a little bit art and a little bit science. The science is figuring out what you need to get done; the art is figuring out when to do it.
1. Make a List of All of Your Daily Tasks
The first step is to gather information on what you need to get done daily.
Don’t worry about how you organize this list; this is a brain dump, not a to-do list. take 30 minutes with a legal pad and jot down everything you do each day (and everything you miss but should be doing). Better yet, carry around a small notebook and make notes all day long.
Capture all of the tasks you need to get done in a day.
If You Already Have a Routine...
You can divide these into the following:
- Tasks you already do that work well for you, and
- Tasks you need to add into your routine.
If You're Starting From Scratch...
Begin by answering these questions:
- What tasks do you need to complete each day in order to get to work?
- Which tasks do you need to do each day to get your kids to school?
- Which tasks do you need to do each day to eat?
- Which errands do you need to get done daily?
- Which tasks need to get done each done in order for you to get some exercise?
- Which tasks do I need to get done to maintain an organized home?
Make the list. In the beginning, nothing is too small, if you want to work "brush teeth" into your routine, that's great. When I was creating mine, I found it much easier to throw everything in and edit out later.
2. Create a Schedule
Now assess your energy levels. Think about when you do your best work.
Most people have greater energy for creative thinking in the morning because self-control depletes throughout the day. It’s important to schedule your “big thinking”
With that in mind, here are some guidelines:
Mornings about getting out the door, which is itself a challenge, especially if you have children. I like to get out the door as quickly possible because I know I do my best work in the morning.
Reserve the mornings for the tasks that require the most critical thinking and troubleshooting. If you're a writer, make sure you have time to write in the morning.
This is a very powerful time of day because your energy (and coffee high) has likely dissipated. This means you're primed to do the really boring, routine stuff. Use this time for tasks like answering emails, setting appointments, researching necessities like directions to upcoming appointments and recipes, and run some errands if you have time (post office, dry cleaner, bank, etc.)
Evenings are for planning and preparation for the next day: put your "get ready" activities like laying out your clothes, packing lunches, and decluttering in the evening.
If you follow the Weekly Organizing Routine, you're going to be decluttering one room a day for 15-20 minutes.
3. Add in Some Flexibility
Your work process or schedule may not fit neatly into this, and that's OK; the point is to harness your most productive times to use for your most challenging tasks, and your least productive times to do the more mundane tasks. What I found while researching daily routines is that a lot of very successful people work all night long and sleep all day.
If that's you, that's fine!
4. Put Your New Routine Together
Now match up your activities with times.
Start with anything that has to be done at a certain time each day (like picking your kids up a school or eating lunch).
Then slot in tasks based on when you think it makes the most sense to tackle them.
To make this easier on you, I've created a standard daily routine checklist. You can use this as a draft to work off of, or cut and paste into your own document.
5. Test Drive Your New Routine
Take our new routine for a test drive for 30 days. How does it feel? Did you schedule your tasks at activities at times that makes sense? Do you need to adjust things?
Adjust anything that is not working on a case-by-case basis. Then do an assessment after 30 days to see how your new routine is working for you.