5 Steps to Create a Personalized Daily Routine

to do list on a clipboard

​The Spruce / Ruthie Darling

Setting up an organized work routine takes a little time to set up. You need to figure out what you need to get done and when to do it. Learn how to make a schedule for your daily tasks and activities. It will help you form good habits and break bad ones for a more productive, happier life.

  1. Make a List

    First, write down everything you need to get done daily, both in your home life and at work. Don’t worry about how you organize this list; this is a brain dump, not a to-do list. Take 30 minutes with a notebook to jot down everything you do each day, as well as everything you should get done.

    If you feel like it's too hard to remember all the tasks in one sitting, carry around a notebook and take notes throughout the day. In the beginning, no task is too small—if you want to work "brush teeth" into your routine, put it on the list.

    making a to do list
    The Spruce / Ruthie Darling
  2. Structure Your Day

    Early birds get things done most effectively before lunchtime, while night owls tend to get their creative burst of energy in the evenings. Think about when you work best, and group your tasks into the time of day that makes the most sense for when you will best complete them.

    • Mornings: Mornings are often about getting out the door, which can be its own challenge. Group all your early tasks here, like feeding and walking pets, unloading the first load of dishes for the day, and putting dinner in the slow cooker. Once the morning rush is over, reserve the mornings for the tasks that require the most critical thinking and troubleshooting. There's a common saying, "Eat the frog," which refers to getting the task that you want to do least done first thing in the day, so it's not looming over you.
    • Midday: This is a tricky time of day because your energy levels—and perhaps the caffeine from your morning coffee—have likely dissipated. However, this means you might be primed to do the boring, routine stuff that doesn't take a lot of brainpower. Use this time for tasks like answering emails, setting appointments, and running errands. If you are based at home during the day, use this time for routine cleaning, like emptying the dishwasher and loading it back up, scrubbing the bathrooms.
    • Evening: Evenings work best when they're set aside for planning and preparation for the next day. Lay out your clothes, pack lunches, and declutter the rooms where items tend to pile up, like the kitchen. If you follow the weekly organizing routine, you'll be picking up one room a day for 15 to 20 minutes.
    work from home time
    ​The Spruce / Ruthie Darling
  3. Get Specific (Optional)

    Within these loose outlines of each part of your day, you can get as specific as you want. For example, you might want to write out a routine for your morning that looks something like this:

    • 6 a.m.: Wake up, brush teeth, and shower
    • 6:30 a.m.: Breakfast
    • 7 a.m.: Leave the house
    • 7:15 a.m.: Drop off the kids at school
    • 7:30: Arrive at the office

    That's a very detailed schedule, but some people might feel more comfortable with that—at least until they get the hang of the routine.

    making a very detailed list
    ​The Spruce / Ruthie Darling 
  4. Schedule in Time for Flexibility

    Life gets in the way of even the most detailed routines. 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. There might be times when you have to go to a doctor's appointment during the hours you usually set aside for work, or your evening is taken up by a social gathering—a daily routine will keep things flowing smoothly, despite hiccups.

    taking a break
    ​The Spruce / Ruthie Darling
  5. Test Drive Your New Routine

    Take your new routine for a test drive for 30 days. How does it feel? Did you schedule your tasks and activities at times that make sense? Do you need to adjust things? Tweak anything that is not working on a case-by-case basis, and then assess after 30 days to see how your new routine is working for you. 

    test driving your routine for 30 days
    The Spruce / Ruthie Darling

Creating a daily routine seems daunting at first, but you will soon reap the rewards when your productivity soars, morning meltdowns are reduced, and you find you actually have pockets of free time throughout the day or week. Even better? Nothing is written in stone so if your daily routine doesn't work perfectly at first, simply make some tweaks until you find the ideal schedule.