Follow These Four Steps To Create Your Ideal Routine

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Do you have a routine you’re currently struggling with? Your morning routine, before bed routine, taking kids to school routine, exercise routine - which one is it for you?

Many of us just can’t seem to make a new routine stick. So day to day, week to week, we struggle through our days, wishing we could get some control over this particular area of our life.

It’s often on our mind but we feel too busy or too helpless to actually make a change.

I was working with a client recently on her morning routine - when we first started chatting she was snoozing her alarm repeatedly, scrolling through her phone while in bed, and prioritising her kids’ breakfasts over her own, leaving her hungry and exhausted as she headed out the door.

She knew it was time for an overhaul.

It takes time to stick, but it is absolutely possible to get a new, ideal routine in place. So what are the steps?

1. Journal about your current routine

This is usually the most surprising and enlightening step to creating a new practice. We think we know where our time is going or where we’re going wrong, but until you write it down, it can be hard to quantify.

Pick up your phone or take out a piece of paper and write down your current routine in black and white.

Are you leaving work braindead, so skipping the gym?

Are you frantically cleaning the kitchen before bed, then watching TV to help you doze off?

Capture your current routine and from there you can move to step two.

2. Envisage your ideal routine

The perfect routine is often what we’re dreaming about day to day, lamenting that we’re never going to get there.

My client found this exercise a lot more straightforward than capturing her current routine - among other things, she wanted to do yoga each morning, have a quiet cup of tea before her kids woke up and then eat a relaxed breakfast with them once they woke.

3. Add a new activity each week

Over a few months, we replaced old activities with new, manageable ones each week.

Rather than launching into a 60 minute yoga routine each morning, we added five minute stretching videos to three of her weekday mornings (Yoga with Adriene, we love you).

She found it tough to make four breakfasts in the morning so grocery shopped for some easy options to have in the cupboard, and sometimes prepped breakfast the night before so it was ready to go once the day got under way.

Week by week, new habits were developed and the baby steps started to stick.

4. Review your progress

What’s so heartening is once you have your current and ideal routine noted down, you can chip away at the changes, then (the best part!) go back and review your progress once your new routine is in place.

To see how far you’ve come is super motivating and you can then apply this process to any part of life that’s not going as you'd like it to right now.

Which routine are you ready to overhaul? Start with writing down your current and ideal routines, then add a new habit this week to get underway.

My Newest Habit: Journaling

As I mentioned in this post, January has seen me trying out a new practice in both my morning and evening routines.

Inspired by The Five Minute Journal, the prompts of its pages provide a simple and swift way to enjoy your days more.

Gratitude and looking forward

In the mornings, you’re asked to think of what you’re grateful for and then what three things would make that particular day great.

Some examples I’ve written include lunch with a friend, a yoga class, a productive day at work, a relaxing evening with a movie, etc.

I enjoy this practice because rather than feeling sleepy or grumpy about getting up and starting the day, you are immediately putting a positive spin on the day ahead.

I also usually check in on the journal when I get home from work. I can then see what I’d hoped would make the day great when I was starting my day, and try to make sure it happens before the day is out.

Looking back

I don’t always remember to do the evening questions, but when I do, I’m prompted to think about what went really well that day and what I would improve.

What may have seemed like a standard work day, with a night at home doing the regular chores, now has a much more positive spin when you think about what went well.

You can also start to see patterns of the areas where your days don’t go so well. For example, feeling swamped at work, missing a workout, not connecting in relationships, etc.

As you can tell, my mindset has definitely been shifted in a positive way, and I’m also more conscious of what I want day to day.

Do you journal? Has this inspired you to try it out?

 

Where I'm At with Shannon Ables from The Simply Luxurious Life

I am thrilled to be featuring Shannon Ables from The Simply Luxurious Life blog and The Simple Sophisticate podcast on Where The Light Plays today.

I've been following Shannon's blog since early 2012 and have felt like I've 'gotten to know her' even better this year through her podcast.

The Simply Luxurious Life really does cover all areas of life in a luxurious, yet attainable way - home, style, food, ways of being, the French lifestyle - to name a few. Shannon is a high school English teacher in Oregon, has had great success with her online career and even brought out a book, Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide in 2014.

Enjoy this peek into her daily routine, and I hope you'll enjoy following her online as much as I do.

What is your usual wake up time?

5am.

What is your morning ritual?

Because I find I am most awake, fresh and creative in the mornings, I don’t want to waste a moment in the morning sleeping in, so once I am awake, I am up and going.

I will wake up an extra hour early so that I can ease myself into the day and indulge in simple luxuries.

My breakfast is the same, but I crave it each day: steel oats with raisins, honey and roasted sliced almonds, one egg over-easy and hot water with lemon.

My dogs Oscar and Norman are at my feet all morning (which makes it even harder to walk out the door to my teaching job during the school year), so I bring a treat for each of them to the table, where I enjoy my breakfast while reading the local morning newspaper.

I always have Morning Joe on in the morning as well to stay abreast of the breaking national and international news as well.

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Tell us about your commute.

I feel fortunate to say I live less than a mile from my school, and when I’m not teaching, my commute is to my home office to blog, plan and tape my podcast.

Do you like to plan your day ahead or allow some spontaneity?

Planning is something I sincerely enjoy doing. I will plan my day, my week, the month, set yearly goals and 5–10 year goals for fun even if it wasn’t required.

I find it exhilarating to plan, check in and celebrate when I complete what I have set out to do.

The gift that planning gives me is that when I finish what I need to do, I can relax and just let my mind wander. I am always amazed at where it travels and what it comes up with when I give it this freedom.

How do you spend your ideal lunch break to recharge for the afternoon?

As a self-proclaimed introvert, I need my alone time, so during the school year I enjoy most days having lunch to myself. Sometimes I will join other colleagues, but because lunch is so quick and we have to be on in fewer than 40 minutes, I need time to recharge.

When I am blogging, I spend my lunch either at a cafe or in the kitchen creating something from scratch, then I’ll sit down and relax until I am ready to get busy again.

What kind of workout schedule do you try to adhere to?

Working out is not only something I know I need to do for my health, it is something I thoroughly enjoy; however, I am not someone who tortures themselves.

My dogs become jumping beans when they see me put on my workout clothes and grab their leash. So seeing their enthusiasm makes it easy to go for an hour-long hike 5–6 days a week.

Bend has endless trails right outside my door, so I feel as though I am in the wilderness in minutes, and can fortunately return home in minutes when the hike is complete.

I also sign up for one Pilates class at a local studio, as well as two twenty minute strength sessions at home, each week.

How do you like to end your day?

Something I have shared with my blog readers for years is my evening ritual.

I need time to unwind and usually give myself at least an hour no matter how late the work day has lasted.

So long as I haven’t indulged in dessert, I will pair my evening black lavender tea with a dark chocolate peanut butter truffle from my favourite chocolatier Arrowhead Chocolates. Since I have recently moved to a different town, I place my order every two months to be sure I always have these decadent, rewarding treats at the ready.

What time do you doze off?

I am an early bird because I enjoy my mornings so much, so it is not unusual for me to be in bed by 8:30 and asleep by nine.

DVR is my favourite everyday invention as I typically will watch my favourite shows the next evening at an hour that works with my schedule.

Any advice for women trying to find ease in their every day?

Find the courage to say “No”. The best gift I gave myself was recognising what I had to do, what I wanted to do and then letting go of all the rest without guilt.

We only get 24 hours in the day and each day builds upon the day before. Where do you want to take your life? Once you know the answer to that question, saying “No” becomes much easier.

Can you give my readers your quick go-to recipe after a busy day?

Absolutely! Part of my evening ritual upon returning home from work and having finished the walk with the dogs is stepping into the kitchen. It is such a therapeutic activity.

A typical evening will include some sort of vegetable dish and a protein. Sometimes I also have a slice of a baguette with cheese or dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

A simple, yet delicious vegetable side dish is a recipe from Julia Child. Her green beans: Boil the beans for 10 minutes in salted water until they become al dente. With a Japanese strainer, remove them from the water and place them in a hot skillet. Let the water steam off of them for about 30 seconds and then add 1-2 tablespoons of good unsalted butter. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, make sure the melted butter coats the beans (about 1 minute). Then add fresh lemon juice and leave the slice of lemon in the pan.

Voilà! You are done. The beans should be shiny and full of flavour, just waiting to be enjoyed.

Pair with Sole Meunière (click here for the recipe) and a glass of rosé. Bon appétit!

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Thank you so much for being interviewed Shannon - you've inspired me to plan my days even more carefully and of course try your recipe (rosé and all!)

You can find Shannon at the links below and also click the video to gain more insight into the simply luxurious way of living.

My Evening Routine

After my morning routine post a few months back, I’ve had requests to talk you through my evening routine. My initial thought was ‘I'm not sure I have an evening routine’...

Upon further reflection, like most organised people (yes, that’s me) - I kind of do have some standard rituals that I follow. Thinking about my evening routine for this post has also helped me tighten up what I was doing after work and be more mindful around how I spend my time.

I move my body

Remember my reminders app post?

I don’t go to the gym every night but I do try and do something after work - whether it’s a walk at sunset, some yoga stretches, just something to move my body after a day hunched over the computer.

I rest as soon as I can 

Resting after work has taken me years to learn. I used to get home from work and rush into evening mode - grabbing a snack, putting laundry on, starting dinner. Um, cruel! I just worked all day and now you want me to do the night shift??

I now make a conscious effort to have a break before I start anything.

I’ll often change my clothes, grab a glass of water or cup of tea and sit (let’s face it - lie) down and read a book or an article on my iPad. This usually ends in kitten cuddles from Pickles which is pretty amazing, but the overarching point is to delineate between work and the evening ahead.

This video from Kimberley Snyder is a good way to combine exercise and rest in one if you're strapped for time. 

I eat dinner 

Yes, I eat dinner! Shock.

My husband and I split the cooking (which I’m so grateful for). Usually on the nights I’m at the gym he will cook and I’ll cook on the nights I’m home after work.

I don’t mind cooking and make a conscious effort to single task - that is, work through the cooking one step at a time, without trying to multi task the steps too much. That’s when I end up a bit frazzled as I sit down to dinner. I also love to put some music on and sip a glass of wine on some evenings.

I prep for the next day

I don’t know how I lived without this step for so long. I feel like a super organised loser, but I don’t care, it’s worth it.

I check the weather, choose my outfit for the next day, prep any breakfast that I can prep ahead of time (hello overnight oats!), and pack my gym or work bag if need be.

It takes 10 minutes max and makes me a less grumpy lady the next morning.

I put my phone away

Those phone reminders are back again. I still have a bit of an internal argument whenever I see this reminder but I do relax and sleep better if I’m not on my phone until the last minute before REM sets in.

I set my alarm, plug my iPhone into the charger and grab my most recent book.

I read 

After being an obsessive reader growing up, and also working in book publishing for years, since the takeover of the internet and specifically social media in our lives, I just have not read as much as I’d like to.

I’m still not 100% clear on the reasons why, but in 2015 I have really ramped up the reading.

My mother-in-law has been lending me some great books this year, so I think knowing someone is waiting on your opinion on a book keeps me churning through a chapter a night. I’ve never been a member of a book club but imagine they serve the same purpose?

Either way I’m going with it and enjoying the escapism at the end of a long day.

What’s involved in your evening routine?

Am I missing a great step you can share with me?

Comment below and share this post if you enjoyed it.

 

Where I'm At: Interview Series - Kerryn Hewson of Colour Your Life

 

Welcome to my new interview series 'Where I'm At'. It's a voyeuristic, yet helpful look into the lives of women who are finding where the light plays within them. Their daily rituals, ways of managing stress and advice to you, the readers, will be captured in these interviews.

First up is Kerryn Hewson, Positivity Coach at Colour Your Life. Kerryn is based in Wellington, New Zealand and she provides perspective, inspiration and action to help ambitious, creative and passionate people living their life on auto-pilot, change their world by leading a positive life. Over to Kerryn:

What is your usual wake up time?

During the week my alarm goes off at 6am and I snooze it anywhere from one to four times. On the weekends I generally wake up between 8-9am sometimes with an alarm, often without.

Do you have a morning routine or ritual?

I’m not a ‘wide awake’ morning person so I like to give myself time to adjust. I start with putting my contact lenses in and taking a shower which helps wake me up. Then I like to settle onto the sofa with a blanket and write 'Morning Pages'.

   'Morning Pages' are three stream of consciousness journal pages introduced to the world by Julia Cameron in   The Artist’s Way .  Kerryn has written a   Quick Guide to Morning Pages   if you’d like to know more.

 

'Morning Pages' are three stream of consciousness journal pages introduced to the world by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. Kerryn has written a Quick Guide to Morning Pages if you’d like to know more.

Tell us about your commute!

My commute is a 20 minutes train ride each way around the beautiful Wellington harbour.

On my commute into work I usually check my email including Facebook and Twitter notifications, blog reader, and Instagram - in that order. On the way home I’ll do the same and might browse Pinterest.

I know that this commute time is quality reading time and I’m trying to reach for my Kindle with my latest wellbeing or business read (I have Thrive by Arianna Huffington and The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks on the go right now) but it’s pretty hit and miss.

Do you like to plan your day ahead or prefer to leave it up to spontaneity?

Can you plan in spontaneity? I’m a total planner, but by planning in the time for the activities and projects that are important to me I free up other time to be spontaneous and do what I feel like. In fact, since planning in business hours to work on Colour Your Life I’ve freed myself from feeling guilty for not working on it during my down time and that’s allowed me to start listening to a bunch of podcasts I previously felt I never had time for.

How do you spend your ideal lunch break to recharge for the afternoon?

Out in the sunshine on the waterfront staring out at the harbour!

There really is something about being outside, getting fresh air and being near water when you’re stuck in an office all day.

What kind of workout schedule do you try to adhere to?

Hm, adhere to would imply consistency…

I try to get to a couple gym classes every week. My favourites are Zumba and Body Combat. I’ve also started doing some at home body weight circuits off Pinterest. And now that it’s moving into summer time here in New Zealand I’ll be starting to go walking in the evening with a friend of mine.

Between all of that I manage to exercise at least once a week and a really active week will see me exercising 3-4 times.

How do you like to end your day?

I like to end my day feeling relaxed which most commonly happens after I’ve been knitting while watching some TV with my husband or taking a hot bath.

What time do you doze off?

My bedtime is 10pm and I’ll generally head towards bed around 9.30pm.

What do you aspire to every day but never / rarely actually do? (you can tell me, we all have them!)

I already mentioned using my commute for quality reading time but I had another one in mind. Meditation!

I know all the benefits. I feel great when I do it. I have a bunch of very helpful apps on my phone and access to some great guided meditations. And yet… somehow I’ve just not found the right way to integrate it into my daily life.

Any advice for women trying to find ease in their every day?

My quickest tip to adding more ease into your day is to pause and simply breathe. Stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath in through your nose so that you can feel your lungs expanding, then exhale through your mouth like gradually letting the air out of a balloon.

My other piece of advice when you’re trying to find more ease in your day is to focus on making one change at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself and don’t force yourself to make more conscious decisions in a day than you need to! So whether it’s adhering to a new bedtime or workout regime, starting a meditation practice, or using your commute more productively, introduce them gradually one at a time.

Finally, can you give us your quick go-to recipe after a busy day?

Grilled chicken or oven roasted fish with roast veggies or a salad. 

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Thanks Kerryn, I'm jealous of your commute and lunch views!

Want to hear more from Kerryn? Find her at Colour Your Life, on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest (@kerrynhewson), or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/practicepositivity