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.

Struggling To Get Out Of Bed In The Morning? Read This...

Do you ever get the feeling you’re the only one who struggles in the mornings?

Your alarm goes off and you a) hit the snooze alarm or b) start the desperate bargaining for how you can stay in bed.

Can I exercise tomorrow instead? Can I call in sick? Can I work from home? Can I cancel all my plans and stay in the warmth?

I hear about this happening a lot in conversations with clients and friends and - shock - also sometimes feel this myself.

In particular, over the last week, with clocks changing, I’ve been struggling to get out of bed in the morning.

So what can you do?

Expect it

We often go to bed with grand plans of yoga the next morning, prepping our lunch and jumping out of bed gleefully to our to do list. If you wake up and don’t feel like the person you expected to the night before, that’s ok.

The worst thing you can do is berate yourself and feel shocked, disappointed or guilty about your struggle.

If you know you don’t usually feel great, expect it and it will be easier to take when it comes up in the wee hours of the morning.

Watch it

In one of my favourite personal development books, The Happiness Trap (read my review here), Dr Russ Harris talks about distancing yourself from your thoughts.

As we’ve come to understand, our thoughts are not necessarily the truth, so if you can name the thoughts or watch them from a distance, they will likely be easier to deal with.

For example, you can name the thoughts you go through each morning (“Here comes the ‘stay in bed’ story again”) or mentally stand back and watch your thoughts drift by from a distance.

This loosens their power and effect on you and helps pull you out of the intensity of your feelings.

Move on with it

I’m sure many of us have had this experience - we are 100% sure we cannot face the day and will feel like rubbish all day if we even attempt to face the world.

We promise ourselves as soon as we get home from the day we can go back to bed and pull the covers over our head.

Then after dragging ourselves out of bed, we shower, have breakfast and can barely remember that crazy person who told us to not to get out of bed today.

We get on with our day and enjoy the evening, before returning to bed at regular time that night.

I’m not dismissing the need to have a doona day now and then, but usually it’s not actually what we need or want by the time we start our day.

Try moving on with your day’s activities and observe the results.

If you’re ready to try becoming a morning person, read my three tips here.

And let me know how you go with your morning thoughts this week and if these tips help you face the day. 

Why You Should Do A Thought Download Every Morning

As I mentioned here, I spent most of 2016 trying to get better and more consistent with journaling my thoughts.

I have to admit I really only dabbled - I preferred doing yoga and some meditation in the morning and by the time I was ready for bed, the thought of writing pages on my inner most musings sounded exhausting.

Even though I saw benefits from journaling, including more gratitude and better sleep, it never really stuck.

So far in 2017 I have been much more consistent with the practice and am using Brooke Castillo’s strategy of thought downloads.

So how does my thought download routine work?

  1. I spend 5 minutes in the morning writing down all the thoughts in my head so I can start to look at them.
  2. I run the self coaching model on one of my overriding thoughts. I identify the circumstance/fact that has brought on the thought, then note down my feelings, actions and results from here. I often do this once for the default way I’m thinking, then once for how I would like to be thinking.
  3. I note down the dominant emotion I felt the day before, and the desired emotion I want to feel today (for example, today’s proposed desired emotion is ‘inspired’).

And what have I noticed?

  1. I am grumpy in the morning! At first I felt a little worried by my thought downloads, but now I go back and have a little snicker at how irritable I was and how I didn’t continue feeling that way throughout the day.
  2. In line with the first point, I’m learning again that my thoughts are not the truth. So if I feel a certain way when I wake up, or am thinking certain thoughts, I don’t have to carry those same ideas with me throughout my day.
  3. It’s great to have an anchor emotion to focus on. I’ve been pretty good at sticking to my desired emotion for the day but I have had a few days where ‘overwhelmed’ was my number one emotion. I can then go back and look at how I got to a less desired emotion, and how I could have thought and acted to get to the emotion I wanted instead.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress of this practice but so far I’m enjoying being more conscious about my thoughts and the day ahead. As Brooke says:

Let me know in the comments below if you try the thought download practice of if you have another journaling technique you use.

 

3 Steps To Becoming A Morning Person

You can believe me when I tell you I was never built to be a morning person.

As a teenager I remember cringing as my dad chirped ‘Morning!’ while I dragged myself out of my bedroom to the kitchen, wishing I could lay on the floor and sleep for another two hours.

In my 20s I was obsessed with shortening my morning routine - doing as much as I could the night before, skipping breakfast and getting the latest train to work as humanly possible.

A few years ago I decided this couldn’t be the reality of the rest of my life. Feeling grumpy and sluggish was no longer how I wanted to start my days.

Now, I get up 20 minutes earlier than I need to and take all the time I need to get ready for the day ahead. So how did I do it?

Ease into it

My transformation into a (somewhat) morning person did not just happen miraculously one day. It took lots of trial and error and alarm tweaking.

I mapped out what I wanted to get done in the morning and how much time it would take to comfortably do each task.

For example, I didn’t want to skip breakfast anymore and, in fact, I wanted to take 15 minutes to eat it while reading my favourite blogs.

I started building that, and all my other ideas, into each day.

Think of the five things you’d like to do in the morning before your day kicks off and start slowly moving your alarm clock back to accommodate them. Try it for a week and if it doesn’t work, mix it up the following week.

Do something for yourself first

This concept is a major factor in becoming a morning person.

Whether you work full time, have a family, or have a number of other commitments each day, if you get up and launch into those tasks first thing, it won’t set your day up to be centred and purposeful.

For me, I take 20 minutes when I wake up to meditate and do some yoga stretches - old me wouldn’t have believed I’d have the energy to do this each morning, but now, I know I won’t feel myself if I don’t do these things.

It’s good for my mind and body and sets me up to move on to my to do list.

Have something to look forward to

If you’re finding you are having to drag yourself out of bed each day, it’s likely you’re stuck in a routine that doesn’t inspire you much anymore.

Yes, we have all chosen the set up for our day-to-day lives, but that can still become monotonous, no matter how much you enjoy your family, work or home.

If you plan (and even calendarise) something fun each day, you’ll wake up knowing you’re planning a mid-morning coffee from your favourite cafe, or going for a walk with a good friend, or going for dinner with your partner after work.

Here are 34 of my favourite ways to have fun if you’re needing inspiration.

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What can you add in to your morning routine this week? Can you even set your alarm a little earlier? Let me know in the comments below.

The Happiness of Doing Less

In discussions of late with girlfriends, the idea of doing less has been coming up more and more.

We used to pride ourselves on hitting the 6am spin class, grabbing dinner and wine after work and stuffing our weekends full of catch ups with every ex-coworker and high school friend we could find.

It may be (read: probably is) age but this routine doesn't seem to have the same appeal as it used to. Slowing down, breathing and being more discerning about what we say 'yes' to is now at the forefront of our minds.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by commitment and don't know how to slow down, try some of these tips:

Form routines

A morning and evening routine crafted just for you will really frame your days and encourage self-care and pleasure.

Write out the activities you want to help wake you up in the morning and those that will end your evening on a relaxing note (a long walk? cooking a delicious breakfast? yoga before bed?) and start to implement them week by week.

Pick your appointments

Finding time to catch up with those important to us seems to be getting more and more challenging.

Diarise monthly or bi-monthly catch ups with friends, make sure the appointments are scheduled at relaxed times that suit both of you and feel free to say no to those relationships that you don't value as highly as others. Yes, really.

Avoid the highlight reels

Gazing on social media with a severe sense of FOMO can undo all the joy of doing less.

But remember - social media is everyone's highlight reel - we usually don't see them trimming their toenails, running late for appointments or dreading the next appointment they have to go to.

So if it makes you feel worse, stay off social media or remove those that bring any feelings of anxiety.

How can you do less in the next week? What can you say no to? 

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 Ashten from Just Go Left

Welcome to the first 'Where I'm At' interview of 2016!

Today's interviewee, Ashten, writes a super inspiring blog over at Just Go Left. She posts about the ups and downs of real life, accepting adulthood (one of my fave posts!) and many other useful posts about health and lifestyle. She's also the social media queen for the intuitive eating program I follow, Finally Free.  

I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did - it's an honest one about the balance we try and find in our everyday lives. 

What is your usual wake up time?

On a weekday, I’m usually awake by 5 a.m., so I can go to the gym. And yes, I’m one of those crazy people who work out in the morning but in my defense, this is the only way I can fit it in.

On weekends, I don’t set an alarm nor do I have a set wake-up time. I like to wake up slowly and enjoy my mornings, since I’m so rushed during the week.

How do you like to start your day?

I like to start my mornings slowly, but during the week I don’t have that luxury.

When my alarm goes off at 5 a.m., I get dressed in the work-out clothes I laid out the night before, brush my teeth, grab the work-out bag I packed the night before and go downstairs. There, I grab the lunch I packed the night before and the coffee I set to brew at 5 a.m., make a quick breakfast and head out the door to the gym. 

I’m usually there from 5:45 a.m.-7:45 a.m. (this factors in time to shower and get dressed) and then I head to the office.

Did reading that make you absolutely exhausted?!

Don’t worry, my weekends are SO MUCH more relaxing.

I wake up slowly, have coffee and take my dog Gatsby to the dog park before coming home to work on my blog and spend quality time with my boyfriend Kyle. We take long walks with the dog, catch up on our DVR and do A LOT of relaxing. Clearly weekends are a lot more fun.

Tell us about your commute.

Okay first of all? Commuting is THE WORST.

I know I’m not alone in my feelings towards it.

I work in Downtown Atlanta, and getting there can be an absolute nightmare when traffic is bad (and it’s always bad in Atlanta, in case you were wondering). My drive can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, if I’m leaving from my house. But, when I leave from the gym it takes me about 10 minutes…which is even more motivation for me to get to the gym in the morning!

PS: if you’re like me, I found this blog post extremely helpful in surviving the commuter life.

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

I like a little bit of both, but if I’m being honest my weekdays don’t allow for much spontaneity unless it’s a random dinner with a friend after work.

My weekends are a lot more spontaneous, once the “adult” things (like grocery shopping and laundry) are done.

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

My ideal lunch break would look like me going into my kitchen, making something healthy and satisfying and getting to enjoy it at my dining room table. Maybe taking Gatsby outside for a short walk afterwards, before starting work again.

In reality, my lunch break is usually spent at my desk. But, to combat any “overwhelm” this might create, I try to have relaxing music on and soft lighting. I also try to bring food I can enjoy so it feels like a treat during a long day.

You’ve mentioned your morning gym routine so I’m guessing you have a pretty great workout schedule?

I try to get to the gym every morning during the week, and take long walks with Gatsby on the weekends.

I do not do the same workout at the gym every day, nor do I put pressure on myself to work out harder or better than anyone else. I do what feels good and what I enjoy.

How do you like to end your day?

I like to set myself up for success for the next day. This looks like packing a lunch/my gym bag and laying out my gym clothes for the next day.

When that’s done, it’s all about self-care. I take a bath, lie in bed with Gatsby (sometimes Kyle if he’s not working late), read or watch Netflix.

Weekends we like to watch Netflix and have Moscow Mules (our favourite cocktail)

What time do you doze off?

This is kind of embarrassing but I’m usually asleep by 9-9:30 p.m. That 5 a.m. alarm comes really early and I need at least 8 hours of sleep. (This is 30...)

What do you aspire to every day but rarely actually do? (you can tell me, we all have them!)

Quiet time. I would love to integrate that into my daily routine but I honestly just don’t have time. Bad excuse, I know. Maybe I need to make more time.

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

Try to do one thing every day that’s just for YOU. Doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it makes you feel good. If you can’t show up for yourself, you’re no good for anyone else.

Can you give my readers your quick go-to recipe?

This breakfast recipe has saved me SO many times. Bonus? It’s totally healthy AND easy!

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Best of Where The Light Plays 2015

Happy new year dear readers! I hope you’ve had a great start to 2015.

I have to say a huge thank you for all your support in 2015 and for checking in each week to hear what I’m up to on my corner of the internet.

If you’re a regular, you may enjoy revisiting some of the most popular posts from the past year, and if you’re new here (welcome!), enjoy your first peek into Where The Light Plays.

Where I’m At interviews

I’m so glad you are enjoying these interviews as much as I enjoy doing them. I think it’s great to learn from other women's routines and benefit from their wisdom.

A huge theme I see over and over again in these interviews is the need for women to be easier on themselves and know that they’re already doing a great job - clearly a big theme here on Where The Light Plays.

A few of the top Where I’m At interviews in 2015 were:

Shannon Ables from The Simply Luxurious Life

Vlogger Elle Lindquist

Rachel Gadiel from (the new!) Dream Create Do

And to read through all the interviews, grab a cup of tea and click here.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up posts

Considering how huge this book was in internet land in 2015, it’s no surprise you’ve enjoyed reading my personal journey through the KonMari method.

I overhauled my closet and my bookshelves and next year I’m hoping to tackle a couple of new daunting tasks - the kitchen and spare room (aka dumping ground).

Enjoy the posts here:

The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up (or How I Broke Up With 50% Of My Clothes)

The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: Book Edition

The Day I Officially Broke Up With Dieting

This was probably the most personal post I shared all year, so it’s pretty humbling to see it was so popular with you ladies.

Intuitive eating has been a huge mindset shift for me in 2015 and I’m so glad I’m not entering 2016 with the usual body shaming plan to lose weight and restrict my eating.

Yes I want to feel healthy but I can do that in a much saner way now.

If you’re struggling with your body, I highly recommend signing up for Finally Free (coaches Paige and Simi are above), the program that truly helped me ditch diets.

The Day I Officially Broke Up With Dieting

Finally Free program

My Morning Routine

Another popular post last year was the view into my daily morning routine.

I love when other bloggers post their routines so I’m glad you feel the same!

I’m planning on tweaking a few things in my mornings in 2016 so once I’ve adjusted my habits I’ll be sure to do an update on the blog.

Time Management Series: My Morning Routine

What were your favourite Where The Light Plays posts this year?

What would you like to see more of in 2016?

Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

 

Where I'm At: Interview Series - Kristyn from Creative with Kristyn

Welcome to the next interview in the 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.

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Their daily rituals, ways of managing stress and advice to you, the readers, are captured in these interviews.

In May, we have the lovely Kristyn Fedich from Creative With Kristyn. Kristyn is a teacher, author, blogger, Tone It Up lover and yogi who lives on the east coast of America.

One of the best things about these interviews is I get to reach out to inspiring women, who I know will help you ladies with your day to day lives.

Kristyn is super positive, full of great quotes, relaxing lifestyle ideas and hilarious recommendations for yoga-related fiction books (I am very tempted to unwind with the Downward Dog Mysteries series…). Kristyn was very pregnant when I interviewed her and she gave birth to a little girl just a few days ago. Congrats Kristyn! 

What is your usual wake up time?

My usual wake up time is 5:15am. Being on spring break and maternity leave has left lots more wiggle room for me, so now I’m trying to get more sleep and usually get out of bed around 6:15/6:30am.

What is your morning ritual?

Mornings are my favourite. I love starting my mornings with hot water with lemon. I do enjoy my coffee in the morning (right now I’m doing decaf with being pregnant), but starting out with hot water with lemon really makes my insides feel good! While I am waking up, I sip my water and get some reading in.

Afterwards, I also like to check in on my Stop, Breathe, Think meditation app (Ed: I recently started using this and it's my favourite meditation app thus far!) and see what the Spirit Junkie app message is for the day. I get a morning workout in as well!

Tell us about your commute.

My commute is super short. :) It’s only 25 minutes to work on back roads. I like to listen to Spotify playlists on the way to work or call my mum on her way to work too.

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

I do like to know what is going on that day (I’m very type A) but don’t mind spontaneity and adventure either. It’s the spice of life.

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

Being a teacher, you don’t really go out for lunch or do anything different. You usually have lunch in the teachers’ room with other staff members. It’s nice to chat with them.

Being on spring break and maternity leave now, I like to enjoy my lunch outside on the deck when the weather is nice and just eat slowly and take in life before our new arrival comes!

What kind of workout schedule do you adhere to?

I am a huge yogi. I miss my heated vinyasa practice so much and cannot wait to get back into it after my pregnancy. I follow the Tone It Up lifestyle and plan, so I do get a morning workout in to rev up my system, and also an afternoon workout. My workouts aren’t as intense as they usually are, but once I am cleared to work out after baby arrives, it will be back to the grind! I love a good sweat!

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How do you like to end your day?

I like to end the day with reading and tea. My husband and I like to relax on the couch with some TV programs we’ve recorded. I like to read in bed and that helps get me more tired if I’m not already there.

What time do you doze off?

Right now, I’m dozing off between 9/9:30pm. If I’m really wired, it may take until 10/10:30. I’m not going to sugar coat the fact that I like to get crawling into bed between 8:30 and 9 right now to read. I love sleeping and it is so important! I have to get my sleep in now while I can before our baby arrives. :)

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

Not gossip! I tell myself I won’t do it, and then inevitably it happens and I get sucked into a conversation that includes gossiping. I’m working on it. :)

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

Breathe. Just breathe. Breathe in the positive, exhale the negative. Breathe in peace and love, exhale fear and hate. Take time for yourself. It’s so important. A consistent yoga practice changed my life and view of the world. Breathe and try some yoga.

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

I love having a coffee shop treat after a busy day! It really brings a smile to my face (not as much so when I’m doing decaf, but still!).

This is my recipe for an iced mocha with almond milk…much cheaper than grabbing one at the local coffee place. Put that extra cash in a special “just for you” jar!

Thanks Kristyn, and good luck with the new baby!

You can find her at:

Website - www.creativewithkristyn.com

Pinterest - www.pinterest.com/kristynjoruns

Instagram - www.instagram.com/kristynjoruns

Twitter - www.twitter.com/kristynjoruns

Light Links: March

 
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How was your March lovely readers? My first thought was to say that mine was busy, but I've been reading a lot recently about how busy is some kind of proud badge we're all trying to wear.

'I work longer days than you', 'I haven't taken a lunch break in weeks', 'I check my email at 3am' ...and so on... This is definitely not me, but I don't want it to become me either. I've been very mindful to take care of myself through good food, exercise, meditation and kitten cuddles, so I don't burn out.

The weather is getting a little cooler in Melbourne which does make my motivation waver a little. I'm going to try and take advantage of future hibernation instead. I'm hoping for chats with friends on the couch, red wine and fuzzy blankets. To my northern hemisphere friends, enjoy all that spring brings!

Here are some of my favourite links from the last month:

When I have the motivation to prep for my morning the night before, things run much more smoothly. If you're not a morning person, here's some ideas on how to become one

I'm always on the look out for new gym songs and I found this '90s collection to work out too (or just listen to as a Monday motivator!) 

I'm sure I've said this before - but I love Zen Habits. Read this one about doing less, or really leaving yourself wanting more

For those struggling to see the positives at the moment - three great reminders. 

And lastly, a longer ready about how being busy is making us sick.