I am not big on mornings, but I am big on routines. So, I do have a general daily routine that I like to stick with, even though what happens between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. for my day job can totally run the gamut.
I’m going to share my ideal daily routine (meaning the way my day goes when everything goes according to plan) and also a few tips for setting and sticking to your own.
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Between 7:45 a.m. and 8 a.m., my alarm goes off. Here’s my confession: I could sleep 5 hours or 15 hours, and I would still struggle to wake up when my alarm goes off. My alarms actually start at 7:30 a.m. and ring every five minutes until 7:45 a.m., then another at 8 a.m. I am embarrassing.
I get up and have a very basic routine. First thing’s first, I get dressed. (I shower at night most of the time, and don’t wash my hair more than every 3-4 days.)
My personal care routine is very simple: contact lenses, dry shampoo if I need it, witch hazel on my face, deodorant, brush teeth, done. I like to add lipstick and mascara when I feel like it, but my eyes have been easily irritated lately, so I skip makeup completely.
Then I take Theo out. We don’t walk for very long – usually right around the building so he can do his business. If I know Patrick will be spending most of his day away, I’ll walk Theo for longer, but otherwise, it’s a quick in-and-out.
Once we’re upstairs, I feed Theo his breakfast and fill his water bowl (we use the Primo water dispenser with pet bowl, which we love!). I make sure my lunch box is ready to go, kiss Patrick goodbye and roll out the door. Ideally, I leave the house by 8:30 a.m., give or take a few minutes. If I’m not out by 8:40 a.m., I know I’m going to be late.
On the way to work, I stop at Dunkin’ Donuts usually 3-4 days out of the week for my usual: a medium coffee, cream and coconut-caramel swirl. (When they have it, anyway. When the Girl Scouts swirl is out-of-season, I just do plain caramel and it isn’t as good.) I usually get iced coffee, but lately, it’s been around 30 degrees in the mornings, so I get hot instead.
I aim to be at work by 9 a.m. Most days I get pretty close. I park in a deck a block away from my office, so I park, pay for parking and head to the office.
My breakfast is usually two egg muffins that I make in bulk and freeze, so I microwave those as soon as I get in and catch up with my boss while I wait. Then I eat my breakfast, drink my coffee and make my to do list for the first chunk of my day, while checking out any emails that have come in first thing.
I’m at work from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. most days, although sometimes we have evening meetings that we stay around for. I eat lunch around noon and eat a snack every two hours between breakfast, lunch and when I leave to go home.
I leave work around 5 p.m. and head home. It takes me about 20 minutes to get to work every day, and anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to get home in the evening. Drives me nuts.
Usually, I’ll stop and check the mail before I come home. Once I walk in the door and fend off Theo, I tackle a few things right away:
- Go through the mail.
- Empty my lunch box.
- Feed Theo dinner.
We try to take Theo for a walk between when I get home and when we eat dinner, although when the temperatures are below freezing, we skip the walk.
I cook dinner anywhere between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., depending on mine and Patrick’s days and how hungry we are. (We both don’t eat very much.) I spend the time I’m not cooking on my computer finishing up work from the day, preparing for tomorrow or working on blog tasks that I need to knock out.
Once we eat dinner, I tend to spend the rest of my evening reading, writing or watching TV with Patrick, although sometimes I will stay on my laptop until bedtime. (I’m writing this post as we speak at 10:47 p.m., after all.)
I’m in bed by 11 p.m. 99 percent of the time. I love sleep and live for climbing into bed. Sometimes, I’ll bring a book with me and read for about 30 minutes, but ideally, I go straight to bed and fall asleep within minutes.
how to stick to a routine
1. Be flexible.
Instead of giving yourself a strict schedule for when things need to get done, I recommend time ranges, i.e., I will wake up between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m. every day. Or I will walk the dog between when I get home and when we eat dinner.
2. Make a list of what you want to achieve every day.
To master a routine, know what you want to walk away having done each day. That’s more than picking out your clothes for the next day or packing your lunch. If you want to read 30 minutes every day, include that on your list so you know to budget 30 minutes for reading.
3. Set boundaries.
Reasonable work life-home life boundaries look different to everyone, but decide where your lines are and stick to them. This will help you stick to a routine in the long term.
If you constantly relent to answering work emails at 10 p.m. when you wanted to be reading or winding down for the night, you will struggle to stick to your routine.
4. You can’t be everything.
You can’t be both a morning person and a night owl. When you set a routine for yourself, remember that you are amazing and capable of many things, but you are not a robot.
Factor in time for rest, and relaxation, and taking care of yourself.