A Soothing Routine – The Key To Success

 

One of the most underestimated productivity tools is implementing a routine.

I know, this sounds boring. I can guess what you’re thinking already – another routine post. I wish people would stop talking about routines.

Sorry to say it, but there is a reason that everyone is preaching about routines these days. I resisted routine and structure for the majority of my life. I just did whatever I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to do it. You know, living life on the edge. Looking back, though, my life was chaotic and I wasn’t really making any progress towards what I wanted in life – I was a bit of a lost cause.

Maybe I’m just getting old (I’m staring down 30 in a few weeks, the panic is about to set in any day now), but I have come to appreciate the value of solid routines. Once I started implementing routines, things started to fall into place. Just like magic, people!

Why Are Routines Important?

 

1. You Know What To Expect

Once you fall into a routine, you begin to learn what you can accomplish in a specific amount of time. Let’s say your evening routine is eating dinner, clean the house, walk the dogs and study/write. After a while, you know that dinner takes you 40 minutes to prepare and eat. You know that maybe it takes you about 20 minutes to tidy up, then you take the dogs for a walk for about an hour, and then you’re good to study for two hours. You are able to better plan your life when you know what is going to happen.

 

 

2. People Know What To Expect From You

When you have an established routine, the people around you take notice. They know that at 6pm on Thursdays you run. They know that there isn’t much point to try to contact you at 8:00pm because you’re working on your hustle. When they know that you are set into your routines and have habits that you won’t stray from, they become less likely to demand your time during those periods. This is important because friends and families can often become distractions. It is so much easier to say “screw it” and go out to dinner and drinks with your friends, or meet up for a family event, or hang out with your partner instead of doing something you have to work at. When you’re focused, you’re focused and things are good. If you’re stalled, if you’re struggling with your goals for some reason, having a distraction is a great way to procrastinate. Those are the times you need to be putting your all into it, not finding reasons to escape.

 

 

3. They’re Soothing

When you’re having a crappy day and things just aren’t going right, having a routine is very soothing. An evening routine is especially important for this. It feels so good to come home at the end of the day, stop doing what other people expect from you, and just do your own thing. It is nice to relax, but it also feels so good to be able to pound away at your goals in your own time. I find that spending a day doing things for other people just motivates me to come home and go full force at working on my blog because it is my “thing” and this is what I want to be successful with.

 

 

4. You’re In Control

Personal routines really put you in control of your own life. Really, that’s what we’re all after, right? We want to be in control of what happens to us. We want to make our own decisions in life. We don’t want outside influences telling us what to do. Your routines are your one chance during the day to say “I’m going to do what I want to do, exactly how I want to do it”. Nothing feels better than that, trust me.

 

 

 

How To Make A Routine

 

 

 

1. Decide What Matters To You

Figure out exactly what it is that is the most important to you. Do you want to relax? Do you want to spend time alone? Do you want to get work done? Identify these things and go forward from there. It is vital that you form your routine around these core elements. For example, if your goal for your morning routine is to have a calm morning, make sure you incorporate whatever activities are going to make you feel that way, and then time breakfast, getting ready, etc around that one idea. If your goal is to get up and exercise or write, then you need to make that the focus of your routine and go from there.

 

 

2. Write It Out

Yes, you need to write it out. Saying your going to do something doesn’t mean you’re going to do it. Writing it out will give you a better chance. Make sure that you have enough time to do everything. Be realistic. Don’t try to cram things in your morning routine and then end up late for work or dropping the kids off. Ensure that you have enough time, and if you don’t, then either change your routine or change your timing. This may mean you have to wake up earlier or go to bed later. Sometimes you just have to make more hours in the day. Whatever you do, make sure you are doing things that are actually attainable. If you know you aren’t a morning person, and you’re just starting to establish a routine, then stating that all of a sudden you are going to wake up at 5am is most likely going to fail. If you normally go to bed at 10:30pm and you all of a sudden decide you’re going to stay up until 1am, that might not work too well either. The goal is to be healthy and productive and to take small steps to reach your goal, not go all in at once and potentially set yourself up for failure.

 

 

3. Inform Other People

This is especially crucial if you live with other people. If you live with your spouse, all of a sudden your alarm going off earlier in the morning probably isn’t going to be the best way to wake up. If you’re used to crashing on the couch watching tv all night and now you’ve decided you’re going to start going to the gym in the evenings, this is something they need to be told about. My general rule of thumb is that if your actions are going to impact their routine, then involve them in the discussion. It is vital that you get the support you need at home because as I stated earlier, family and friends are big time distractions. If you are worried about taking your evenings away from “couple time”, implement a schedule that also includes spending time with them. Please note that I said involve them in the discussion, not the decision. You need to make the decision to work towards your own goals on your own. You can have joint goals, but having someone negatively influence your plans is going to hold you back. Decide what you need, inform and ask for support. You’re looking to do this because you want to be better as an individual.

 

 

 

The Evening Routine To Get Your Life Together – Fast!

Evening Routine

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page for more information*

If there has been one habit that has really helped me pull my life together, it has been an evening routine. Most people credit their morning routines as their life altering holy grail. Really, for me, it has been establishing set routines and habits in the evening to prepare for the next day.

And really, what better time to start an evening routine than Fall? Imagine this: you come home on a chilly day, plant yourself on the couch with a blanket, a glass of wine/cup of tea, a fireplace (I hope you all share my excessive enthusiasm about fireplaces. And tea.) and all of the things you need to make your life great? Is there any better place to be curled up with a book, listening or a podcast or planning your week? No? Right. Didn’t think so.

The evening routine is critical because it is really the preparation and building block of your next day. You already can’t do anything to change what has happened today, but you can certainly pick yourself up and make sure that tomorrow is great.

So what should you include in your evening routine?

Prep for the next day

This is really the absolute most important thing to include, and it needs to be done before you start sipping back that glass of wine we talked about earlier. Everything else that you choose to do is totally optional except this. If you don’t prepare for the next day, you are going to be running late, life is going to be chaotic, and you’re going to end up on this downward spiral that is going to ruin your mindset for the whole day. You can’t meet goals like that.

First off, prepare your food for the day. Whether you have to leave the house early to head out to work or you know you’re going to be home looking after kids all day, prepare your food. Decide what you’re going to have for each meal and do what you can to prepare. This is going to be key to having a productive day. You’re going to make sure you have a great breakfast that is going to help fuel you through the day. Your lunch is going to be balanced and you’re going to be super pumped that you made good choices, which will then spill into other areas of your life. Once dinner time comes, there is no stress! Defrost something if necessary, prep vegetables to go in a slow cooker in the morning, make sure your lunch is packed…I know you have this all figured out, and your day is going to be so much better for it.

Figure out your clothing situation. Pick out your clothes for the next day, and everyone else’s too if you have any little humans that are dependent on you. The time to look for socks is not 5 minutes before you leave the door, only to find they’re all wet in the washer because you forgot to switch clothes over to the dryer (can you tell I’ve been here before?). Choose your clothes, lay it out, make sure everything is clean.

If you’re someone who heads to the gym, where is your stuff? Do you have your bag packed? No? Well, you probably aren’t going to end up going. Go pack your bag and put it somewhere you know you won’t forget it.

Next: Where are your keys? Where is your purse? Where is your wallet? These are the things that are going to slow you down in the morning. Make sure you know where this stuff is!

Also, clean. Tidy up whatever you can. There is a purpose behind this: if you come out of your bedroom tomorrow morning and everything is a mess, how is that going to make you feel? For me, there is literally nothing worse than coming down the steps and seeing undone dishes or crap lying around the house. It’ll take you just a few minutes, do it now.

Plan for the next day

Alright, you made it through the basics. Time to settle in with your blankets and drinks. Break out the planner and the pretty pens. I use my Day Designer because it gives me the ultimate control over my day. I can choose my top tasks for the day, form a to-do list, menu plan and write out a daily schedule, hour by hour. It is so easy to time block in the Day Designer. I love it, you guys.

Spend some time figuring out exactly what needs to be done tomorrow. Write in the things that are absolutely necessary to be done, and write in the things that are non-negotiable for you to have a good day tomorrow. For me, I need to make sure that I plan in time for blogging and making this place awesome for you guys. Whatever your goals are, make a top three and write them down. Hold yourself accountable.

Personal Development

I find that reading books that motivate me towards meeting my goals are good to throw in here. I don’t often have time to read or listen to podcasts throughout the day, so this is prime time for some personal development. You don’t have to put limits on this. If you want to read 10 pages, read ten pages. If you have an hour to spare, go for it. This is a great time of day to invest in yourself and your well being.

Get In Your Head

I won’t say meditate, because I know that the idea of meditation turns some people off. I will say, though, that it is super important to take some time by yourself to think. You need to set goals and you need to figure out plans. You need to process what has happened to you during the day. You need to tell off the people that you never told off during the day (Anyone else do this? No? Just me, then.) So whatever you want to call it, take that time to get all those thoughts out of your head so that they aren’t running into tomorrow. Those thoughts need to stay on this day.

Do Something Fun

Do something that you enjoy. This is your time for self-care. This is the time of the day that is set aside specifically for you. You’ve done a lot for other people during the day and now is the time to give back to you. Watch some Netflix, scroll through Instagram, spend time with your partner.

So there you have it, an evening routine. It may take a while to figure out what works for you, but I can promise that it will work for you. My life became exponentially better when I implemented just these few things every single night.

Twelve Week Productivity Plan + Free Printable

Productivity

One of the most important parts of being able to consistently meet your goals is to make sure you have an overall productivity plan in place. I do like to make a rough plan for an entire year at a time, but what I find most effective is a quarterly plan.

Yes, I plan out 90 days of my life at a time.

I do this for several reasons. First, it is only 12 weeks. 12 weeks is a long enough chunk of time to realize if something is working for you or if it isn’t. If it isn’t working, no big deal. Let it go, and move on with the next 12 weeks of your life. On the other hand, if something is really working for you, 12 weeks can be life changing.

A lot of people are doing 12 week plans right now and for good reason. They are single handedly the very best way to go from goal to done in a short amount of time. You have specific tasks and you know exactly what needs to be done. There is no “hmm, I wonder what I should do today”. When you get ready to do work, you can start already in a focused mindset. No time wasted.

The amazing thing about 90 day plans is that you can use them for anything. They’re really great if you’re using them to create a business plan, but they’re also incredible for personal goals. Household management, fitness and nutrition, anything you can ever dream of can be worked into this 90 day plan!

Everyone makes these plans a little differently. Here is my process:

Start At The End:

The very first thing I do is write out my end goal. You have to know what you want and go after it. The whole point is to break the entire process into itty bitty easy steps over the twelve weeks. By doing this, you are getting rid of overwhelm. Schedule in reverse order, going over each step that needs to be done to ensure you aren’t forgetting anything.

Break It Down:

The next thing I do is identify four main things that need to happen in order for me to reach my end goal. I choose four because each month now has a theme or main point that I am spending time working on. These are large steps that will take a while to complete.

Get Smaller Again:

So now that I have my four goals, I need to break this down again. This is where my monthly plan is going to come into place and where we get into the nitty gritty. Each month needs to be broken down into actionable tasks. We’re going to come up with four actionable tasks for each month. So for example, if I need to work on preparing an e-mail optin for this site, my steps may be to market research, create content, set up Convertkit and promote.

Daily Tasks:

Once you get your weekly goals in place, you then break these down into itty bitty tiny mini tasks. You need to know exactly what you are going to do each day when you sit down at your desk (or hit the gym, or whatever.) Every single task is helping you get one step closer to meeting your goals. So for each of these weekly tasks, make a list of smaller tasks that need to happen in order for your weekly goal to be met.

Get Your Planner

Go to your monthly view. On each day that you have designed for work, write out what tasks you need to do. Every task that you had earlier under weekly tasks must be written in. Nothing can be left out. Every task must have its place!

Schedule a Catch-up Day

Schedule a day biweekly to catch up on anything you’ve fallen behind on. You are giving yourself a buffer zone in case life goes off the rails or one task take so longer than you think it will. This is essential because it prevents losing motivation if you go off schedule. You also don’t end up with a pile of work to do on one day which can get overwhelming.

If this is getting a little confusing, no worries! I’ve got your back! I’ve created a 90 Day Plan printable planner to help get you started. This is the exact planner that I use myself and I want to share it with you. Cheers to a hyper productive 90 days!

 

How To Be Ultra Productive – Time Blocking

productive

 

For a very long time, I was really, really bad at being productive. I mean, horrible. The most terrible.

I could never be consistent. No matter how much I wanted to get stuff done and improve my life, no matter how many planners I used or how many goals I set for myself, I continued to fail at it. For a long time, I could never figure this out. People around me were doing kick ass things, crushing goals, creating businesses, working their dream jobs. I felt no matter how hard I tried, I could never get out of the hole I was digging for myself. I couldn’t even manage to make it until lunch time on day one without going off track.

That was until I discovered time blocking. This is hands down the most important method for keeping me ahead of the game. Life doesn’t tell me what to do anymore. I go to bed at night knowing that I made progress towards the person I want to be. I don’t go to bed anymore beating myself up because I let myself down. Again.

How do you time block, you ask?

You literally block off your time. Complicated, I know.

Multi-tasking has been my demise. We’ve all been there. You sit down to do something productive, and then you notice that your desk needs to be cleared off. In the process of clearing your desk, you bring things to the kitchen and realize the dishwasher needs to be loaded. Repeat, repeat, repeat until you are using the time that you should be getting shit done, to finish other things that weren’t on your to-do list for that day. What did you get accomplished? A little bit of everything, but a whole lot of nothing. Your house is probably still half messy and you didn’t get the work done that you set out to do. Awesome.

Time blocking eliminates this. There is a time allotted for everything so that you can focus on one task at a time and fully complete the task.

productive

 

In order to time block efficiently, I get a weekly calendar.

First, I write in things that absolutely have to be done, and I block time for them. So for example, I know that in order to be productive, I need to keep my space at a manageable level so I don’t lose my mind. So the first thing I do is write in cleaning. I do this when my kids are eating breakfast. Throw in a load of laundry, clean the kitchen, do any meal prep that needs to be done (hello slow cooker!) and generally start our day off strong.

Second, I absolutely know that there is no time during the day that I am going to be able to work on this blog. At all. It will not happen. So I put that first thing in the morning before the kids get up. I put my most thinking intensive tasks first thing in the morning (like writing posts) so that I’m not trying to do it when I’m exhausted at the end of the night.

Next, I know I want to dedicate my day to actually spending time with my kids. They have been known to go a little wild if I’m trying to do one hundred things at once. Life is better when I can focus all of my energy directly on them. This is why I put cleaning first. I know if I don’t get it done in the morning, I’m going to be trying to do bits and pieces of it and our whole day is going to be chaos.

Finally, I put in work again in the evening. Everyone is gone to bed, hopefully we’ve had a good day, and I can get a few more hours work in before bed. Normally I do things like schedule social media and edit images at this time.

I have also blocked off a night time routine because I feel this is my self care time and is absolutely necessary for good mental health. I schedule this because I don’t want to skip it.

All in all, this seems like a very simple concept. Maybe this is nothing new to you. I just know that time blocking eliminates the multitasking and I actually get things done start to finish. I can check things off my to-do list left, right and center. Nothing feels better than going to bed knowing you kept a promise to yourself!

I actually go further than this.

I actually time block my days and solid weeks for different tasks. I will share that with you in a future post!

Do you time block? Have you noticed a difference in your productivity?

 

 

 

Saving Money – How I Saved $1000 In One Month

saving-money

 

One of the most challenging aspects of personal development is saving money. It is so hard to feel like you can move on and develop into the person you want to be when you’re struggling with money. Saving money is a learned skill, and no matter how much money you have, if you don’t manage it properly, you’re going to run into problems.

We bought a house last year. We love it, it’s exactly what we were looking for. It is an old, solid home on lots of land that we can turn into a modern homestead style property. It has tons of bedrooms and comes with the impeccable detail that 75 year old homes are known for. They just don’t make them like this anymore. It needed upgrades, but we knowingly took this on.

Unfortunately, we had an emergency electrical problem happen over this spring that was very unexpected. When we bought the house, we had everything inspected and were told that the house was electrically sound. Turns out that is not the case (and deserves a whole other angry blog post…).

We had to come up with cash quick (Read: thousands and thousands of dollars) out of nowhere to deal with this issue. Our entire house had to be rewired. It didn’t help one single bit at all that I was on maternity leave (only 55% of my income!) and we had just had a new baby three weeks before. Needless to say, we didn’t have tons of money laying around at that moment.

It gets better, however. We then needed to find an alternate heating source before September. So we are on a tight crunch to start saving money – a few thousand dollars to get this installed before the cold hits.

This seemed like a daunting task and there were lots of days where we weren’t sure that we could even pull this off. After already shelling out so much money, we were already living on bare minimum.

Saving Money – We set a goal to save $1000 as fast as possible. This is how we did it:

Meal Plans:

I probably should have been doing this anyway, but I seriously crunched down on our grocery budget. We didn’t have a lot of wiggle room in our budget after putting out so much money so recently, so this was really the only place we could make any cuts. I always make a general meal plan before grocery shopping but once I hit the store I usually put extra things in my cart.

This time, I wrote out every single meal for the week. I didn’t write a “Monday-Sunday” schedule, I wrote a Day 1 – 7 schedule, which gave me freedom to pick which daily menu I wanted to choose. I made a grocery list from this meal plan and then doubled it so we were good for two weeks. I am proud to say I did not step one single toe outside of line. Before, when I would buy groceries, we were constantly needing to refresh our groceries. This time, all we needed to refresh was bananas and milk! No random trips to the grocery store meant less opportunity to put things in our cart. We had what we had and that was it. We saved significantly this way.

Spending Freeze:

One thing we really had no choice but to do was implement a spending freeze. We spent nothing. Zilch. No coffees, no takeout, no buying extra groceries, no online shopping, nothing. We were totally and completely frozen. This is an excellent way to save quickly, especially if you aren’t already someone who has a strict budget in place. You would be surprised how much money is literally slipping through your fingers and you don’t even know it. It also really opened my eyes to what is a necessity and what is a want.

Free Events:

It is summer and of course that generally means extra money spent on road trips and activities. We decided to stick close to home this month and take in free events. There are tons of options, especially this time of year. Free concerts in the park, theater shows, events hosted by our city. We still had plenty to do and we live in a fairly small place. If you check it out, there are probably endless opportunities in a larger area.

Recoup Costs:

We were owed a bit of money. Unsubmitted expense sheet here, borrowed money not paid back there. Overall, we were able to recoup some of this and add to our goal!

Coming up with $1000 is tough, but it isn’t impossible. We are doing this on the slimmest of budgets after our emergency electrical work. If we can curb spending and magically come up with $1k in one month, anyone can  make strides towards their financial goals.

Now, to do it all over again. And again. It’s a good thing we like our house.

What are your best tips for saving money quickly?

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