Do you keep falling off the wagon with your routines? Here are 10 great tips to help you stick to a routine and crush it!
Don’t you hate it when you have these grand plans of establishing some idyllic routine to make your life better and then… well, life happens? Me too. It’s quite frustrating, isn’t it? Why can’t your routine just roll along smoothly and your life be better already? I mean, COME ON!!!
My friend, our best laid out plans and routines fall subject to “life” every day. So in this post, I’m giving you ten great tips to help you stick to a routine and ensure that when life does happen, you’ll be ready. Shall we dig in?
Top tips to help you stick to a routine
1. Create an ideal week
Give your routine the best chance for success by providing it space in the garden of your life. I don’t know if you’re a gardener-type or not. But I hope this analogy will help.
When a gardener wants to put a new crop or plant in their garden, they first need to decide where the plant will grow. Where will it thrive best? Does it like to be in full sunshine? Does it need shade? What other companion plants will benefit this plant and help it to grow stronger? But the gardener also needs to make a space for that plant if, for example, the garden borders are already brimming full with lots of other plants.
I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. Before you begin trying to implement a new routine in your life, ask yourself whether this routine is something that requires your intense focus and attention, whether it will be done in the morning or the night. And if your life is already full of lots of other activities (which it may well be), what needs to come out or be uprooted, so that this new routine can be given space to thrive and grow?
Creating an Ideal Week, therefore, is one of the best places to start when beginning to implement a new routine in your life. Ensure that you have space in your week to do your routine. What commitments or activities need to be cleared away so that you have room for your routine?
Did you know that WonderMum subscribers can get our Ideal Week download free? Check it out here:
2. Work hard, play hard
If you find that it’s hard to stick to a routine because your focus is constantly waning, it could be that you need a break. I’m not saying a break from your routine. I mean a break in general.
You may be a high-achiever type who’s always ‘Go! Go! Go!’ and doesn’t let up until you collapse on your bed at night, half undressed, one hand hanging off the bed, the other hand clutching your phone whilst your snore with spittle dribbling down your chin.
If that sounds like you, I can relate. (Notice how detailed and accurate my description was just now?) 😆
Your routine might be falling off the wagon continually because you haven’t given yourself permission to play hard.
Listen, we need to play.
Not just in the Bordeaux-fuelled-charades-by-the-fireplace kind of play (although there’s nothing wrong with that – send me an invite and I’ll be there!). I mean we all need to detach ourselves from work and spend time in activities which refresh, rejuvenate and refuel us. When we do, we can get back to our work with a mind that has a clearer focus and sharpness. We’ll be able to knock our tasks out faster because our brain has been rebooted so to speak.
When our brains know that there’s a dedicated time to play and rejuvenate coming up, it can work on the task at hand without whining about never getting a break!
3. Use a timer
This kind of follows on from my point above. You may have heard of Parkinson’s Law, that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Sweetie, its. a. Law.
If you don’t set a time limit on a task that needs to get done, it’s quite likely to spill out into your day. And when something that you thought would only take 20 minutes ends up taking 2 hours, how likely do you think it is that you’ll keep that up?
Also, the great thing about using a timer is that you’ll actually know (fuh realzies) how long a task takes to complete. This is valuable information. When you know how long something actually takes, you can better plan for it in your Ideal Week (point #1) and you can legitimately tell your brain when it can have some downtime. Because, let’s face it, getting a new routine installed can take up quite a lot of mental focus which can be exhausting on our brains.
4. Get clarity
When you have clarity on what it is that you need to do, it’s a thousand times easier to complete the task. Let’s say that your routine involves tidying the kitchen before bed. It’s important to know what “tidy” or “clean” means for you. Will you wipe down all the counters, ensuring that you lift up any small appliances and storage jars? Or is a wipe down of the available counter space sufficient? Will you mop the floor or just sweep it or do neither?
Do you see where this is going? Without a clear vision of what the end result is, it’s hard to know when you’ve done the task. And if you don’t know whether the task is done and you can check it off, it can lead to you feeling overwhelmed or frustrated.
Ask yourself, ‘What does “done” look like with this task or routine?’. No one is judging where you set the bar for yourself, but you do need to set the bar somewhere. Otherwise you’ll find it hard to make yourself stick to your routine.
5. Connect with your reason
Connecting with the reason why you want to stick to your routine is important because it helps you to push through those difficult times where your motivation is lacking.
At some point you’re gonna hit a period where your routine is either boring and has lost it’s feeling of novelty or when you’re just plain tired and the thought of doing XYZ feels like someone has just asked you to climb Mount Everest after you finished running a marathon!
Make a list of three to five reasons why it’s important or, dare I say it, imperative that you stick to your routine. What will you gain from completing your routine over time? What’s at stake if you don’t?
6. Manage your energy
Ever tried long-distance running on no sleep, food, or water? Me neither. But my guess is that we wouldn’t get very far!
Installing a new routine is a bit like long distance running. At the start, you’re all pumped up and excited to get going. Then you hit a period where you just need to maintain momentum, the novelty has worn off and the essence of what you’re made of is beginning to show. Whether you fuelled up, hydrated and slept well is now of crucial importance.
The same is true of your routine. Ensuring that you sleep well, fuel your body well and hydrate are all highly important to keeping your mind focused and your body energised throughout the day so that you can do the tasks that face you.
If you manage your energy well, you’ll be able to tackle the day’s tasks and then some! So what do you need to prioritise in order to manage your energy well? Sleep, nutrition, hydration, and rejuvenation.
I make a plan for these things in my day and my week during my Weekly Review. These are things that should have priority when designing your Ideal Week. I even have recurring alarms on my phone (playing the song Agua De Beber) to remind me to drink water! Plus a reminder to prepare for bedtime in the evening. I plan meals and periods for rejuvenation once a week.
Is there anything you can do to ensure that you get enough rest, water and eat well during the week?
7. Limit distractions
This list is not in order of importance. If it were, this would probably be like #2 after creating your Ideal Week!
I recommend reading those posts for ideas on what to do to limit distractions as this will help you to stick to a routine. Just know that if you’re continually distracted, the chances of you completing your routine, or repeatedly completing your routine is very slim indeed.
Distractions need to be conquered for your best chance of success.
8. Reward yourself
My friend, the proverbial carrot on the end of a stick works! When you announce to yourself that you’ll get a jaw-dropping reward for completing your routine a set number of times, days, or weeks, you work harder to make sure that you get that sweet carrot, baby!
I highly recommend writing down a reward for yourself and putting it somewhere you’ll see it often. Maybe print off a picture of that thing to give you an even more visual reminder. Place it somewhere you’ll see it every day. This will spur you on and help you to stick to a routine because you can see what victory means for you. Whether that’s a new pair of trainers, a manicure, or an item off your Amazon wish list!
Keep that carrot visible and you’ve got a powerful incentive to stick to your routine!
9. Track your actions
There’s a story about a budding young comedian who attended a Jerry Seinfeld show and after the performance managed to get backstage and talk with the famed comedian. The young man asked Jerry if he could give him any tips on becoming successful at comedy and Seinfeld told him to write one joke a day. He continued to explain that he should get a calendar to put on his wall and mark off each day he wrote a new joke with an ‘X’. He said that pretty soon, he would find that he would have a series of X’s and it would then be more about not missing a day.
Seinfeld was essentially telling the young comedian to build a habit out of making new jokes. In order to become good at something, you’ve got to do it habitually.
Habits aren’t easy to form as you may already know. But the process of tracking your actions makes it a lot more likely for you to succeed. This is because you pay attention to what you track.
If you’ve ever been in a tight spot financially, you’ll know that you’re more on top of your spending when you track what’s being spent every day. It’s not likely you’ll blow all your money at the pub when you’re more aware of where each and every penny is going (and needs to go).
So if your routine requires you to form a regular habit of any kind, track it! Make sure you grab our free Habit Maker resource below. It’s designed to help you stay focused on your habit, remove obstacles, and motivate you to stay the course. Check it out here:
10. Create momentum
Momentum fuels motivation. If you’re having trouble sticking with your routine because it feels a bit like you’re carrying a boulder up a hill, then you probably are!
You don’t want the boulder-up-a-hill feeling, you want the snowball-down-the-mountain feeling. There’s a big difference. And that difference is in how you start.
If you start your routine with a big task, one that requires a lot from you mentally or physically, you’ll be carrying that boulder up a hill.
If, instead, you begin your routine with something small and easily manageable, something you could do even if you’re weren’t feeling well, you’ll be able to get it done and create momentum for your routine. This has the effect of getting you into motion and you’ll find that it feels more like the snowball effect.
It’s like what happens when you just casually toss a candy wrapper on your desk into the bin. And then you see that a few pens are not in the drawer so you put those away. Before you know it, you’ve cleared your desk off, polished your computer screen, and arranged a wildflower bouquet scented with homemade lavender mist on the corner of your desk!
Just saying. 🤷♀️
It all started with an itty-bitty candy wrapper!
Start small, gain momentum and you’ll give your routine a greater chance of success.
So there you have it! Ten tips to help you stick to a routine so that when life does happen, you’ll be ready! Which tip did you find the most helpful? Or which one gave you an “Ah-ha!” moment? Let me know in the comments.
And don’t forget to grab the free resources I’ve mentioned in this post, the Ideal Week and the Habit Maker. Here’s to your success! 🥂