3 Tips for Getting Back Into A Routine

posted by Andrea | 08/29/2012
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I’ve been enjoying our lazy summer days with Dave home and lots of very short to-do lists.

But now that he’s back in school (well, he officially starts next week Tuesday) I think it’s about time for me to get back into a working routine as well.

Of course it’s somewhat difficult to have a very structured routine since Nora seems to have an aversion to structure and routine — but for my own sanity, I need to have some sort of daily and weekly routine. Plus, I know it will benefit Nora as well (even if things don’t always go as planned).

As you gear up for another school year, another busy fall, another holiday season, and all the other many things on your calendar, here are three simple tips that have helped me get back into a routine… and I’m hoping they will help me this year too.

1. Start Slow

OK, so sometimes this isn’t possible, but if you’re like us and coming from a pretty lazy summer, it’s probably not the best idea to go from lazy days to super structured overnight — especially if you have children. Start by going to bed 30 minutes earlier and waking up 30 minutes earlier. Or start by implementing a few scheduled morning activities but then reverting back to a more go-with-the flow afternoon.

Then slowly continue to add more structure to each day until you’re where you want/need to be. Trying to implement too many things at once is a sure-fire way to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and burnt-out.

2. Schedule Your Fun Activities Too

So often, we are super structured with our “have-to-do” list and we never take the time to schedule anything from our “want-to-do” list. If you’re finding it hard to get back into a routine, consider actually scheduling a few fun activities from your “want-to-do” list into your daily and weekly routine.

For example, you might hate to exercise, but if you schedule your exercise time about an hour before you need to pick your kids up from school, you could walk the mall for a half hour and then shop for the second half hour.

Another idea (that works well for kids) is to schedule the “have-to-do” items in the morning, and then the “want-do-to” items in the afternoon. However, the trick is that even if you don’t finish all of your have-to-do items, you should still make some time for the want-to-do items. Not only is this a good incentive,  it’s also a great way to practice balance (something I’m still learning!)

3. Just Do It!

OK, so this might not be the advice you want to hear… but, as with so many things in life, I often have to force myself to get started. Then, once I start, it just gets easier and easier to continue going, especially if I build momentum.

I detest procrastination… and even though there are definitely times when I let myself procrastinate, I’m so much happier (and more productive) if I just force myself to get started, do what I don’t want to do, and then move on.

I know you know this… but it never hurts to hear it one more time, right?

Here are a few of the things I hope to implement over the next few weeks.

  • A more regular exercise routine — even if it’s just walking with Nora outside
  • Earlier bed time {this obviously depends on Nora… but we can always hope!}
  • Earlier wake time — hinged on an earlier bed time
  • More organized meal plans {somewhat difficult due to our lack of a kitchen, but I was a total slacker this summer}
  • Less TV
  • Slowly working through some deep-cleaning each week

I could go on… but I’ll take my advice and “start slow”! 

Do you have any other tips for getting back on a routine?

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  1. Jessica


    This is great motivation. Though my kids aren’t in school yet….But those long summer days and activities made it easy to slip out of my routine. But I’m ready to restructure it now. Somehow I’ve have acquired some horrible sleeping habits…staying up late and waking up early = tired and easily irritable.
    If I don’t have an agenda for the day I will, without a doubt, wait until the last minute to get stuff done (hence the staying up late) but I’ve learned that if I schedule my “down time” I don’t feel like I’m being lazy and wasting precious time, because it’s planned 🙂

    Thanks for the motivation!!


  2. Patty@homemakersdaily.com


    Good tips. The only thing I would add is to be sure your routine is realistic. You’ve got to include time for eating, sleeping, resting. For me, I know I’m going to take a break at 3:00 to read for about half an hour. So I may as well plan for it.


  3. Living So Abundantly


    Every season of life I find my routine changing, and that’s okay! I keep to my simple acrostic: DONE..Devotions, One-a-day(vitamin, which is now a prenatal), Nutrition, Exercise. That is what my day is focused around, and then I go from them depending on what’s going on. 🙂


  4. Jenny C.


    Andrea, I’m looking for advice: any tips on how to make myself more of a morning person besides going to bed earlier (how to get up earlier & be productive rather than a zombie!!!). Maybe I’m doomed to never be a morning person, but just thought I’d ask in case you had any ideas to try. Thanks!


  5. evelyn


    My kiddos aren’t school-age yet, so I don’t know how feasible this is, but I will try to keep some semblance of the regular life routine all year long, not just in the school year. I think that there is something comforting for all of us (especially the little ones) in daily routines. I guess I’m saying that the easiest way to get back into a routine is to not fall out of it in the first place. But that’s from the girl who hasn’t experienced sending the kids off on the yellow bus yet. 🙂

    Btw, totally second baby wise. We are big fans; both our littles slept all the way through the night by 12 weeks!


  6. Katie


    I cannot recommend highly enough the book “Baby Wise” for your next baby. 🙂 It is all about having your baby on a schedule and it worked for me and my brother’s children too. I think it’s the type of thing that can be taken to the extreme but if you don’t do that it works great! I thrive on routine too!


  7. kate


    Edit: “wedding to shop for”


  8. kate


    I feel less stressed when I”m organized. I feel like i’m 10x more productive when i have only a little time to accomplish something rather than a lot of time. It forces productivity because there’s no time to procrastinate. So If I know i only have a small time frame to work out- i get it done because it’s the only opportunity. OR if I have a wedding and i’m busy 4 nights- i get it done that Monday because the rest of the week is full. etc. etc. etc.
    I actually look forward to fall for many many many reasons, but a stricter schedule is really high on that list of reasons.


  9. Lynn O.


    I need this information! I have had a hard time lately getting myself back into my routine. I will continue reading and getting motivation! Thank you.


  10. Deni


    I am so much more productive with routine and schedules. Our kids went back to school this week and I have been focusing on deep cleaning and organizing one room at a time after I tidy the house in the morning. I’ve completed 2 rooms so far and feel great that I’m accomplishing something!