I felt defeated.
I had graduated college a few months earlier and moved to a new city. I had every intention of going to the gym after work every day, but things kept popping up and I felt like no matter how hard I tried, I kept missing my workouts.
A friend would text and ask me if I wanted to grab dinner.
My boss would need me to stay late on a project.
I chose to say yes to these things – I had just moved to a new city and wanted to make new friends and build trust with my boss – but I was discouraged because I really wanted to make going to the gym part of my everyday routine.
I felt stuck.
And then I had a thought:
What if I got up a little earlier to workout?
It made sense – my boss wasn't likely to email me super early and most friends didn't text me to grab a last minute breakfast.
I decided to try it.
I also made one other decision—I wouldn’t give myself the option of not working out in the morning.
I would just do it.
I figured this is how brushing my teeth worked – because I didn’t give myself the option of not brushing them, they just got brushed and I didn’t think twice about it.
Y’all, this actually did the trick.
I went from rarely working out to doing so consistently – and I no longer had the decision fatigue that came from deciding every single day whether or not to go to the gym.
So why am I telling you all of this?
I want you to see that you can be intentional about building important things into your day (aka: creating routines) – and that you can do it in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming or lead to burnout.
I feel like we often hear about the importance of having good “morning and evening routines” – but somehow we interpret this wrongly and feel like we have to construct massive routines that never actually work in real life.
(I mean, if you have time to get up, read for an hour, workout for an hour, do full makeup and hair, eat a leisurely breakfast, chat with your mom and get on the metro by 7:30am- that’s great! But I’m guessing you don’t and that’s why you’re reading this.)
Ok, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of how to be intentional with your time and create routines that don't feel like an overwhelming new list of “to-dos.”
Step One: Write down what you want to do and why it’s important to you.
Example 1: “I want to workout 5 days a week because I want to be strong for the hiking trip I’m taking this summer.”
Example 2: “I want to read more non-fiction leadership books so I understand how to grow as a leader at work.”
Writing down your why will give you the motivation you need on the days you just don’t feel like doing what you know you want to do.
(Because even when routines are part of your everyday life, there will be times you just don’t feel like them. I don’t always want to brush my teeth or wash my face – but I do it anyway because I want to avoid cavities and breakouts.)
Step Two: Choose no more than three things from this list (and choosing just one is completely fine!) and figure out how to incorporate each one in a small way into your everyday life.
For example, let’s say you want to workout, read, and pray.
Maybe you decide to wake up half an hour early, do a quick HIIT workout in your room or apartment gym, and then shower and head to work.
And then maybe you decide on a “no screen” time every night when you turn off Netflix, plug in your phone, and spend 15 minutes reading and another few minutes praying before you turn out the light.
Step Three: Test it out
Try out your new routine(s) for two weeks. You might not do them perfectly, but that’s ok. Just commit to doing your very best for two weeks and then re-evaluate.
Are you doing something you thought would be cool to do but realized you don’t really like?
Remember, routines are intended to serve you and help you be intentional with how you use your time. They help you fit in a workout or pack a healthy lunch or pay attention to your bills. But they’re not a task master – and whether or not you “do” your routines has no value on your worth as a person.
So give yourself the gift of trying them out, adjusting as you go, and figuring out what works for you in this season of your life.
Of course, if you want some help creating routines that work for you, I’d love to chat!
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