Do you ever wake up, go about your day, and then go to bed feeling like you haven’t managed to get anything done? I really used to struggle with this slightly guilty feeling that I hadn’t really accomplished anything at all because I was spending the whole day trying to keep my head afloat and getting done the things that I actually needed, or wanted, to. Through trial and error, I developed a morning and evening routine that starts my day off on the right foot and keeps me moving so I can actually be more productive and accomplish my goals for the day. Wahoo!
Productive Morning Routine
The most important part of any morning routine, as far as I’m concerned, is getting your “dailies” out of the way. Dailies are what I call the regular ol’ chores that are part and parcel of being an adult. Sometimes I wish I was a kid again… and then I remember that I wouldn’t be able to eat pie for breakfast.
Once I’ve finished this routine I can move on with my day. All of the small, simple psychological wins of my morning routine help me to be more productive during the day by getting the majority of the little things done and out of the way. Yay! Successful adulting!
Having all of these little things done just makes the whole day feel like it has opened up and that it’s possible to get done the really important tasks that will make me reach my goals.
1) Make Your Bed
There’s something about having your bed made that just makes you feel good. Getting this first small chore out of the way gives you a boost and helps you feel pumped to tackle more of the tasks heading your way. Hurray for little wins, right off the bat! You don’t have to make your bed perfectly, no bouncing coins off your blankets or military corners, just put the pillows back in place and straighten the sheets and blankets. It takes me mayyybe about 2 minutes to do and that’s while holding the baby in one arm. Without the baby, it takes me like 30 seconds.
2) Drink Water
Enjoy a big glass of cold water when you first get into the kitchen. You can drink it while your coffee brews or tea steeps. Most people don’t drink enough water and it is so important to stay hydrated. Drink just one glass before you enjoy your diuretic of choice.
3) Clear Your Mind
What’s bugging you? Write down all of the things that are on your mind. I take a sheet of paper every morning and just write out everything that’s floating around in my head. Getting it out and onto paper helps me focus and think about what I really need to do today. Which leads us onto #4…
4) Make Your To-Do List
Based on the list you made on #3, what can you do to today to knock out some of the stuff that’s been on your mind? You want a short, concise list with specific actions that you can follow through on, not a long list with a zillion things that need to get done. To be truly productive you need to get the important things done, not every little thing that comes your way.
I make my to-do list in two columns and write “Dailies:” as the heading for one of the columns. Under my “Dailies” column I write out the tasks that I do each day, some of which are part of these 10 steps. These are the things that I do over and over again on a regular basis.
Example (this is part of my actual list):
- Read for 5 minutes
The other column, which I don’t write a heading for, is my list of one-off tasks. Basically the tasks or steps I need to do today that likely won’t be recurring. If they do recur, it isn’t very frequently. I like to do a 1-3-5 list, which is where you write down 1 big task, 3 medium tasks, and 5 little tasks. Again, make sure these are important things, not busywork. Being productive is about reaching your goals, not filling your time.
Example (this is part of my actual list):
- Clean stroller
- Cut pieces for Blazing Star quilt block
- Finish this blog post 😉
- Plan + organize biz for 30 minutes
- Create 3 month editorial calendar
5) What’s For Dinner?
Have a plan for what you’re going to eat for dinner. If an ingredient needs to be defrosted you’d better take it out now. I’ve simplified our eating and no longer bother with meal planning. Essentially I decide on the protein, grain/starch, and veggie and then decide on a seasoning/sauce. Darling, that’s what they call easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy.
- Protein: Shrimp
- Grain/Starch: Angel Hair Pasta
- Veggie(s): Broccoli (on the side) and Shredded Zucchini (with the pasta)
- Seasoning/Sauce: Garlic, Herb, and Butter
6) Stretch and Meditate
Some gentle stretching and quiet time to meditate will help you focus your mind and prep your body for the day. I like to do a 20-minute yoga wake up routine. You can find some good ones on YouTube. I typically keep the baby right beside me when I do my yoga – he loves being tickled by my hair when I do Cat Cow Pose.
For meditation, I recommend a guided morning meditation that takes you through visualization and affirmations. Again, you can find these on YouTube. I like to spend about 10 minutes on this.
7) Read A Little
Spend a few minutes reading a page or two of a good book or an interesting article. Do NOT turn on your phone or computer for this step. You want this to ideally to be on real paper. Don’t have any real books around? Join the library, you heathen!
8) Unload the Dishwasher
Put away the dishes that are in the dishwasher. During the day dishes can be loaded into the dishwasher as they are dirtied. Train your spouse and kids to put their dishes into the dishwasher after meals, not into the sink. Trust me, this is a game changer.
9) Get Dressed and Ready
Moms who leave the home to work might scoff, but for those of us who stay at home the struggle to actually change out of our pjs is real. Take the time to get dressed, brush your teeth and hair, and even put on some makeup (if that’s your thing). I never feel truly prepared for the day until I have my clothes on, my teeth brushed, my hair in my usual sloppy bun, and a little bit of makeup (concealer, lip gloss, and mascara, if you’re wondering).
10) Daily Chore Routine
Each day I have a particular set of household chores that I focus on. Batching my cleaning means I spend less time cleaning. I don’t know about you, but less time cleaning is awesome!
Productive Evening Routine
Each evening before going to bed take a little time to work through these steps for a calmer, less rushed morning and a better night’s sleep.
1) Pick Out Your Clothes
What are you going to wear tomorrow? Not your pajamas or your birthday suit, of course! Lay out your own clothes for the next day; if you have kiddos you can help them pick out theirs too. You should also take this time to select your jewelry and accessories, if you wear them.
2) Bathe or Shower
Unless you’re one of those people whose hair does really awful things if it isn’t tended to right after it’s washed, take your shower or bath in the evening. Washing before bed helps remove stress and is, of course, very relaxing. Plus, you’ll never leave the house on a busy morning regretting that you missed your shower.
3) Prep Breakfast
Overnight oats, anyone? Each evening, prep the ingredients for your breakfast so you don’t have to think too hard before your caffeine kicks in. I really do make overnight oats a lot of the time. It’s simply equal parts oatmeal, yogurt, and milk stirred together and put in the fridge overnight to soak. Optional add-ins are nuts, fruit, seeds, nut butters, spices, etc.
4) Spend Quality Time With Family
Set the electronics aside and spend some time with your loved ones. Go out for a walk, play a game, color a picture, or do a craft. Whatever you do together, enjoy the time with each other and away from your phone (or tablet, or computer, or tv). Your relationships are the most productive things that you can ever work on.
5) Read A Little More
Who doesn’t like to climb into bed and snuggle in the covers with a good book? This is your time to really dive into your book and get some serious reading done. This is when my (almost always) totally uninterrupted reading time occurs and I typically enjoy my book until I can barely keep my eyes open.