“Fall down seven times, get up eight.”
Remember those days in kindergarten when your day was brimming with consistency? You knew the day began with Circle Time, followed by Center Time, then Recess and Snack. With each day you anticipated what was expected and you worked hard at each activity. Having a schedule helps us be more productive with our time and energized in our efforts. There are many ways to implement structure in our day.
Routines, structure or patterns
“Pattern Planning” is a system recommend by Doctors John Ratey and Ned Hallowell in the book, ADD Friendly Ways to Organize by Judith Kohlberg and Kathleen Nadeau. Begin with the baby steps of your big goals and then create a pattern for the day with these. This includes a regular wake up time, breakfast, exercise, morning and afternoon work times, dinner preparation and bedtime routine for the evening. This simplified pattern includes all aspects of your life.
- For families, this is especially important in creating a positive beginning and end to the day. Decide what is most important and then add the steps to incorporate this. Decide what time you need to be out the door, and work backwards allowing plenty of time to get ready and add 10 extra minutes just in case! Create organization around the structure of the day, including a “landing strip” to place and grab back packs to head out the door. An evening routine adds time for homework, pick up, and bedtime routines.
- For work creating a structure to your week keeps you productive. If you assign a major theme to each day, you are sure to keep each goal moving forward. If you assign administrative tasks to the same time each day, you keep these from building up.
Does consistency lead to boredom?
Add fun to the routines with a new dimension such as music, variety, or partnering.
- Add music with a play list or a pandora station just for that routine.
- Add variety in the way you go about the routine, starting and ending with the same task or alternating the start and finish.
- Create different partnerships for your routine. It may be different people, a class or a timer that are your start and stop mechanisms.
- Make it fun and wacky!
It is important to remember that “structure” is not about rigidity, it is about consistency. The pattern should be followed more frequently than not because the schedule honors your priorities rather than your distractions.
Writing out your perfect routine
Get started by writing out your “perfect” schedule in a grid, allowing for appropriate time to do each step. There is power in writing. There’s power in a check list. Block in times with an arrow for your activities. Post it in a place you will see it regularly and use a timer to help you remember.
Your perfect routine may revolve around one activity being the puzzle piece. That center puzzle piece can make the difference. That’s when other activities fall into place because you have accomplished one task first. If you read, meditate or exercise first in the morning, your other routines may work better as a result. If you do your first Most Important Task early in the day, the rest of the day works better.
Add a bit to your existing routine
One of the most successful ways to create a routine is to add a new routine to an existing routine. You may think you have no routines. However there is always something small you can build on. If you want to do more exercise as a routine, add it on by going to a gym on the way home. If you want to build in better nutrition habit, add in one item to your existing grocery run. Just adding in one small change to an existing routine makes it easier to find success.
A routine adds efficiency and effectiveness to our day by helping us focus on a specific activity. But more importantly, consistency makes for peace of mind and positive energy and of course we all want that!
More ideas on productivity here on my newsletter!