4 Key Areas of an Organized Home for Families with ADHD

4 key areas of an organized home for families with adhd

 

Creating and maintaining an organized living space for families with ADHD is key to peace of mind. Areas to help with organization and execution are a landing strip, command center, dedicated home office, and quiet space. Each area helps you focus, prioritize, and work effectively on your family’s needs.  These key areas are important for storage too.

Landing Strip:

A landing strip is a designated area near the entrance of your home where essential items like keys, wallets, and bags can be placed upon entry. It serves as a quick and organized drop-off point and jumping-off spot for you and your family.

  • Install hooks or shelves for items that need to be hung or stored.
  • Use a bench with baskets for each person’s shoes.
  • Routinely declutter each season to keep it fresh and ready to use.

Command Center and Central Charging Station:

A command center and central charging station are the spot for paper and technology. Place this spot in a high-traffic area like the kitchen for maximum effectiveness.

  • Consider creating a centralized hub for organizing schedules, to-do lists, and important information.
  • Set up a charging station for electronic devices to avoid scattered chargers.
  • Use a bulletin board or digital organizer for reminders and calendars.
  • Routinely meet together with a family meeting to update your events and activities. Have weekly administrative time to work on the actions that are part of family living like paying bills, creating to-do lists, and managing meal prep.

Dedicated Home Office:

A dedicated home office provides a focused and organized space for work, study, or hobbies. Your family can work together in this space for homework while you catch up on email, pay files, or sort paper.

  • Have ample desks or seating for multiple users in this space. Working as body doubles you will be more productive.
  • Choose a space with a window or add additional lighting.
  • Utilize organizers like desktop trays and cable management solutions.
  • Employ vertical storage like bookcases with decorative bins for storing crafts and office supplies.
  • Routinely reset this space by clearing flat surfaces.

Quiet Spot – Reading Nook:

Individuals can get overwhelmed and overstimulated by too much noise, energy, or movement. Create a quiet spot or reading nook to recharge and promote mental clarity.

  • Use comfortable cushions or a chair.
  • Include soft lighting and calming decor.
  • Add bookshelves for storage. Use magazine baskets or sorters for reading material.
  • Routinely refresh this room with flowers or add a diffuser for a soft scent.

Creating and maintaining an organized living space for families with ADHD transforms our homes into havens of order and tranquility. These four most important areas make a positive impact on living life as a family with ADHD.

 

 

 

Simplify Tax Preparation

simplify tax preparation

 

Tax season often brings a sense of dread and confusion for many individuals. The myriad of forms, deductions, and deadlines can be overwhelming. With a simple, step-by-step approach to preparation and organization, your task will be less stressful and less time-consuming. Here are some practical tips and strategies to streamline the tax preparation process.

Start planning with a calendar

Tax season is officially in progress. There are two deadlines, the April deadline and the October deadline. If you know yourself to be a procrastinator, set your deadline. That deadline should be earlier rather than later.  Tax forms and information have been coming in since January, so set a deadline of April 1. Reward yourself for getting this done sooner rather than later.

Gather personal information

Create a document you can use each year with basic information, including Social Security numbers and employer information, for each person on your return. Create a folder on your personal computer with this information or have a red folder for this information on paper.

Tax preparation in action

The best way to manage a big project is to manage it in chunks. Tax preparation is best done in multiple steps. In the best case, you can choose two segments for your preparation or you can choose many one-hour time blocks to complete taxes.

  • Write your two (2) time blocks on your calendar to hold the time for this work and give you accountability to do this.
  • Use a checklist from reputable sources or your tax preparer. This way you know the specific information to include. This may include income statements (W-2s, 1099s), investment statements, mortgage interest statements, property tax records, charitable contribution receipts, and any other documentation related to your finances. Create a designated folder or digital file to keep everything in one place, making it easier to access when needed.
  • There are many strategies to work in manageable chunks for tax preparation.
    • Gather your tax documents by category of income or deduction. For income, you might need to access your payroll account online or in your online accounts for retirement, savings, banking, or credit union. For deductions (expenses) you can find these in medical portals, mailed paper statements, and emails.
    • Segment your work by finding documents in the mail and finding documents online.
    • Work on individual categories of deduction one at a time, such as charity or medical.
    • Review your checking accounts, bank statements, and credit card receipts in separate time blocks to gather information.
  • Once you have completed the preparation steps, be ready to answer questions on your documentation and finalize the return. Ensuring correct information keeps your tax return from being delayed.

Shortcuts to make tax preparation easier

This year tax preparation might have been more difficult than you like. Here are some ways to improve your system.

  • Keep track of documents as they arrive. Have one folder to place these documents.
  • Use Genius Scan to document all your paper receipts. This free app helps you create a PDF of any documents and categorize receipts. Creating a digital copy helps you keep track of the document.
  • Automate taxes being withheld to be sure you are paying in an amount that will match what you owe. Use a W-4 form with your employer or pay quarterly estimated taxes each year.
  • Seek assistance. You can utilize tax preparation software, such as TurboTax, H&R Block, or TaxAct. Bookkeepers and CPAs are an asset in helping you know all the right answers and supporting you as you work on your taxes.
  • Life transitions are happening more than ever. Be sure to keep up with the tax solutions as a result.

 

By following these steps and utilizing available resources, you can simplify the process of completing your tax return. Give yourself a big reward when your taxes are complete and plan ahead for next year!

 

How to Streamline Your Digital Life for Spring

spring clean your digital life

 

Spring is the perfect time to not only clean out our physical spaces but also to declutter our digital lives. From overflowing email inboxes to disorganized files on our devices, digital clutter can add unnecessary stress and hinder productivity. Here are five practical ways to help you streamline your digital workspace and create a more efficient and clutter-free environment.

 

Assess, prioritize, and plan

The first step in digital decluttering is to assess your current digital landscape. Evaluate the organization of your devices, apps, and digital accounts and identify which areas are causing the most clutter.  Prioritize the organizing process based on urgency and importance. Are your email inboxes overflowing? Is your desktop cluttered with files? Make a list of the areas that need the most attention to guide your decluttering process. Create a plan and assign time blocks to move this project forward.

 

Declutter Your Email Inbox

An overflowing inbox can be overwhelming and make it difficult to find important messages. Start by unsubscribing from newsletters and promotional emails you no longer read or need. You may want to add a second email for shopping and promotional information. Next, create folders or labels to categorize your emails and archive or delete messages that are no longer relevant. Create a sustainable system that works with the way you think and use your computer.

 

Organize Your Digital Files

Just like physical clutter, digital clutter can accumulate quickly if left unchecked. Start by decluttering and organizing your files on your computer, cloud storage, and other devices. Add to your folder structure to improve organization and move files into their appropriate folders. Delete duplicate files, old documents, and anything else you no longer need.

 

Streamline Your Devices and Apps

Do you have apps on your phone or computer that you never use? Are there unnecessary widgets cluttering your desktop or home screen? Declutter and streamline your devices by uninstalling unused apps, organizing your home screen or desktop, and removing unnecessary shortcuts or widgets. Consider organizing your apps into folders or categories to make them easier to find and access.

 

Check for digital safety

Update your passwords with an online password manager. Cyber threats are some of the most dangerous. Keep safe with passwords that include initials of unusual phrases and of 8-10 characters in length. Check out these other ways to keep cyber safe too. Be sure you are enabling multi-factor authorization and backing up each day.

 

Keep your spring digital organizing momentum going. Schedule regular digital decluttering sessions to review and delete old files, unsubscribe from unwanted emails, and organize new documents and messages. Set reminders and use task management apps to help you stay on track with your digital maintenance routine. Decluttering your digital space not only reduces stress but also improves productivity and focus.

It’s Leap Day! How will you spend your extra 24 hours?

It's leap day

 

 

Every four years, we are gifted an extra day—a day that magically appears on our calendars. Known as Leap Day, this is the extra 24 hours we have always wished for and presents a special opportunity to seize the day and make the most of our time. Since Leap Day falls on a Thursday, it would be as easy to use this day as any other Thursday. Take today to step away from everyday thinking and make it a different kind of Thursday.

 

Plan

One way to make Leap Day remarkable is to take this opportunity to dream big and plan long-term goals to set into motion throughout leap year. Whether it’s starting a new project, embarking on a spontaneous adventure, or trying out a new hobby, be imaginative and go just a little out of your comfort zone. This is a rare opportunity to step outside of our comfort zones and dare to dream bigger than ever before. Instead of simply going through the motions of daily routines, use this extra day to envision the kind of life you truly desire.

Unplug

In today’s fast-paced world, we’re constantly bombarded with distractions that take us out of the present moment. Leap Day presents the perfect opportunity to unplug from technology, disconnect from the noise of everyday life, and reconnect with yourself and the world around you. Turn off your phone, step away from your computer, and take some time to be fully present and engaged in the here and now. If not all the whole day, try this after hours and into the evening.

Connect

Leap Day is also a wonderful opportunity to connect with others and strengthen your relationships. Reach out to friends or family members by text or phone, schedule a coffee date with a colleague, or organize a future get-together.  Take advantage of this extra day to cultivate meaningful connections with those around you. Engage in deep conversations, listen attentively to others, and show genuine interest in their lives. Whether it’s sharing your dreams and aspirations or offering a listening ear to someone in need, make the most of this opportunity to foster authentic connections and create bonds that transcend time.

Ramp up the “Extra”

Finally, embrace the theme of “extra” to propel our Leap Day experience to new heights. Take an extra-long walk in nature, indulge in some extra self-care, or dedicate extra time to a project you’ve been working on throughout February. Treat yourself to some well-deserved self-care by taking time for activities that nourish your whole self. Set aside extra time for a relaxing bath, practice mindfulness meditation, or pamper yourself with a healthy dinner at home. Prioritize activities that help you unwind, recharge, and replenish your energy levels to feel refreshed and rejuvenated.  Embrace the theme of “extra” in everything you do, and approach the day with a sense of excitement, enthusiasm, and adventure. After all, Leap Day only comes around once every four years, so let’s make it count!

 

As we embark on this once-in-four-year adventure, let’s embrace Leap Day as a gift to yourself. Whether you choose to plan something exciting, unplug and reconnect, or simply add a little extra sparkle to your day, seize this opportunity to break away from the ordinary and make Leap Day a day to remember and use time throughout the day with intention.

 

 

Transform Your Well-Being: The Power of Self-Care Apps

transform the power of self care with apps

 

We live life at a fast pace, a pace that requires a high level of self-care. With everyone’s busy schedules, finding time and resources to invest in our well-being can be difficult. Thankfully, the technology has brought into existence a revolutionary solution: self-care apps. These digital options offer a variety of benefits that can elevate your self-care routine.

Accessibility at Your Fingertips

One of the most significant advantages of self-care apps is their accessibility. No matter where you are or what time it is, you can access a variety of wellness resources right from your smartphone. You might need a quick meditation session during your lunch break or guidance on improving your sleep hygiene before bed, these apps are available whenever you need them, empowering you to prioritize self-care amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life.

 

Personalized Support Tailored to You

One-size-fits-all wellness advice has given way to customized approaches to self-care. Self-care apps leverage the power of technology to offer personalized support tailored to your unique needs and preferences. Through algorithms and user input, these apps can curate customized recommendations and interventions designed to address your specific goals and challenges. Whether you’re focusing on managing stress, improving your fitness, or cultivating mindfulness, these apps can adapt to your journey, providing guidance every step of the way.

 

Engagement and Accountability

Staying motivated and accountable to our self-care goals can be a struggle at times. This is where self-care apps truly make a difference. Many of these platforms incorporate gamification elements, such as progress tracking, achievement badges, and social features, to enhance user engagement and motivation. By transforming self-care activities into interactive and rewarding experiences, these apps inspire you to stay committed to your well-being journey and celebrate your progress along the way.

 

Community and Connection

Self-care is not just about individual practices—it’s also about fostering connections and support networks. Many self-care apps offer built-in communities where you can connect with like-minded individuals, share your experiences, and offer encouragement to one another. Whether you’re seeking advice, inspiration, or simply a sense of belonging, these communities provide a supportive environment where you can thrive and grow alongside others on similar paths.

 

Holistic Wellness

Last but not least, self-care apps empower you to take a holistic approach to your well-being, addressing not only your physical health but also your mental, emotional, and social wellness. From guided meditations and fitness tracking to mood journaling and gratitude exercises, these apps encompass a wide range of tools and resources to support your overall wellness journey. By nurturing all aspects of your health, these apps help you cultivate resilience, self-awareness, and a profound sense of fulfillment in your life.

 

There are numerous apps available to support self-care across various aspects of physical and mental well-being. Here are some popular ones that cater to different aspects of self-care:

  • Headspace:
    • Purpose: Meditation and mindfulness.
    • Features: Guided meditations, sleep exercises, and mindfulness practices.
  • Calm:
    • Purpose: Stress reduction and relaxation.
    • Features: Guided meditations, sleep stories, calming music, and breathing exercises.
  • MyFitnessPal:
    • Purpose: Physical health and nutrition tracking.
    • Features: Food diary, exercise tracking, and a supportive community.
  • Sleep Cycle:
    • Purpose: Improved sleep quality.
    • Features: Smart alarm clock, sleep tracking, and analysis of sleep patterns.
  • Daylio:
    • Purpose: Mood and journal tracking.
    • Features: Daily mood logging, journaling, and insights into emotional patterns.
  • Happify:
    • Purpose: Emotional well-being and stress reduction.
    • Features: Activities and games designed to boost happiness and resilience.
  • Finch Self-Care:
    • Purpose: Mental well-being and self-care management.
    • Features: Mood tracking, self-care activities, journaling, and community support.

Remember that everyone engages with apps differently and the use and effectiveness of these apps can vary from person to person, and it’s essential to choose the ones that resonate with you and your needs. Some apps offer free versions with optional premium features or subscription plans for a more comprehensive experience. Always check the app store for the latest reviews and updates.

 

Do you have a favorite app for your self-care?

Calm the Family Chaos with Effective Systems to Stay Organized During Busy Times

calm the chaos

 

 

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy for families to feel overwhelmed by hectic schedules, piles of responsibilities, and the constant juggling of tasks and priorities. But staying organized during these busy times is crucial for maintaining harmony and well-being for everyone in the household.

The good news is that with a few simple and practical systems, you can help your family navigate the chaos, foster a sense of order and balance, and work together as a team.

 

Your Family’s Centralized Command Center

The foundation for staying organized is a centralized family calendar. This can be a physical wall calendar in the kitchen or a shared digital calendar. The key is to have a central hub that everyone in the family can access and easily update. Use different colors or codes for each family member’s commitments, making it easy to identify who is doing what and when.

Daily Check-Ins for a Connected Family

Research shows the importance of daily check-ins and one-on-one connections with everyone in your family. Establishing a routine for these touchpoints can make a big difference. Spend a few minutes each evening before bedtime with each person to discuss the next day and get organized. This provides an opportunity to prepare for the next day, ensure everyone is on the same page, and delegate tasks accordingly. It also fosters communication and strengthens the bonds within the family.

 

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

During busy times, it’s essential to spread the load and share tasks and responsibilities among family members. Don’t let parents shoulder all the burden. View this as a learning opportunity for kids to develop essential life skills. Create and post a chore chart that clearly outlines who is responsible for which tasks and when. This not only lightens the load for one individual but also instills the concept of teamwork and accountability in everyone.

 

Mealtime Magic Without the Mayhem

Mealtime can be a major source of stress during busy periods. But there are many ways to simplify the process. Try incorporating some semi-homemade meals into your weekly menu and designate specific days for grocery shopping. Consider batch cooking and freezing meals in advance to make meal planning and cooking easier. You can even plan a “meal planning and grocery ordering day” where you take care of all the planning and ordering in one go, and then focus on prepping the next day. For those evenings when you’re pressed for time, many families are opting for pre-made meals where everyone can choose what they want for dinner. The key is to have a plan in place, so everyone knows what to expect and mealtimes are fun rather than stressful.

 

Self-Care: The Secret Ingredient for a Balanced Family

Amidst the hustle and bustle, it’s crucial to prioritize time for everyone to recharge and practice self-care. Schedule downtime, starting with Sunday as a day to be at home and unwind in the afternoon. Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it’s reading a book, watching a movie, taking a nature walk, or simply enjoying a quiet evening at home. Balancing productivity with self-care is essential for maintaining overall well-being. And don’t forget the importance of setting a bedtime so that everyone gets a good night’s rest.

 

 

Remember, staying organized during busy times requires a bit of effort and the implementation of effective systems. By establishing clear communication channels, utilizing tools to streamline processes, and prioritizing self-care, families can navigate through hectic periods with greater ease and resilience. If you falter along the way, don’t worry – just fall back on your system or tweak it for improvement. The goal is not just to survive the chaos but to thrive as a cohesive and organized family unit.

Turn from Cold and Dark to Sunny and Warm: Finding Support in Winter Days

finding support in winter days

 

Dark, cold, snowy, and rainy weather can take a toll on our emotional well-being during the Winter. Add to that the anxiety you feel as our world has become chaotic. Winter can be an emotionally challenging season for many.  As a certified professional organizer who specializes in working with ADHD clients, I’m here to help you navigate this Winter with strategies to find joy, stay organized, offer support, and have meaningful conversations that nourish your soul.

 

Start with your space

Create a cozy and organized space in your home. Start by decluttering your surroundings which can reduce distractions and those being of being overwhelmed. Donate or pack away items that are no longer needed, and focus on keeping your space neat and organized. A well-organized environment can provide a sense of calm and control, reducing stress and anxiety. Take time each day to create the order you want in your home.

 

Build routines that support you

Establish routines that support you. With ADHD, establishing systems and setting realistic goals is essential for maintaining mental health during the winter. Think of systems that work best with your personal style, especially systems that rely on only the slightest of energy. Break your tasks into smaller, manageable steps, and use tools like to-do lists, calendars, and reminders to keep track of your progress. Systems for meal prep and laundry support you in accomplishing daily tasks, creating order in your space, and helping your mental well-being.

Connect with others

Embrace what you love about the season with others. Winter is a time for meaningful conversations while inside. Plan gatherings with friends and family to share experiences and time together. At the same time, remember that comparison is the thief of joy. Be the person who builds others up, empowers others to take appropriate risks, and cheers others on their paths. Stave off perfectionism with realistic conversations with others about productivity and ownership. Celebrate your own and everyone’s successes. At the same time, approach those things that are not working as failures but rather as opportunities to do something different even though change is hard.

 

Embrace nature

Research shows the importance of vitamin D with natural sunlight for mental health and sleep hygiene. Keep your time outdoors brief and brisk with quick walks. Admire the beauty of freshly covered snowy landscapes. Stay inside and start a new exercise class with yoga or pilates. if you have the means, take a trip to a sunny warm climate for a short time away. Nature has a calming effect and can help you clear your mind and be present.

 

Practice self-care

Acknowledging and recognizing anxiety is the first step for self-care. It is important to know when to reset, slow down, and up your level of self-care. Consider coordinating yoga and pilates in your daily routine. These practices elevate your sense of well-being. Self-care can look like being sure to go to the doctor as needed, exercising, hydrating, eating healthy, and setting aside time to do what you love. Building a bigger team to help with your home and family is as much self-care as anything else. That includes your coach, therapist, doctor, certified professional organizer, cleaning person, and any other support.

 

A warm Winter embrace is here for you. By organizing your space, setting realistic goals, connecting with nature, having meaningful conversations, and practicing self-care, you can feel joy, be at peace, and have mental well-being during the cold months. With the right strategies and a positive mindset, you can make winter a season of happiness.

7 Ideas for Non-Traditional Planners

7 ideas for non-traditional planners

 

Many times a traditional planner or organizer does not meet your needs. It is too hard to add information, too cumbersome to carry with you, and too hard to pull up information. Thank you to my friends and colleagues on social media who have shared a multitude of non-traditional ways to keep on top of information, routines, and dates.

 

  • After serious reflection (I’m a traditional planner girl), the best non-traditional management system I have are my dogs. Milo and Wilson tell me what time to wake up, when to feed them when to go outside, when to vacuum, and when to go to bed.

 

  • We sit down and go over “what’s coming up” and then put it on a weekly dry-erase board for my son with ADHD. We write any activities, appts, quizzes/tests/project due dates, practices/games, etc on there every Sunday for the upcoming week. We have a bulletin board where we pin any notices, permission slips, etc that might need to be returned somewhere on a given date. He’s going into 8th grade and this has really helped him stay on track and be more independent during the week with his responsibilities. We also use the Cozi app as a family and that not only helps us with reminders but allows all of us to see what other family members have going on that may affect our own schedules or our combined family schedule. My daughter also has ADHD but she prefers a traditional paper planner for her personal use (as do I). She is also a huge Post-it note user! Lol, She even wrote about it in part of her college application essay.

 

  • Alexa. I can say “add whatever to whatever list” from anywhere in the house while thinking about it. If I had to stop and manually add it I would forget what I was doing when the idea popped in my head to add whatever to the list.

 

  • When my three kids were little, I made a big board that had “this week” and “next week” columns. It was wet erase and magnetic. Each child had a different color pen and it gave a two-week snapshot. (The normal agenda kept all dates to be written on board)

 

  • My husband and I use small index cards to remind us of various things plus one in the kitchen for grocery needs.

 

  • My husband and I use “Any List” app on our phone for our grocery shopping list. I can add something and it shows up on both of our phones, etc. We started this because sometimes we would each stop at the grocery to pick something up and end up with duplicates. I haven’t tried it yet, but evidently, you can “send your list” to Kroger, H‑E‑B, Walmart, etc. for online shopping. We even have a “Galveston” list for groceries, etc. we need there. It is a fabulous app!

 

  • My world is 90% digital when it comes to planning, lists, and notes……except when it comes to groceries and meals. It’s all here, on the refrigerator. This is where my kids can see it too. They know what dinner will be (and who is cooking it! They’re 15 and 18 and make dinner sometimes!). They can add their grocery and personal care needs to our lists anytime (one for everyday groceries, one for the big box store where we stock up). They know what to do, they know the system. They even know what we get at the regular grocery store and what we prefer to buy at Costco. They help me compare prices at our 2 stores to find the best (ever-changing) prices on our favorite items, I’ve taught them this practice since they were very young. We keep most of our recipes digital and I text specific recipes to whatever kid is making that specific meal so they have that information at their fingertips. We work as a team to meal plan weekly.

 

While these are not your traditional planner or organizer, you can definitely see how effective these are! There are so many ways to track your tasks and keep up with dates.

Drowning in Paper Clutter? Join us! Virtual Paper Clutter Workshop and Support Group

virtual workshop and clutter support group

 

Drowning in Paper Clutter!  I have got you covered!

Navigating the challenges of paper clutter is a task we all face and can be quite overwhelming. Determining what to keep, understanding how long to retain it, and efficiently managing incoming paper without feeling inundated can be a real puzzle. Together we will explore how to create a system for managing paper every week that works for you.

 

Join us in February for Professional-Organizer.com’s Virtual Paper Clutter Workshop and Support Group. This fee-based group is the starting point for creating solutions for your paper clutter.

Learn valuable skills and take the first steps in decluttering your papers.

  • Explore effective strategies to triage your papers, master the art of categorization, and create efficient paperwork systems. We’ll also explore options for moving towards digital files.
  • Tackle the challenge of managing paperwork with new, manageable approaches. Together we will break this chore into bite-sized pieces, making the process simpler and easier.
  • Dive in together with support during our Zoom session to take the first steps toward a more organized and stress-free paper life.

About Ellen

For over 20 years, working as a Certified Professional Organizer, Ellen has helped people make time and space for what’s important to them. Always supportive and calm, Ellen empowers those who are struggling to make a difference with baby steps in their challenges.

How we work together

  • Our group meets for three 90-minute weekly sessions to learn paper management skills and get support for organizing your papers. We will meet in a small group setting by logging onto Zoom on your device.
  • The meeting dates are Monday, February 12, 19, and 26 of 2024.
  • Meeting times are 6:30 – 8 pm central time.
  • No need to purchase products. I will share recommendations that you may already own or can easily purchase to finalize your paperwork process. There are a variety of options that can work for you.
  • The cost is $150 for the three sessions. Payments by Credit card, Zelle or Venmo.
  • Group size is limited. Join today!

 

Email  Ellen today at edelap@professional-organizer.com to register.

Register by February 5, 2024.

6 Strategies to Help You Build Routines That You May Not Have Used Before

6 strategies to build routines

 

Creating and maintaining routines can be crucial for stability and productivity. Non-traditional methods to establish and sustain routines involve approaches that might be less structured but highly effective. Variety builds interest and sustains the habit as a result.  Building routines in a non-traditional way involves creating structures and processes that are innovative, flexible, and tailored to individual needs.

 

Use Environmental Cues

Create cues in your environment to trigger specific actions. For instance, leaving your workout clothes by the bed can prompt you to exercise in the morning. Placing a book on your pillow can signal that it’s time to read before sleep. Pick one habit you want to continue or begin and place a visual cue at the spot where this routine occurs.

 

Incorporate Variety Within Structure

While routines provide structure, they don’t have to be as repetitive and boring as you might think. Incorporate variety by rotating tasks or adding an element of choice within the routine. This prevents boredom and keeps things fresh while maintaining consistency. You can use this strategy with healthy eating, by eating an apple one day and a pear the next. Both have positive health values and give you options for healthy eating. Slight variations prompt you to keep the structure with interest.

 

Gamification of Systems

Utilize elements of games or challenges to structure routines. Introduce points, rewards, or levels within the system to motivate and engage users. This can make tasks more enjoyable and incentivize productivity.  Create a point system and assign points for achieving certain milestones. For instance, you might award yourself points for each mile or kilometer completed, with bonus points for consistency (e.g., extra points for walking every day in a week). You define the levels and rewards linked to the action. Your rewards might look like this.

    • Level 1 (50 points): Reward yourself with a relaxing bath or your favorite treat.
    • Level 2 (100 points): Purchase a new workout outfit or equipment.
    • Level 3 (200 points): Plan a fun outing or a weekend adventure.

Use a tracking system such as an app, a physical chart, or a spreadsheet to log and see your points and progression. Make it visible and easily accessible so you can easily log data and see progress.

 

Visual Mind Mapping or Flowcharts

Use visual tools like mind maps or flowcharts to design systems. Visual representations make routines that are complex processes easier to understand and follow. This non-linear and creative way helps you plan, initiate, and follow through on routines. Examples of these charts are simple charts or drawings that represent glasses of water to drink throughout the day. For instance, draw eight glasses, each representing an 8 oz serving. Hang this chart on your refrigerator or place it in a visible area where you spend most of your time. Or choose a habit tracker app to help you stay on track. Your smartwatch will also help you with reminders and visuals.

 

Two-Minute Rule

Popularized by James Clear, the two-minute rule suggests starting habits with a small, two-minute version of the behavior. This approach makes the habit easy to start, which can lead to a higher probability of completing it. It’s based on the idea that getting started is often the biggest hurdle. Following the Two-Minute Rule, you would start with a much smaller and manageable version of this habit. Instead of aiming to read for an hour before bed, you commit to just “reading one page of a book.” By reducing the habit to a tiny version that can be completed within two minutes (reading one page), you’re more likely to get started. The idea is that once you start and get over that initial hump, you’re more likely to continue reading beyond that single page. Often, the hardest part is beginning, and the Two-Minute Rule helps overcome that initial resistance.

 

Continuous Improvement and Iteration

Continuous improvement builds on the success you are feeling in sustaining a routine. You are continuously iterating and refining your systems and habits. Adopt a mindset that focuses on small, incremental improvements rather than aiming for major changes all at once. You incrementally add to your routine with a small addition to that task. An example of this is after a few weeks of consistently walking for 15 minutes, you notice it’s becoming easier. To continually improve, you decide to add five more minutes to your walk. Now, you’re walking for 20 minutes daily.

 

Choosing a non-traditional strategy for routines helps you build momentum and enthusiasm for routines that have become less interesting. Each of these routine building strategies will help you create systems that work for you.