Why You Need a Morning & Evening Routine

Do you feel boxed in and limited when it comes to setting a routine?  Do you feel like a child again being told what to do when you're a responsible adult whose been paying her own bills and running her own life and hasn't fallen off a cliff yet?  Do you think you don't need a morning or evening routine?

Yeah I didn't either.  But I've got more questions for you -

Are you thinking about your goals more than you are acting on them?  Are you feeling stressed at work or after work or on the weekends knowing that there are looming deadlines but you're too tired to act on them?  Are you hitting the snooze multiple times?  Have you given up on doing somethings that you used to love because either you don't have the time or you wish you could but you just don't want to? 

You may need a routine, honey.
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Now I'm not in the routine of calling people honey but I am here to tell you that you 100% need to set up some sort of morning & evening routine to make sure you're not answering yes to all of those questions in that third paragraph.  Morning and evening routines have changed my life - I feel less stressed, I feel more on top of things, I have a little bit more discipline.....over all I don't feel like a stressed out couch potato coasting through life on lunch time naps navigating laundry mountains & piles of dishes.  The things I want done are getting done and the things that can take a back burner are there, no longer stressing me out.

At the beginning of this year, I shared this post asking the question What does your best self look like?  My best self has showed up for me as long as I've showed up for her.  Creating a morning & evening routine help me to be my best self because it gives me discipline, makes me prepared for the day, and over all reduces the load I'm carrying daily.  

Reasons you need routine in your day:

Set Yourself Up For Success

If you create a routine that fits your life - I'm not here to tell you what to do, I'm just here to help - you'll find you don't have to make unnecessary decisions through the day.  In the morning, the first thing I see as I take Sweetie out to go potty is the kitchen sink.  If it is full of dirty dishes I immediately think 'dang I should put those guys in the dishwasher'.  So now I'm thinking about a chore I need to do and I've shifted my focus from the current day to what I should have done last night.  Then I'll have to make the decision as to whether I'll put the dishes in the dishwasher.  If I had set myself up for success the night before.....I wouldn't be at this crossroads!  We all have something like that which annoys us yet we don't really want to do in that moment and this distracts us from what we need to get done now.  

Part of setting yourself up for success means knowing yourself.  You know your annoyances - like dirty dishes in the sink in the morning - better than anyone so getting those out of the way will keep you on track for your goals.  By setting a specific time to do annoying tasks that we know need to get done lowers procrastination, lowers stress, and prepares us for the day or night ahead.  If you're extremely unmotivated (ahem, me) read this post on three things to do to kick your butt into gear.  Number one though - if it takes two dang minutes to complete....do it now.

Routine Leaves Room for Mindfulness

So we've given up unnecessary decisions and are now doing things with intention & discipline.  This leaves room for us to be mindful.  We're no longer worrying about what to do next because we've set up a routine, we know when the next task will happen, so now it is time to honor ourselves by being present during the tasks. 

First lets talk about mindfulness vs mindlessness.  If you've ever accidentally poured orange juice into your cereal instead of milk or put a box of crackers in the fridge instead of the cabinet, those are examples of mindlessness.  We aren't focusing completely on the task at hand.  Our minds are wandering or counting off the number of tasks we have to do that day.  Instead of being fully present we're hanging out on the edge of what is next - completing each task only to get to the next one, the next one, and so on.

Mindfulness leaves room for meditation, for honoring ourselves, for delineating what is a priority.  When we're fully present in the moment we can realize when something is no longer serving us in our routine.  Perhaps you're not finding joy in the time you've designated to drink your coffee and read.  What might serve you better?  Routine leaves space for mindfulness and mindfulness leaves space for creativity.  Maybe you need to switch up what you're reading or where you're reading.  Maybe you want to move your meditation from sitting on a pillow to sitting on your front porch.  Mindfulness can help us enjoy tasks rather than feel annoying obligation.

A Sense of Security & Preparedness

Because we've reduced stress and are now working towards the things we want to get done in a day, routine can give us the sense of security and preparedness that can rid us of those butterflies we often feel during the day.  If I'm up at the time I need to be up then I can get everything I find important done then I'm already in a 'get going' mindset and I'm more prepared for the actions I need to take at work.  Routine gives us discipline.

I used to think it was the yoga or the meditation that helped me feel more in control at work.  It wasn't just that - it was the mindfulness, the preparedness, the security I felt aligning myself with my goals for the day.  In the evening, my 30 minute clean, dinner making, and hour of blog work means I have delineated time and have a clearer mind when I settle in for family time and then sleep.  I'm not worried, I feel secure, and I feel prepared.  

Room for Self Care

Routines should be personal - we all have different goals, so waking up and immediately exercising may not fit your goal or lifestyle.  I'm not here to tell you what you should do morning and night, I'm just here to tell you that you should figure something out.  We all live different lives with different goals.  Different things serve each of us differently.  By creating a personalized routine, you're honoring yourself and leaving room for you own self care.

I will say maybe you need to make Wednesday nights candle-lit-glass-of-wine-diffuse-all-the-lavender bath nights or Saturday mornings walk-in-the-neighborhood-alone-with-my-coffee-and-leggings mornings because once you have a routine you'll find space for your favorite things.  You'll find the space, the time, and the need to take care of yourself - even if it is just a reward for putting those dishes away.  Through personalization you can find what makes you feel better, feel productive, feel aligned when done morning or night or weekly.

How to Set Up Your Routine

The app I use to manage my day is called Our Home.  This app is really designed for families to assign chores to family members and then each member can amass points towards a reward - but I just like it because it sends me push notifications.  I don't want an alarm I have to turn off I want a simple notification so I know 'hey it's time to make dinner'.  This app keeps me on track - since I'm horrible with habit trackers.  

To get started, I outlined what I thought my perfect day would look like down to the minute:

5:00 am - wake up, yoga clothes,
5:05 am - wash face/brush teeth
5:10 am - empty dishwasher/load dishwasher if needed
5:20 am - dog out
5:30 am - yoga, meditate, journal
5:50 am - make coffee, grab lunch stuff
6:00 am - quick blog/social media work or make up
6:20 am - get dressed
6:27 am - leave for work

5:00 pm - 30 minute clean
5:30 pm - make dinner
5:45 pm - throw in a load of laundry/fold if I can
6:00 pm - eat dinner
7:00 pm - work/family time
8:00 pm - dinner clean up
8:30 pm - shower/skincare/night time self care
9:00 pm - in bed (my mom said 9 pm was a good bed time and I've been following that ever since!)

Then I entered the routine in the app telling it to send a notification to me when that task needed to be done.  When I realized I could fit something else in or I needed to do one thing before another thing, I adjusted the routine.  When something stopped serving me, I adjusted the routine.  I don't stick to it all the time but it gives me a sense of security & preparedness and 100% reduced the stress load I carried.
You can try using hourly planner inserts (or like these in the shop) or creating your own customized dashboard like I did to remind me daily.  These physical reminders can also keep us inspired - we're gonna see them everyday so that then we can live them.  We keep a lot in our brains so it is great to have both a physical and digital reminder of the path we're looking to keep.

The bottom line is that they allow us to get more done in our day.  I would even say an evening routine is where you should start your focus so that you set your self up for success in the morning.  If you plan your evening, get everything done and on track for good sleep and for a prepared morning.....then your morning routine will go off with out a hitch!

Want more routine & productivity inspiration?  Join the Five Sixteenths | Live Creatively Facebook group here & check out more productivity posts on the blog here.

What does your routine look like?  How have you set yourself up for success?

xoxo, Moe

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