Have you ever wondered what the secret of highly successful people is? Whilst there might be a few answers to this question, one of them is without a doubt their daily routine. Having a daily routine can help you boost your productivity, become healthier, and definitely reduce stress and overwhelm.
I don’t know about you, but I am a creature of habit. I think I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember, it just helps me stay focused, sane, and organized. And I’ve also noticed from the people around me and more personal research, that those who stick to systems and routines tend to do better in their career and personal life, but also feel better mentally. So today I want to share with you why I need to have a healthy daily routine to stay sane and how it can help you too.
If you have ever had to look after a child, especially babies, you will know that having a routine is essential for them. As soon as they are not in the tiny newborn stages anymore, parents usually try to start creating a schedule for them, mainly around feed times and sleep. Then, as the babies get older, more activities will be introduced in their lives, and with that, new routines. I dare you to try to take a routine away from a child – especially a toddler; try and have lunch at a different time than usual, or try to skip nap time, 90% of the time it will be a disaster. This is because we as humans weren’t created to just live “randomly”; of course there needs to be room for spontaneity and last-minute plans and activities, but that can’t replace having a routine in place. We need structure in our days and our lives in order to function properly and especially to take care of our mental health.
If you know me, you know I have a strong routine in place, especially because of my busy life and different commitments. I’m not willing to negotiate on my sleep time unless it’s for a very good reason, I’m not willing to sacrifice my meals or wait until the morning to decide what’s going to happen in my day. It’s not how I’m structured and to be honest I don’t even think we can afford it as working adults with responsibilities. I know we are all different and that’s the beautiful thing in our world; I’ve been called a control freak (and I admit I was a little bit in the past, but thankfully I recovered), but I think there is a difference between being a control freak and being organized, and I just accept the fact that I’m not as free-spirited as someone else may be, but this works for me so I’m going to stick to it.
I realised I needed routines more than ever during the first lockdown and the different stages of how I coped with it and why ultimately having a good routine in place has literally saved me. I want to point out that when the pandemic began, I changed 3 houses in the span of a month-ish (initially I was isolating in my house in London, then I flew to Italy to quarantine in a rented apartment since it was requested by the government for anyone coming from abroad, and then I finally moved into my mum’s house). Each time I had to adapt to the environment, be gentle with myself, and try to create a structure for my days. The first few days were TOUGH; I’m talking sleeping at 3am, showering at random times, and eating lunch at 3pm. I was all over the place and that affected me especially in my mood: I was very grumpy, worried about everything that was going on, and felt like I was wasting my days.
After trying to grace myself in this difficult time and also trying to rest and avoid doing 1000 things a day which is how my life normally goes, I decided that I needed to create a new routine for this season or I wouldn’t have survived. This looked different for each house I lived in because of different dynamics, but I saw a major difference (I’m seriously not being extra), and if there is one reason I didn’t get badly been affected by the pandemic on a mental level, apart from prayer, it’s because of my routines.
So I’m going to share what my everyday routine looked like during lockdown and even after the restrictions were eased (at least in Italy); this doesn’t look exactly the same as what I had in “normal times” but the key points are pretty similar and I’m happy to also share my daily routine on a regular day.
How to create your best daily routine for a successful and productive day
1. SET AN ALARM IN THE MORNING
Regardless of whether you have something to do or not, set an alarm at a decent time, don’t wait until you wake up by yourself because you’ll start messing up your sleep patterns and funnily enough you’ll feel more tired than if you had an alarm and also, before you know half your day will be gone.
2. HAVE A MORNING ROUTINE
This has changed for me over the past 6 months or so, but check this post if you want to see what my regular morning routine looks like in detail. Regardless of what you choose to do, I believe (and not just me) that having a morning routine in place is essential; it sets you up in the right way to face your day, regardless of what that is going to look like. My morning routine now takes a bit longer than it did in London, but that’s because 2020 slowed us all down, I’ve been exclusively working from home for a year, and also Italy has a much slower pace of life than London. So I normally pray, have breakfast, and spend some time with my mum before she goes to work, I exercise, I read, I sunbathe (thanks to the glorious Italian sunshine) and I do my beauty routine.
3. BOOK ON YOUR CALENDAR WHEN YOU ARE GOING TO WORK
Unless you have a 9-5 and are still doing those hours but from home, if you are self-employed, freelancing, or looking for work, then set some time aside to complete that work. For example, I used to work for several clients at the same time, so, first of all, I established how long I’d have to work for each one, how many days I wanted/needed to work and how I was going to divide my time for all of them. Then at the weekend, I would take online courses, rest or focus on personal projects and spend time with my family.
4. HAVE MEALS EVERY DAY AT THE SAME TIME AND MAINTAIN A GOOD SLEEP PATTERN
This is another thing that is so important for our well-being. Being Italian, I actually always had a very good routine for lunch and dinner, in fact, I was shocked when I moved to the UK because I saw they weren’t a big thing as they are for us Italians. So even during lockdown that wasn’t an issue for us because my mum and I would have lunch and dinner together every day at the same time. If you are struggling to know what to cook, or how to have food ready in advance, check out my meal planning post where I share all my tips on how to create a meal plan and I also have a freebie for you to download and use right away!
In terms of sleep pattern, I’m usually very good at it, and I don’t think I’ve ever been too bad. Whatever time you choose to wake up and go to sleep, make sure they are consistent and you are getting a good amount of sleep each night.
5. JOURNAL REGULARLY
This can also be considered part of a self-care routine, and I talk about it in more detail in my post on how to start taking care of yourself, but I always make sure that I journal every day (or most days anyway) and write down how I’m feeling. I normally do that anyway cause in case you didn’t notice, I quite like writing, but especially in 2020, writing down what was happening in my days and how I was feeling during that season, was been a major help. And when years will have passed, I want to be able to read what happened in those days and remember what we overcame.
Conclusion on how to create your ideal daily routine
These are 5 simple steps that maybe you have done before or you want to be able to start and stay consistent with them, but in case you feel like you are all over the place and don’t really know how to get your life together, then feel free to use this daily routine or create something similar for yourself, and check if you will see any difference over time (I’m sure you will!).