Simplify Life… with Routines

by Michelle Acker on September 14, 2011

in Choose Wisely

Choose Wisely – A new series on how the littlest choices can have a huge impact on our willpower, productivity, and decision-making energy.


Photo credit: Ian Bailey-Mortimer (Ian B-M on Flickr)


Back in what seems like another life, I was an elementary school teacher.  Each year, we started off the first few weeks focusing mainly on establishing good routines and procedures.  Taking time to do this early on helped the classroom run smoothly all year long.  It’s the same way in regular life. Taking a little time now to establish routines and procedures will help your life run more smoothly overall.

The more parts of your to-do list you can fit into a regular routine, the fewer decisions you have to make each day. Suddenly you don’t have to ask yourself, “What am I making for dinner tonight?”   Instead, that’s already been taken care of as part of your daily or weekly routines.  Fewer decisions = less decision making fatigue. Less decision making fatigue = you making better choices.

So, where do I start?

First, start small. Build one small routine at a time, and master it.  Then add more.  You don’t want to overwhelm yourself.  A little here and a little there always adds up more than you think it will.  Second, be patient with yourself.  You’re starting something new, and that always takes some time.  And usually it involves some mistakes and adjustments.  Just don’t give up!  Keep working on building routines into your days and weeks, and you will see results.  I started the first routine (below) several months ago.  And it’s working really well. I don’t have to think too much about it anymore, and I feel ready to add another new routine.  Start simple and work your way up.

Still don’t know where to start? Here’s what I’m trying:

Routine #1  (Morning High 5’s- 5 quick, easy things to do when you get up.) Mine are:

Breakfast, devotional, laundry dishes, and dinner. I can tick them off on my fingers without thinking.

  • Breakfast (because this is always something I forget to do)
  • Quiet devotional time (to start my day off right)
  • Laundry (start or reset a load)
  • Dishes (empty the dishwasher)
  • Start dinner ( if I can. Crock pots save my sanity.)

Easy peasy.  And, just a few minutes into my day, I already feel productive!

Routine #2 (Weekly routine: Menu plan for the week) This is a new one for me, and something that still has a few kinks.  Once I get them worked out a little better, I’ll do a post and explain how this is simplifying life around here.  For now, I try to sit down on Saturday, plan out the week’s dinners, and make a list of what I need for each day.

Routine #3 (Evening High 5 – same as the morning, it’s 5 quick and easy things, but do them at night) –  I have to be honest here.  This is a brand new routine.  I am not good at doing it routinely yet at all.  But it’s my next big hurtle, so I’m working on it.  Aren’t you glad to know you’re not alone? 😉 Mine evening high 5’s are: Dishes, counter, hotspots, bathroom, and tomorrow.

  • Dishes (load & run the dishwasher)
  • Counters (clean and clear the kitchen counters. I’m really working on not leaving a pile on the end anymore)
  • Hotspots (horizontal surfaces -table, bar, hutch, etc- that pile with stuff faster than I can breathe.   Or so it seems. 😉
  • Bathrooms (I hate cleaning the bathroom.  But FlyLady is right : if you swish and swipe them clean every night it’s not bad at all.)
  • ‘Tomorrow’ – (I prep my clothes, shoes, and to do list for the next day.)   It’s nice to get up in the morning and not have to think when you’re groggy!  😉

What routines to you have in place to simplify your life

and help you choose wisely?  I’d love to learn from you!

Share with us in the comments.  🙂


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristi September 15, 2011 at 7:14 AM

I love this reminder…I’m slowly getting some routines in place for me (and my boys) which I know will help make our day run more smoothly!!!

My evening high five is brand new too….I usually just fall into bed!!!

Michelle September 15, 2011 at 8:14 AM

I’m glad to know I’m not the only one struggling at night! I got most of my high fives done last night…. Such a happy sight this morning. 🙂

Stefanie Brown September 15, 2011 at 10:00 PM

I’ve implemented something similar, Michelle. It REALLY helps keep things running smooothly…
Thank you sharing what you do!
Looking forward to seeing you again…

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