After teaching two classes on building productive daily routines at Haven Conference 2022, here are the most-asked questions I received and my best advice for all of them.
Last week I attended Haven Conference in Atlanta and was invited to be a speaker to share my expertise in time management and schedule organization. I immediately knew what I wanted to talk about, and that’s daily routines. While most attendees at the conference were bloggers and influencers, they’re also moms, partners, business owners, corporate employees, and have personal lives that take over just like everyone else.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do for work, your routines can make or break your entire day. And a lack of routines is exactly why you feel stressed, scattered, and behind all the time. So for two days, I spoke to an audience about how to implement routines into their lives. Not just “ideal” routines, but “realistic” routines that are actually something they can stick with.
But just because you weren’t in the room where it happened (Hamilton shoutout!) doesn’t mean you have to be out of the loop. Today I’m rounding up the most-asked questions that kept coming up over and over again, and my advice and answers for each of them.
Q: What kinds of planners and calendars do you use to organize your day?
I personally use a combination of the Erin Condren Lifeplanner, the Apple calendar on my phone, and Asana. I put appointments in my phone’s calendar with 24hr advance reminders, and I plan my priorities and projects in my Erin Condren planner. Asana is what I use for planning blog projects and managing brand collaborations.
The other speakers on Friday’s Panel use some really great tools, too. Robyn uses the Erin Condren planner exclusively, while Christin uses the Full Focus Planner. For digital planning tools, Megan prefers Clickup and Christin likes Trello.
Long story short, there isn’t a right or wrong kind of planner to use. Experiment with different options and when you find one you like, stick with it and don’t stray from it. That will keep you from getting confused.
Q: How Do I Stick With A Routine When I’m Traveling?
You need to think outside your daily habits when you’re traveling in order to still feel on track and in control of your day. You may do a workout every morning at 7am at home, but when you’re traveling, that may not be possible.
Instead of throwing off your entire day and not getting that energy boost, you can pull up a body-weight workout on YouTube and do it in the room. Or even just take a walk around your hotel with your coffee instead of sitting in the lobby.
By having vague routines instead of super specific to-do’s, you’re able to adjust and be creative to find a way to stay on track. Do you always shower at night? Keep that when you’re traveling too. Always take your dog for an evening walk? Take a stroll down the street to check out local businesses near your hotel.
Q: What Do You Do When You Get A Late Start Or Get Behind In The Mornings?
Time to reevaluate your commitments for the day. You only get 24 hours in a day, and you’ve got to sleep during some of them, so when you get a late start, you’ve got to find some things to take off your plate. Trying to cram it all in a shorter timeframe is going to do nothing but make you more exhausted and less motivated. Aka: You’ll do sub-par work that will have to be redone later.
When you get behind and it’s not even 10am yet, it’s time to look at your schedule and see what you and move, delay, or omit altogether. You can swing by the dry cleaners another day. That nail appointment can be rescheduled. The laundry isn’t going anywhere. Give yourself some grace and be okay with that time being lost instead of trying to magically gain it back.
Q: My kids are going to school soon and I need a new routine.
Back To School Time is the best time to create new routines. Your kids’ schedules are changing, so it makes sense to change your own right now, too. Just like you set a bedtime and wakeup time for your kids, set one for yourself and don’t stray from it. You probably get your kids’ backpacks and lunches ready every evening, so why not get your own lunch ready too and prepare your own workday supplies?
The first week of school is usually madness, so it’s a good idea to implement your new routines the week before the first day of school. This gives you some time to ease into it and figure out if it’s going to work. Take it as far as leaving the house at the time you’d take the kids to school. Like actually get in your car and drive around the neighborhood or down the street to get a coffee. (Bonus, this helps you get a feel for what traffic is like at that time)
Q: I make a list every day but never seem to finish it. I go to bed feeling unproductive.
Truth bomb: you’re asking too much of yourself. That list you made probably had 10+ things on it. And realistically, there wasn’t enough time in the day to do all 10 of them. Instead of focusing on what you didn’t get done, go to bed being grateful for what you did accomplish. You may not have crossed off everything on that list, but you did the most important or time sensitive action item. That’s something to be proud of!
I recommend ditching the “to-do” list and instead writing down your top three priorities for the day. This keeps you focused and helps you achieve the most important tasks. Once these 3 are completed, you can always do more.
On Sundays, you can write down a list of all the things you need to do this week. Then every morning, pick 3 and make those your priorities. When you ask less of yourself during the day, you go to bed feeling in control and relaxed.
Build Your Own Daily Routines
During my Saturday workshop at Haven, I shared these worksheets with the attendees to help them plan a morning and evening routine that will be most helpful to their specific lifestyle. Routines aren’t a copy and paste kind of thing. We all have different family commitments, jobs, and hobbies, so no one has the same routines as someone else.
These worksheets help you find your stress triggers, identify priorities, and map out a routine that will work for you. I recommend nailing down a trial routine and sticking with it for two weeks. After that trial period you’ll see what works and what doesn’t, and you can tweak it from there. And if you need more advice on routines, here’s my tips for a productive morning routine, and here’s my guide for a relaxing evening routine.