How to Create a Flexible Daily Routine

How to create a flexible daily routineThis is it – can you believe it? We’ve reached the final week of our four-week routine challenge. Over the past three posts, we’ve learned about the importance of maintaining a daily routine for increased productivity, time management, and balance. We’ve established an effective bedtime routine so we get those important 7-8 hours of sleep a night. And we’ve created an efficient, realistic morning routine that carves out “me time” before the day officially begins.

Today we finish the last leg of this journey by establishing a routine for our day-to-day tasks. We will discover different strategies to best manage our time so we accomplish our goals while also having fun.

Are you with me? Let’s do this.

Flexible daily routine

Create a daily routine

Now, I know there are a few of you out there thinking – “Okay, I can get behind the bedtime routine and the morning routine…but do I REALLY need to schedule my entire day as well??”

Yep.

But let me explain.

As I’ve stressed in my earlier posts, my definition of a daily routine is not a strict, unchanging, set-in-stone, list of “to-dos.”

Rather, my definition of a daily routine is establishing a handful of daily tasks that help with efficiency, productivity, organization, and/or self-reflection. By turning to these activities with regularity, you create pockets of consistency in your life. This consistency, in turn, provides comfort and stability.

Occasional comfort and stability is incredibly beneficial for busy-awesome people like you and me.

Two different categories

To create the perfect daily routine, I recommend coming at it from two different angles: the everyday “work stuff,” and the valuable “you stuff.” (Highly scientific language here, people).

With the “work stuff,” I am referring to the tasks and projects you need to do for your job.

Now, the word job holds many meanings here: it might be a regular 9-5 model, but it could also be a junior in college managing her classes, a stay-at-home-parent handling every detail of family life, or an entrepreneur simultaneously balancing several new projects. Wherever you fit in this spectrum, the “work stuff” category contains the things you need to do each day for your job.

The “you stuff,” (aka the fun stuff!) is all about the things you need or want to do each day. And you want to do these tasks because they’re important to you, be it mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally.

This “you stuff” category is no less important than the “work stuff” one. That being said, it often gets pushed to the wayside when life gets busy.

This is precisely why I include the “you stuff” category in our daily routine process; it is important for our emotional and physical wellbeing, and it therefore deserves equal attention in our day-to-day activities.

So how do we create our routine with these two different categories? Let’s tackle it step by step, starting with the workday.

Create a Flexible Daily Routine

The “work-stuff”

Before we start planning out the specifics,  let’s first make a list of the regular tasks you do each day. This will look different for everyone, but the process is generally the same.

Some of these tasks are pretty straightforward: Check emails, answer voicemail, grade homework etc. There are other things, however, that aren’t quite so black and white:

You: “But Paula, I don’t do the same tasks each day. I teach on Tuesday and Friday, I have Faculty meetings on Thursdays, I meet with my writing group on Mondays…”

Okay. I hear you. No problem.

Try stepping back and looking at the bigger picture. You might not do the exact same thing every day, but I bet you do the same thing within a general category each day.

Teachers, do you work on class prep each day? Business people, do you check in with clients each day? Bloggers and entrepreneurs, do you do some form of blog advertising/promoting each day? Stay-at-home-parents, do you work on household upkeep (laundry, dishes, floors, bedding) each day?

I thought so.

Create your list

So consider all of the different projects you tackle each week, place these specific tasks in larger categories, and create a list of your daily tasks. Mine looks like this:

  • Answer emails
  • Class prep
  • Grading
  • Research/Writing
  • Meetings

Peak productivity

Now that you have your list, the next step is considering what time of day you are most productive. Everyone has their *peak* time of day as well as their, “I need toothpicks to keep my eyes open” time of day (for me, that time is between 3:00-4:00 p.m.)

By knowing what time you work the best, you will have an easier time setting your schedule.

Create that schedule

Okay, you know your list of general tasks, and you’ve highlighted your peak times of productivity throughout the day. Now it’s time to create that schedule.

Look at your list of things to do. Keeping your peak productivity times in mind, begin planning your work routine.

I recommend breaking your day into 30 minute or 60 minute increments with 5-10 minute breaks in between. Fill in the hours of your workday with your list of to-dos, and concentrate your most demanding tasks during your hours of peak productivity.

Now, putting this approach in practice might feel strange at first, because you might not finish everything in one sitting. Instead, once you reach the end of your time block, take pride in what you accomplished. Then, move on to the next task.

*Remember,* you don’t need to stress if you don’t get everything done in one sitting; you know you can come back to it at the same time tomorrow. Why? Because this is a daily routine.

Flexible Daily Routine

Let’s get specific

As a reminder, although you created broader categories to establish your daily routine, you can always get more specific when you plan out your to-do list for the day. For example, take a look at my daily routine compared to my specific daily list:

Daily Routine

  • 8:00-9:00 Research
  • 9:10-10:10 Research/Writing
  • 10:20-11:00 Class Prep
  • 11:00-11:30 Lunch (I know – super early…but I get up at 4:15, so by 11:00 I’m starving – ha!)
  • 11:30-12:30 Class Prep
  • 12:40-1:10 Grading
  • 1:20-1:50 Emails
  • 2:00-3:00 Meetings
  • 3:00-3:30 Odds and Ends

Monday to-do

  • 8:00-9:00 Research – read Copland book
  • 9:10-10:10 Research/Writing – expand on chapter 2
  • 10:20-11:00 Class Prep – office hours and review readings for the week.
  • 11:00-11:30 Lunch
  • 11:30-12:30 Class Prep – prepare Tuesday’s lecture
  • 12:40-1:10 Grading – grade papers
  • 1:20-1:50 Emails
  • 2:00-3:00 Meetings – CTL Meeting
  • 3:00-3:30 Odds and Ends

By knowing specifically what you need to accomplish each day, and what time you will tend to each task, you avoid wasting time wondering, “What should I work on next?” What’s more, by recognizing when you are at your peak performance, you increase your efficiency and get more accomplished each day.

Okay, that’s the “work stuff.” What about the “you stuff?” What about the other hours of the day that you’re not at work? This is the fun part.

Flexible Daily Routine

The “you stuff”

For both your bedtime and morning routines, I’ve asked you to reflect on things you would like to do more often in your life but feel like you don’t the time.

Guess what, I am going to ask you the same thing once again for your daily routine.

  • What are the things that make you feel happy?
  • Are there certain activities that help you relax after a long day?
  • What makes you feel alive?
  • When do you feel most loved and at peace?

Take a moment and look at your answers to the above questions. These are the things you need in your life every day. In order for you to keep going strong day after day with your ‘work stuff,” there must be time for YOU. Now, I realize it might not be realistic to fit all of your above answers in your daily routine each day.

But just like we did before, let’s step back a bit. Let’s break the “you stuff” list into three broad categories:

  • What makes me feel good physically?
  • How can I feel good mentally?
  • What helps me feel good emotionally?

If you can tend to these three questions each day by fitting them into your daily routine, you’re on your way to one of the most important tasks of all: taking care of yourself.

Remember - you can’t pour from an empty cup. Click To Tweet

Create your “you” routine

So again, use these three questions as an interchangeable template for your daily routine. My Monday might look like this:

  • 4:00-5:00: Physical – Walking: Take Bruno for a walk
  • 5:30-6:30: Emotional – Connections: Make dinner with Ryan
  • 7:30-8:30: Mental – Read: Catch up on my favorite bloggers’ latest posts.

And just like that, you’ve established your ideal, flexible, daily routine. You get the every-day necessities done quickly and efficiently while – most importantly – saving time for what’s important to you.

Are you ready to create your own daily routine? Download your FREE workbook here and get started TODAY!

Create a Flexible Daily Routine

Are you looking for the other posts in this series? Check them out here!

How to maximize your productivity by following a routine

Create your perfect bedtime routine in three easy steps

How to create your ideal morning routine

How to create a flexible daily routine (you’re here now!)

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30 thoughts on “How to Create a Flexible Daily Routine”

  1. I’ve recently started planning my whole days and it really makes a difference in my productivity. Planning the “me stuff” is really important to, it’s easy to forget about what I need.

  2. What a great post full of amazing tips! Between blogging and working a full time job, I’m pretty busy but I think this post will end up helping me a ton. Also, thank you for emphasizing the importance between you tasks and work tasks. So often I push aside fun things I want to do for work and I need to stop doing that. Thanks for sharing!

    A- simplylovely90.com

    1. YES! I am also struggling with the balance of working full time job and blogging. It is so important that we make time for ourselves as well – as easy as it is to push aside. <3

  3. Even as a stay at home mom, I still like to have a routine. I don’t call it a schedule because it’s very flex, but I try to do the same thing at the same time each day. It helps all of us be ready and productive

    1. Yes! That’s exactly my thought, too. It doesn’t have to be a rigid, never-changing schedule; a bit of consistency can go a long way:)

  4. LOVE this post so much!! I have been in a major rut and have KNOWN I need to sit down and make a list or daily routine because I’m so much more productive that way. This post just 100% inspired me to get it together!

    1. Thanks so much for this note, Monica! I’m so glad the post helped 🙂 Good luck creating your new routine; let me know how it goes!

  5. Great tips, Paula. I think we can all benefit from the reminder about recognizing our energy level fluctuations throughout the day and fitting in our activities to match. “Rhythm” is my word for the year…that helps me keep the focus on the flow of activity rather than the structured lists/agenda.

    1. I love that rhythm is your mantra – what a great word! The idea of focusing on the flow of activity is wonderful. Thanks for sharing that!

  6. I live for routines! I AND my family function so much better when we have a routine and stick to it! Especially during the work week!

  7. Daily routines are so helpful for productivity and it is definitely a good thing to schedule some “me time”.

  8. What a smart idea! As a work at home mom, I sometimes get to the end of the day and wonder what I accomplished. And I’m frustrated and exhausted! I need to work smarter and get into a good routine!

    1. Exactly! I can completely relate – I get so frustrated when I’ve worked all day but can’t even recall what I’ve done. It’s nice to have it written down so you can see the progress you’ve made in each of the different categories 🙂

    1. That’s great that you already love having a routine. Adding some fluidity is helpful so you don’t feel “restricted” to the same stuff each day 🙂

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