We may be deep into the dog days of summer right now, but before we know it, we’ll be debating about how soon is too soon to order pumpkin spice everything and snapping pictures of pops of color on the branches of trees. That means now is the time to start getting back into the normal rhythms of routine we may have let slip over the summer months.
Maybe you have summer Fridays off or you’ve adapted to some other seasonal flex schedule. Maybe you have kids at home and your routines have shifted to accommodate camp vs school or you built in more work-at-home time to adapt for the season. Maybe the longer days mean longer nights out in the yard by the fire pit. Maybe you took vacation days and haven’t quite gotten back into the swing of things. Regardless of which of those statements you identify most with, there’s probably been some shift in your day-to-day routines during the last couple of months.
Some Routines Need Shaking Up
Let’s be clear, just because something was routine doesn’t mean it should always be routine. Before you settle back into your day-to-day rituals after any sort of summer shake-up, take an honest evaluation of what was really working for you and what wasn’t.
Just because you’ve always done something one way doesn’t mean you should keep doing something that way. This process is a chance to really evaluate what’s working for you and what’s not.
Wait, Is This Really Necessary?
Are you wondering why you even need a routine? Setting a rhythm to your day can help you reduce stress, control your time better, and make room for the things that bring you joy. This doesn’t mean you need to be locked in to a specific daily to-do list that must occur in a set order at a set-time.
Having a little flexibility and spontaneity is a good thing. A basic routine, however, can help you create space to be flexible and to fit in the unplanned without scrambling to get all the ‘must get done’ aspects of your day done.
Yes to Coffee & Meandering
For a lot of us, the day can’t get off to a good start without a decent cup (or two or three) of coffee and some time to ease into the day. For some, a workout is a must whereas others would rather laze around in bed through a few hits of the snooze button. Regardless of what type of morning person you are, you can kick-off your day on the right foot if you plan for it. There’s no need to snooze yourself into a constant state of rushing out the door late for work. Just plan for it.
Your routine may be setting an initial alarm 20 minutes before you need to really be awake and just so you can hit snooze a half-dozen times. Your routine may mean building in time before you’ve got to get the kids off to school to sip your first cup of coffee in the silence of a still house. Your morning can start any way it needs to if you plan for it.
Make Time for Must-Haves
If you find yourself devoting 20 minutes to wade through your inbox and reply to messages each day, then block out 20 minutes on your calendar each day for it. If you need to step away from your desk to grab lunch or you need time to just make a plan of to-do tasks for tomorrow, block out space on your calendar for it and make it part of your daily routine. Take ownership of the time you need to get through your routines.
Don’t plan a quick call with your teammates for 9am on a Monday when your train isn’t even pulling into the station downtown until 8:45 and you’ve got a 10 minute walk to the office…and then you need to grab coffee and check your messages. Create a routine that accommodates what you can do and what you must do. Plan the other stuff that pops up accordingly.
It's Not Just About Work
Your routines aren’t just about that span of time you’re at your desk or in the office. Now is the time to evaluate your personal routines too.
When is your family sitting down to dinner? When do you go to bed? How are you spending that last hour before heading to sleep? Evaluate all aspects of your day-to-day routine (or lack thereof) and make a new plan to go forward with.
Even a good routine can feel overwhelming if you’re going from 0 to 100 in one fell swoop. Your kids still have a few more weeks of summer vacation. Your summer flex schedule isn’t over until after Labor Day. Now is the time to make a plan and to start easing into it.
Start working a little intentional purpose into your summer-flex time. It’s not surrendering that free time, but it may be time to start getting up when you’ll be getting up in September. It may mean getting dressed as if you were going into the office even on your work at home days. Identify your new routine and start making adaptations to put it into practice.