This is Week 3 of a Year of Living Productively
This week I tested the ability of routines to help me get more done. At the end of last week’s post I shared my approach. I have morning, school, afternoon, evening, and weekday routines in my HomeRoutines iPhone app. I had to do a little tweaking of the routines I’d created previously in order to fully test this productivity hack. Here’s what I learned.
How Routines Saved My Sanity This Week
- Motivated me to finish the mundane. I was super excited to put this hack to work, especially after I tweaked the routines. Being able to click a star on my app after doing things like showering was motivating. I know. I’m weird. I buzzed around like a bee at the beginning of the week, trying to complete as many stars as I could.
- Extremely effective in keeping the day moving. As I thought about how to change my routines, I realized that I often get stuck on a school subject for too long. I added Spanish to the daily schedule, rather than trying to do two longer sessions during the week and it’s working beautifully. The HomeRoutines app has a built-in timer and I found myself really enjoying that. The kids and I clean ten minutes per floor in the morning. As a result of thinking about routines, I started spending time filing during my ten minutes in the school room. In the past, I left that for a weekday and couldn’t seem to get myself to do it. I enjoyed seeing how much I could get done before the timer went off. Giving myself permission to check off a star if I’d done any work at all on the task made a difference, too.
- Prevented procrastination. I thought about blowing off a mail task I had to do, but decided to really try to stick with the routine. I did it and wondered why on earth I procrastinate on mailing stuff! It’s no big deal.
How Routines Made Me Crazy This Week
This was an unusual week with a holiday and a snow day. I kept feeling like I should be doing school as usual, but didn’t. The result was I didn’t do much, but didn’t enjoy it. I doubt that this was the result of routines, however.
- I wasn’t sure what tasks were most important and I was stressed. I was only focused on my routines, so didn’t know what critical or just important tasks I should be working on. And I didn’t factor in enough time in my routine to figure that out.
- I resisted the routines. Routines worked beautifully in the mornings I was doing school. Afternoons and evenings were another story. When I get started on something (like writing or clearing email), I really don’t want to stop. Nirvana for me is a day that I can do anything with no obligations whatsoever. Having a routine that I *should* be using felt like an obligation. Besides, it wasn’t very practical. My son’s birthday was this week and with the snow, we felt like watching a movie later than usual. That meant I couldn’t follow my evening routine or at least that I didn’t want to.
Did Routines Help Me Get More Done?
They definitely did! That was especially true when I used them. I’m happy enough with them that I plan to keep using my morning and school routines. As for afternoons and evenings, I’m not sure. It may be that subconsciously, I want to be free to do what I want at these times.
I don’t currently use the HomeRoutines app, but routines are an essential part of my life. My current morning routine for example, is exercise, write, breakfast, devotions, shower, chores, and school.
The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 4
I heard about Ann Vosskamp’s Daily Planner on Next Gen Homeschool. I love that these forms give you a visual overview of the day. Yes, they’re paper! There is a weekly planning page I will use as well. I purchased a beautiful floral clipboard with a folder and notepad inside to store the pages from Target. I can’t find a link, sorry! I think adding this paper overview to my routines will really help–especially with knowing what HAS to be done.
If you’d like to join me this week, here’s what you do. Download Ann Vosskamp’s planner pages or choose another template like this one that gives you an overview of your day and week.
Click here to see how Ann’s paper planner worked for me.
If you’ve tried using routines to increase your productivity, please vote in the poll below.
Here are the links to the productivity hacks I’ve tried so far:
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I think my frustrations with routines are some of the same as yours. I just have two–an AM routine and a PM routine. However, my AM routine just basically consists of getting myself bathed, dressed and out the door. My PM routine is doomed from the start because even after giving my husband most of the dog care duties, I still have over four hours of nightly chores and only 2.5 hours between when I get home and bedtime. I can get so focused when I get home on working on the routine that I’ll totally forget if something urgent has come up that I need to address instead. On the weekends I’m “supposed to” (according to my time budget) start my evening routine at the same time that I would get home from work. However, inevitably I get focused on some project and don’t want to stop what I’m doing when my evening routine time rolls around.
We seem to be kindred spirits. 🙂 Actually, I have a friend with the same struggles. I would love to keep discussing this to see if we can find a solution. Part of the problem seems to be that my routines in the afternoon and evening seem to be all or nothing. In other words, if I just spent a week trying to add one aspect of those routines, it would probably go much better. I invest a lot of energy into my morning and school routines. By the time I’m done with lunch, I’m pretty well spent. I wish that weren’t the case, but it’s true! Anyway, please share if you come up with something that helps you and I’ll try it out. Have a great week!
Do you think you’ll be trying Mark Forster’s “Simplest and Most Effective Method of All”? Almost nothing from him in a year and then he surprises us with a new methodology! I’d be curious to read your thoughts. I could probably write an entire article in response to his post! My husband encourages me to use a simple system, but I am one of those for whom the thought of not having a master to do list sends me into a panic. I am so sure something would fall through the cracks.
Believe it or not, I hadn’t heard about it before you mentioned it! I had to laugh because I had suggested going list-less years ago on his forum and it didn’t go over well. 🙂 However, I see that many comments express horror at giving up lists. I will DEFINITELY test it, Robbie. Thanks!
I am loving this series of posts on productivity and i am going back and catching up. As an academic with ADHD, I also try a lot of different productivity hacks and cobble together different systems. I *love* the Home Routines app. I use it mainly for morning and evening routines, but I have also added the weekly FlyLady Zones.
To not make myself crazy, I use this app when I can, as much as I can. My attitude is that it helps me on the days I am most unfocused (most mornings) and it gets me ready for work in a decent amount of time. It’s great to open the app and say, “Oh yeah, I still need to make the bed and brush my teeth.” In the evenings, I use it to get that special sense of virtue at having left my kitchen clean and the joy of having a clean kitchen greet me in the morning. It also then leads me into my bedtime routine. This routine seems longer so I often do it to music or while watching Netflix on the iPad. On a weekend, when facing a house that needs picking up and cleaning, it keeps me from being overwhelmed by focusing me first on my Weekly Home Blessing and then a certain zone. I figure that dong something trumps doing nothing… So I have been able to move beyond the perfectionism you talk about (everything or nothing)…
I don’t use it for any other types of tasks for the reasons you describe.
Thanks for a great review!
Madrisa, I think we have a lot in common. I am very distractible! The app helps me remember and also develop new habits so I can be as efficient as possible. I’m so glad you like the series. I love experimenting and writing it. Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy day to comment!