It took 2 years of grad school, plus working full time, plus a few part-time jobs here and there, but I graduated from my masters program in 2014. Throughout my program, I had kept up a steady stream of knitting and crochet for friends and various babies of friends. I just fit it in where I could, in between work-work and school-work.
In May of 2014 I fully expected to have all kinds of free time. As the graduation date grew closer, I purchased a whole load of yarn for all sorts of knitting and crocheting and general crafty projects. Almost a year later I realized I hadn’t touched any of it.
It wasn’t like I was ignoring it, or that I hadn’t been creating things. It was that I honestly had LESS spare time now that I was out of grad school.
You see, when I was in grad school, I had routines down to a science, as that was the only way I could juggle it all. I had optimized my morning, evening, and weekend routines so that I could seamlessly go from work to school to more work to home and still manage to have some time to relax. After I graduated, I let those routines go and ended up rushing around and filling in my time with everything I’d forgotten to do in the first place.
So I worked back in my routines, and that’s how I’m managing to work and blog and slowly build to an Etsy shop, while making time to see new places and enjoy getting lost. These are the routines that keep me sane and lower my anxiety about getting everything done.
1. Pack a lunch
This routine has 2 parts. First, by packing your lunch you are assured that you will not waste time on your break to go get a lunch. Second, by packing ALL your lunches on Sunday night, you don’t waste your mornings trying to get your lunch together. I usually spend Sunday night making my entrees for my lunches throughout the week. My sides and snacks stay the same, so it’s easy for me to put an entrée, my 2 sides, and my snack in my lunch bag every morning. What normally took ten to fifteen minutes takes about two.
2. Plan your dinners
I usually plan my dinners before going grocery shopping on Sunday nights. I’m not so regimented that I plan which dinner goes on which night but I do plan 6-7 dinners for the coming week. Whoever gets home first usually makes dinner, so since we’ve both agreed on it there won’t be an issue deciding what to make. We do take into account if there’s a planned night out, and if we decide to go out for dinner spontaneously we keep one meal for the next week.
3. Plan your outfits
Another Sunday night task. I really should call this post “optimizing your Sunday.” This sounds way too planned and structured to some people, but I promise this will change your life. I spend about 15-20 minutes on Sunday night planning 5 outfits to wear to work. Sometimes I plan down to the jewelry, other times I just get the basics covered and accessorize in the morning. It doesn’t matter. I pull the outfits out of my closet and spread them on the bed flatlay style. I take a picture of each outfit on my phone so that when the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet I can still remember what I was going to wear. This saves ridiculous amounts of time, and gives me a chance to “Shop my closet.” My outfits are usually much more expressive of my personality on the weeks I do this as I’ve had more time to make decisions, surf Pinterest for ideas, and try things on if needed. When I don’t plan ahead, I tend to have 5 days of variations of the same outfit, so this is one of my best fashion secrets.
4. Replace “dead time” with workout time.
You know that time in the day where you have the energy, but you don’t really have anything pushing you? The time where you usually spend way too long on your phone or finding other things to do because it’s short enough that you can’t go somewhere but long enough that you get bored? THAT’S the time you should work out. For me, this is in the morning. I’m still half asleep when I start my run, but I’m wide awake by the time I come back. For years I tried working out after work, and I found that I made excuses not to go because I was tired, or I found that I would go, but by the time I got home and showered and had dinner I didn’t have time to do things I enjoyed. For you this may be the opposite, and that’s fine. But if you’re finding that you’re avoiding exercise because it gets in the way of your passion, find a new time to exercise.
5. Schedule your “me time”
Now that my evenings are free from exercise, I schedule 1 night a week as a block of “me time.” This is not the “me time” that is when you workout, or when you focus on your blog, or anything else. This is a night each week where I do things I like. It’s my date with me, and I only pick things to do that bring me absolute joy. It’s something I look forward to every week. I might spend an entire night knitting or I might spend an entire night shopping online. Sometimes it’s even working on blog things because I enjoy it. Whatever it is, it is not time wasted because it was where I relaxed and recharged.
That’s it! So now I’ve built in healthy meals and exercise into my routines. With Sunday night getting the majority of my chores and 1 night a week specifically on my passions, I have 5 other nights to schedule in my responsibilities and demands. Some weeks those 5 other nights are chock full of things I HAVE to do. Other weeks I end up with more time on my hands than I planned. Over all I’m less stressed and anxious, and I am a lot more productive on the things I need to get done.
How do you maximize your routines to get more done?