1. Review your routine.
Write down your current daily routine, including the seemingly small stuff. Give it a good read and make note of the tasks that you regularly struggle to get done. What’s not working? Why? Think about how you can shift things around so you don’t end the day feeling defeated.
2. Make the most of your high-energy moments.
Are you a morning person, or do you need a few hours (and a few cups of coffee) to get moving? Think about which parts of the day you’re most alert and productive. Maximize those motivated hours by tackling your most challenging, tedious or energy-sapping tasks then rather than at times when you’re less focused or you’d prefer to be taking a nap.
3. Try something completely different.
Packing your kids’ lunches in the morning may seem like a reasonable routine. But if just getting everyone dressed and out the door before the bus comes feels like a Herculean task, why not take lunchboxes out of the equation? Try packing lunches in the evening for a week and see how it goes. You may even find time to make breakfast.
4. Don’t get hung up on “should.”
We all have preconceived notions about when certain things “should” be done (see #3), but what feels right for some people may not work for you (and what felt right for you two years ago may not work for you now). For example, if you end up skipping the gym most evenings for last-minute meetings or social events, try scheduling lunchtime workouts as appointments on your calendar.
5. Revisit and revise.
Routines are useful tools, but they shouldn’t be set in stone. As our schedules and responsibilities change, so should our routines. If you find yourself running up against the same wall every week (or every day), it’s not the end of the world — it’s just time to tweak the system. Take a deep breath, grab your pad and pencil, and start over one at step one.