Humans are highly habitual animals. We prefer to have everything organized in a well-known pattern. However, during our lifetime, we usually go through different phases when it comes to habits.
All parents know that if you honor the daily schedule of your child life becomes much easier. Eat, sleep and play at the same regular intervals each day significantly increases the chances for a happy and balanced toddler. Overstepping this schedule and you are likely to have a cranky offspring and conflicts are bound to happen. So for the good of the child (and your own sanity), you try to maintain a schedule.
As we get older we tend to think that these habits are no longer needed. That we are free to do whatever we want at whatever times we choose. Here we usually find the young adults haphazardly wandering around from one thing to another. Trying to make sense of life. Feeling lost. They have seen the daily habits of their parents and are frantically trying to not end up as them.
As we grow a bit older and wiser perhaps, or at least gain more experience, we start to realize that maybe habits aren’t all bad. Maybe we could become more productive and live a more fulfilling life with some daily habits to guide us? So we start to try them out once again. This usually happens around the time when you have children of your own.
Having daily habits acts as a helping hand to get things done. And getting things done is a requisite for feeling that you are doing something worthwhile with your life. That you live up to your true potential.
Here are some things I’ve noticed about habits and how they can help you become more productive:
A) Successful people have daily routines
One thing successful people have in common is that they have a daily routine that they stick to. Of course, there has to be some flexibility, but the key is to stay on track for the most part. Persistence is the key.
B) Make time for doing what you love
If you’re struggling with finding time for doing what you love, try to create a daily routine where you carve out some time for your pet project. We are most productive in the mornings so perhaps getting up earlier before work can be a solution?
C) Be strict with yourself
If you have small children there is always a myriad of things that need to be done. If you continue doing those things after the kids have gone to bed you’ll perhaps end up on the sofa at 22.30 completely exhausted. Nothing to do but haul yourself off to bed.
Try to draw a line at bedtime. Try to stop doing the everyday stuff after the kids have gone to sleep and instead do what YOU want to. Something that will take you one step further. The everyday chores can wait until the next day.
D) Take advantage of the compounding effect
To find time for my writing I have started to get up earlier and write for an hour before our day starts. This is something that I do every day. Both weekdays and weekends. If it’s a weekend then I can usually write for two hours in the morning. So instead of saying that I don’t have time to write, I’ve carved out 9 hours(!) in the week when I can practice what I love. Amazing!
So even if you only have half an hour here and there use those minutes well. Over a week they will add up to hours. Over a year they will add up to days. During a whole lifetime, it will add up to several hundred weeks. A time that you spent doing what you love! Time very well spent.
E) Find ways to add to the compounding effect
What if you cut back slightly on watching TV? If you spend two hours less each week watching TV you’ll have two more hours of doing what you love. This compounds to several days during a year.
If you already don’t watch TV, inventory your day to find those moments that could be filled with doing what you love. Perhaps clean the house a little less? Perhaps spend a bit less time on social media?
Here’s my daily routine:
I get up at 5 am and write for an hour. Then it’s time to get the kids ready for school/kindergarten and myself for work. I come home at around 5 pm. Time to cook dinner and then I focus on my family until the kids have gone to bed. Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t do some daily chores. The key is to also involve your children in doing them. Folding laundry with your child can be an opportunity to talk about their day.
In the evenings I do these little things that also needs to be done to move forward. Like checking in with the different FB groups that I participate in. Read some blogs that I follow. Check my emails. Read in whatever book is ongoing at the moment. Discuss things with my husband.
I try to stick to this schedule every day. The only difference being that on days off from my regular job, the day is spent with the family. Then I try to find a few moments to sit down and read a little during the day. This works since the kids are now a bit older.
Some days all the kids are away on playdates and all of a sudden I have several bonus hours at my disposal. Wow! I try to use those hours wisely.
Don’t forget that there is a time in life for everything. When you have small children it’s only natural that you don’t have oceans of time to spend on other things. But here’s the thing: they grow up(!) (it’s a biological fact, nothing to do about it).
Before you know it, it’ll only be you and your spouse at home on a Friday evening. The kids are long gone. And a few years later they will have moved out. Then you’ll have oceans of time in between their visits. But if you don’t spend time with them when they are living at home they will not come to visit. Even though this gives you more time, you will be a miserable person. So make sure to spend time with them now. With kids there is no such thing as quality time, there is only quantity.
What does your daily routine look like? How can you tweak it to find even more time for doing what you love?
Photo: Anna Henricson