Routines are a funny thing. We all have them — even if they’re not optimal they can be a great way to improve your day! My morning and evening routines are always evolving, as is how I track what it’s in them.
First of all, before you start getting technical, you should take a look at what it is you want to achieve with your routine. Without looking at that, and then breaking that down into what it is you need to do as a part of that routine, it’s going to be much harder to pin down the technical side of things.
When I start working this out, I often use a mind map — and my personal preference is MindNode, which we love here at The Sweet Setup. I like mind maps for this because they don’t force an order and let me break things down as much as I want or need to. Once I’ve figured out what goes into my routine, I look at what the optimal order is. I’m not aiming for perfection here, and frankly it doesn’t matter too much if I make my bed before or after breakfast — but in some cases order is important (such as showering before getting dressed), and I like that to be reflected where I keep track of the contents of my routine.
The next part depends on your preferences. I’d highly recommend keeping track of the individual steps in your routine somewhere. If you use Reminders, I’d suggest a list called “Routines” with each routine being a top level task, and the individual elements being subtasks. In something like OmniFocus or Things, each routine should be a project. For all three, I’d recommend that you attach the due or do date to the top level item (the routine itself), so if you want or need to skip a day then you can easily do so without rescheduling potentially dozens of tasks.
Our favorite habit tracking app, Streaks, should also be looked at here. You can either use this in conjunction with one of the previously mentioned apps, or on its own. Streaks will only let you track 12 habits at once, so I’d suggest one per routine rather than one for each task inside the routine, simply so you don’t run out of tracking slots. Streaks also lets you customize when a habit appears on the app badge, so you can keep your evening routine off the screen until it’s time to get the ball rolling. If you don’t want to use a task manager with Streaks, then a note per routine with a checklist inside it is a great way to have an easy-to-reference list. Until you’ve got your routine nailed, having a checklist of what to do as part of it is crucial. And even when it becomes a habit, checklists are a useful tool if only for giving you a sense of accomplishment, but can also help you work through days when you’re not feeling 100% yourself.
Routines can help you set yourself up for success, so they’re worth paying attention to and doing maintenance on from time to time. Have fun setting up some morning and evening routines for yourself!
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