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Category Archives for Routine

Habit Forming with Micro Habits

We’ve talked a lot about routine, and I know that my morning routine I’ve been sharing can seem like… a lot.

Like, it is a lot. It takes me 2 hours to go through everything at a comfortable pace. I hope that I’ve conveyed the benefits of putting that effort in, because for me it’s not only necessary to include those things in my day, and my system, in order for me to ‘survive and thrive’ – it’s also all stuff I want to do, that makes me happy and comfortable and fulfilled.

But, you don’t have to start there.

In fact, if you don’t currently have a morning routine, it would be a bit of a stretch to expect yourself to DO ALL THE THINGS, every day, and keep it up until it all becomes habit.

Remember, this system has developed for me over time, like my bullet journal and all the other stuff. I’ve figured it out as I went along, and there have been many, many abject failures, and other times when I’ve just gone way off track before bringing it back for myself.

With any routine, you have to start small.

Micro Habits, They Call Them

It’s where you make one tiny change and stick with it for a while, and then that becomes a trigger for another change, so that you end up creating a positive chain.  

So pick one thing.

Is it getting up as soon as the alarm goes off each morning? Set it the night before and leave it on the other side of the room (plug your charger in over there, is what I do). Make sure you go to bed at a reasonable time to get enough sleep, but even if you have a bad night, understand you’re getting up as soon as the alarm goes off. Regardless. It’s too fucking easy to make excuses. When you hear it ring, just countdown 5-4-3-2-1 and move. That one is a Mel Robbins trick that is really useful in many situations, by the way. You can find more on that in her book The 5 Second Rule (on Amazon US here, or on Amazon UK here). Get out of bed, stay out of bed, then go and pee, brush your teeth, drink water. Whatever is the logical next step for you to get moving and stay moving.

You can use the micro habit thing for starting any habit, but if you (eventually) want to make a series of big changes, try and list them all out, then pick the logical first one. Where do you need to start? Start there.

You’ll need to find a trigger event or condition, a cue that is the same every day. You can begin something that will be on every other day, by the way, rather than 7 days per week, but honestly my best success has been with just biting the bullet and doing the thing 7 days a week. Once it’s formed, you can take an occasional down day or day off if circumstances run differently, but it’ll take the daily repetition to form a habit. If the habit you want to form is to get up at a certain time on workdays, you’re just gonna have to get used to the fact that that’s your new wake up time every day. Soz, not soz. It’s for the best.

So choose the right cue to remind you of your goal, and kick off the new behaviour. I find something that is sort of unavoidable to happen at the same time every day to be the best one. Coming home from work, if that’s a regular time for you. Letting the dog out last thing at night. Your first morning pee. And if you don’t wake up needing to pee each morning, please increase your water intake, you are dehydrated. You’re welcome. Anyway, you get the idea.

Whatever the habit you eventually want to form is, please start small. You’re making a tiny change here, eg, take a 5 minute walk around the block. One of the biggest mistakes we make is thinking we have to go from zero to hero in one fell swoop. You really don’t. Yes, you may truly want or even need to be walking 30 minutes a day every day. That’s a great goal to build up to. But if you’re starting from no walking, and can do those 5 minutes a day every day, that’s still over 30 minutes that week that you didn’t walk last week. You’re winning, keep going.

Do 5 minutes a day every day for the following week, and you’re 14 days into a habit. That’s serious progress. At that point, you could just keep going that way and really bed in your walking habit for the following 2 weeks, giving you a well established month’s worth of daily habit. That’s a huge success! Or, if you’re getting a little frustrated with only walking the 5 minutes, you could at that point (but not before!) raise the bar – only a little – and make it 10 minutes a day, every day. You see how this all works out, I’m sure. Eventually you will build up to the goal you want, without the side-effects of feeling overwhelmed or exerting any more willpower. It makes sense right?

The most important bit though, to include from the very start of your micro habit, is a little reward once you’ve done the thing each day. Something small that you enjoy, that won’t end up being real bad for you as you indulge in it every single day! A soothing cup of tea or coffee, a fancy piece of fruit, your first facebook check-in of the day, a piece of music you love, or curling up to read or watch something you love. Whatever floats your boat.

There’s a bit more to this whole habit forming (or breaking) thing, which we’ll definitely go deeper into as we move through the days. But for now, what 1 thing are you going to change from today, or tomorrow morning? What positive habit would you like to form, starting now?

Give us a shout in the comments below and tell us!

 

All the best

Lora x

Off Routine

Ugh.

The only bad thing, really, about having a routine, is when you are put out of the routine and it really throws everything off.

It’s a small price to pay, for sure, for all the BENEFITS of having a regular routine. But it sucks.

So, it was our monthly local social/networking Pagan moot last night. Myself and another lad Paul started this in our county when I moved here over 2 years ago, and I absolutely love the community that has grown, and will continue to do so, from this one simple bit of monthly outreach and connection that I take responsibility for.

The people who attend are truly lovely and many have become really good friends. The kind of people you can really get on with. The kind of people who, when you’re with them, you don’t really pay attention to the time passing. The kind of people you can really talk to, in depth, and then suddenly realise it’s 1am on a school night. (My offspring is on summer holidays from school right now, but we still call midweek nights ‘a school night’. I don’t know why either.)

And then you get one friend settled in a taxi, stroll home as another friend is staying over, and talk even more. Next thing you know it’s 2am and you’re just shutting off the lights to try and sleep.

Well, shite.

In case you are not following, yes, I stayed up talking and drinking with my friends instead of sticking to my usual sleep routine – 10pm tech off for an 11pm goal of sleep time.

I woke at 8am and did my email and banking checks, then heard my friend downstairs so shuffled down to say before she went away to work. We got talking (again) and she ran out the door after 9.15, a little on the late side.

I was sat at my dining room table, in my dressing gown, and literally the only part of my morning I’d done was drink some water. So of course the logical thing to do was take out my phone and go on facebook. Of course.

At 10.30am, Jon came in the room and I was in a funk, feeling way off kilter… and my usual conditioned response to that is to freeze – do nothing about the big stuff. This usually looks like, as in this case, me mindlessly clicking, sharing and scrolling on Facebook, allowing my brain to slide on by the things that are causing me anxiety.

He took my hands, and told me to try a reset. Just start doing the things from my routine that settled me into my day, like we talked about a few days back. I panicked at that point because I had two articles due by lunchtime and I wouldn’t have time to do my routine and I just had to go sit in my dressinging gown and start typing.

That didn’t sound like a good plan, to either of us.

So, I took a breath, and figured I would do my minimum viable routine for now while I was pressed for time, and catch up with things later. Or, let them go for the day. Coz that’s ok too.

Upstairs; washed face, brushed teeth and tied hair back, ate a fruit bar, took meds. Got ‘dressed’ into my batman pyjama pants, and a clean loose t-shirt. Drank more water (1 litre in at that point).

Downstairs; at desk, I lit a candle on my work altar today and did my daily devotional there. I opened my bullet journal, checked the weekly for what I had on that day, and the monthly just to make sure I wasn’t forgetting an appointment or event. Thankfully, I wasn’t. Fit a very simple daily task list onto the end of a page, put my headphones on – I listen to the same playlist of strong dance beats with no lyrics as a focus trigger when I’m writing – and got to work.

Normally I prioritise my book words first. The deadline is the end end of next month and I’m still 20,000 words down, as I procrastinated over ‘researching’ it for way too long at the start. I can do that wordcount in a month easy enough if I stick to my schedule though, so I’m not too worried there anymore.

Today though I had a very limited time to get my client columns done and sent, so I did those first. Boom. It was lunchtime. But I didn’t stop for lunch yet, I pushed through to the end of the book chapter I was working on, and got that settled too.

First 3 things off the list. 4 more to go. But first, lunch (oat and banana pancakes), and more water (2 litres in at that point).

After I’d eaten (and listened to a business podcast, so that’s another bit of the daily routine ticked off there too), back to work, and I recorded another podcast episode. I’m recording a heavy dissertation on the Mórrígan as a bonus/favour for some of my Intensive Programme students – and any other folks – who might find it difficult to concentrate and consume such a weighty document/book.

I went off list a little and registered the domain name for this project (which is now set up if you’re reading this online!), and did a few other hosting and admin bits for the websites I run and the new projects I’m putting together. I’m still learning wordpress and the tech aspects of all that is a bit much sometimes, but I’ve great support on my hosting site so that really helps.

That got written down on my daily page too, as I have a common tendency to feel that I haven’t done ‘enough’ (hello anxiety disorder and C-PTSD!) in any given day, and I find that really helps – tracking exactly how much I do get done. At least I can be honest with myself that way.

As you can see, my bullet journal is really never far from my hand. I honestly can’t sit down to work at the desk without it. Like, if I lost it I’d just cry a bit and start a new one… but I will always have a journal close to me, forever I think.

So here I am, at 5.15pm with 4 (+1 bonus) tasks ticked off, and nearly done my 5th one. The rest of the tasks are not day dependant, so if I get tired and decide to shuffle them around that’s grand. I’ve done exactly what HAS to get done today, and I’m satisfied with that.

Still to do that were skipped this morning are: a little professional development/devotional reading, meditation, affirmations and visualisations (I’ll do those as I finish up for the day before I leave my desk), some light physio exercises, and a shower.

Yeah, I’m sitting here in my own stank all day, and it’s going to be very difficult to haul ass in the shower – I do even worse at the end of the day with that, than at the beginning where at least there’s a bit of momentum to get moving. So if I can’t face that, fuck it. I’ll crawl into bed and just reset it all tomorrow.

Because that’s the true beauty of a routine. It’s always there, ready and waiting for you to slot back into, no matter how far out of whack you get.

 

All the best,

Lora x

Going Off Track in a Routine

Look, it happens ok?

To all of us who are trying to get a routine started, or form a habit, beat something unhelpful we’ve been landed with, or just get our shit together and do a bit better in our lives.

We all go off track at times.

As I’m writing this, it’s a Monday – the start of a new week, and oh, I had great plans and goals and aims for getting the best out of my Monday morning. I really did. I always do.

But this morning I remembered I’d to make a trip in to my Mam’s and feed our cat (my cat who can’t live with me currently and so has been kindly adopted by my Mammy) as she was away and I wasn’t sure what time she’d be home later.

Ordinarily, I would have left the feeding on the day of return, but I’m feeling a bit of the guilts coz I completely forgot to go in on Saturday, and when I arrived on Sunday she was in a huff with me. So, I thought I’d earn some extra brownie points, though of course it doesn’t work that way. Cat doesn’t give a fuck how hard I try to make it up to her.

I get kind of fixated on ideas that revolve around my inadequacies – perceived or real – and making up for them. It’s a problem, but sometimes there’s an easy fix, and I’ll make sure to take it. Therefore, it was important that the cat got fed this morning as well.

Well.

Neither of our alarms went off, and it was 8.45am before I woke up, 9am before I woke Jon. He hopped up and showered while I drank my water, took meds and ate my energy bar, and then read. FYI, this was part of today’s ‘professional mastery’ input – I’m currently revisiting Pagan Portals – Irish Paganism: Reconstructing Irish Polytheism, by Morgan Daimler (you get in on Amazon.comor Amazon.co.uk). I never really got the whole Reconstructionism thing in the States, and I want to try and figure out if that’s what I’ve been doing, as my spirituality has grown organically here in Ireland. I’ll let ye know.

Then I showered, and he went downstairs to read and get some breakfast. His choice today was Irish Customs and Beliefs, by Kevin Danaher (you can get it on Amazon.com here, or Amazon.co.uk here).

So far, so good, besides the sleeping in blip. We did a meditation session together through the Calm app, and then we headed out to Tramore to feed the cat. I plugged in my earphones and started to catch up on the weekly check-in videos from the students on my Mórrígan 6 month Intensive Programme, and then had to stop and take a breath as they were particularly moving and I wanted to focus fully on them when I got home.

Fed the cat. She was glad of the food, but didn’t care otherwise. Jon invited me for coffee, and even suggested popping home first for my bullet journal as I love a little coffee shop planning session, so I do.

By the time we got home though, my anxiety had kicked in about the amount I had to do today, and my schedule being off track, so we decided to rain-check our coffee shop treat mini date, regretfully.

I then found I wasn’t feeling right, at all. Very unsettled and out of sorts and it was only 11.30am. I needed to get back on track, and that’s where the routine kicks in. Fuck what time it was, just finish the morning routine, and ease back into the day. I went through my daily devotional, physio exercises, had some carbs and watered my garden while I listened to more of my current audiobook – The $100 Startup: Fire Your Boss, Do What You Love and Work Better To Live More, by Chris Guillebeau (you can get it on Amazon.com here, or Amazon.co.uk here).

After spending the time and energy to focus on my students’ videos, I recorded one of my own in response to them, and that was another mental tick of feeling better and not letting people down. Time to hit the office… at 2.30pm.

Sitting down at the desk, I went through a very quick affirmation and visualisation, and had a little catch up on tasks and events to reset my brain to reassure myself I wasn’t missing or skipping anything else. Then I did a simple task list for the rest of the day (6 items only)… and mentally allowed myself the grace of coming back to work after dinner if I need to, but also the understanding that I don’t have to if I don’t want to.

Nobody is going to die if those tasks don’t get done, or get moved to a different day. But I might, if I don’t take care of myself.

All that being done, I drank more water, and thanked Jon a little tearily for taking care of me and understanding me, when he brought me the coffee I hadn’t had. He knows that’s a part of my routine too (I have one a day) and that it might help with the ‘getting back on track’.

Writing this is the second item on the task list for today. First I do the daily creative things – book words is number one, then this as I quite enjoy it so it makes for an easy ‘win’, then a keyword based article as content marketing for the new meditation site/business niche I’m building is number three.

After that comes the 2 tasks that are scheduled to happen on Mondays, currently that’s writing and editing content for my 14 week Irish Magic Course. I have the bones of it written as a book I decided not to publish as a book, but instead have been adapting as a self-study email course. Wednesday is the weekly deadline to make sure those lessons are edited and ready to go, as this is the first run through of the course and the first student signed up on a Wednesday, so she receives her lessons every 7 days after that.

Yes, I pre-sell stuff and then create or improve it as I go. It makes for very clear and unavoidable deadlines, to ensure I stay ahead of myself and the work gets done. All of my classes and courses are in a constant state of editing and updating, with me usually only a few steps in front of the promises I must keep!

I’m back on track now, to some extent, and feeling a lot better that I haven’t let myself (or anyone else) down today. Lessons learned, though I’m sure I’ll need to keep re-learning these particular ones.  

First mistake was, I hadn’t put it onto my week planner to feed the cat. If it’s not written down it doesn’t exist for me.

Second, I didn’t set myself up on Sunday for the day – and the week – ahead. I got caught up yesterday in working on my current obsessive project – the guided meditation journeys website – and my usual Sunday stuff didn’t get done. We’ve no meal plan set out, I didn’t remember that the monthly Pagan moot I run is happening this Wednesday until my friend Orlagh texted me about it mid-morning, and I don’t have a weekly spread done in my journal.

What I did right though was realised I was off track, paused and took a breath before I spiralled, and just reverted to the routine. Slotted in where I’d left off, and just carried on from there, regardless of what the physical time was.

The true beauty and usefulness of having a good plan, is that it’s always there for you, telling you what you can do next.

You don’t have to worry about the big picture, or fix all your problems immediately. Just pick up the plan, put your trust in that, and take the next step. Then the next.

The Sleeping Cat

Unless you’re a cat. Then you don’t have to take any steps.

Catch you tomorrow,

Lora x

 

PS

Don’t forget the links to books I share are ALWAYS my personal resource recommendations, but are also sometimes affiliate links if you want to head over and get a copy for yourself. It doesn’t affect you in the slightest, or cost you anything, but I get a few cents kickback if you buy. I’m not going to remind ye of this every time now, but I want to be crystal clear and accountable!

My Morning Routine

I love my morning routine though.

Yeah, even on the weekends.

It has been an absolute pain in the hoop to get INTO the routine, and I’m still figuring out the details and adapting as I go, but it just takes so much hassle out of my day, without me even having to think about it too hard.

Take showering for example. Changing states is difficult for me, going from dry to wet to dry, changing clothes, it all translates into my brain as hassle. It can take a lot to get me going, but if I’m going I sort of need to keep going, because historically I’ve been running on fuel that is trauma sourced and fed so the innate danger is that if I stop I won’t get up again.

Dramatic explosive changes I can do, but the gentle transitioning of getting in the shower is a constant struggle. Welcome, my friends, to the world of executive dysfunction.

“Properly taking care of yourself seems comparable to running a marathon and a half. Maybe you don’t even want to take care of yourself. Maybe you just want to wither away. Either way, this is day three without a shower, and the only reason you’ve eaten anything is because junk food is cheap, and there sure is a hell of a lot of it in your room.”

[Quote from here, but it’s not a great article tbh]

There’s not a huge amount of information available on it, and what’s there is often taken from different contexts.

But the upshot of all of this is that to get moving in the morning, I need to not be making choices or decisions. I need a routine that means I just get moving and stay moving through it without having to think too much. That takes a trigger, and then clear steps to follow.

Here’s how I do it.

My Morning Routine

Sometimes I wake before the alarm, and I have my tablet to hand with eBooks on there, and to be able to check the time because my phone is at the end of the bed, but no Facebook. I can check email on there to make sure there’s nothing super urgent, and to see if I made any money overnight… but I don’t get into reading them. I’ll usually take a look at online banking too, and do any transfers or bill paying that’s due that day. If I woke a good bit before the alarm, I’ll do my morning professional reading, or meditation in here, depending what I’m in the mood for.  

8am – Alarm goes off, but phone is at the end of the bed out of reach. So, I have to get up to turn it off. Then I sit on side of bed and drink some water (I make sure I bring a bottle or glass with me the night before), eat an energy bar (just dates and nuts, from Aldi – no sugar), take my meds, look out the window for a while to collect my thoughts. Bathroom time; I use the loo, and brush my teeth. I’m awake now.

Showering. I turn on the bluetooth speaker and put on the business audiobook or podcast I’m currently listening too. Right now it’s The $100 Startup: Fire Your Boss, Do What You Love and Work Better To Live More, by Chris Guillebeau (you can get it on Amazon.com here, or Amazon.co.uk here). I focus on that, letting the ideas and interest bits fire off in my brain, to distract myself from having to shower. Get clean, get dry, get dressed.

I leave the biz audio on, grab my bullet journal and bits from the bedroom, and head downstairs. I drink more water, let the dog out, check on my garden, and make a green smoothie from a bag of spinach I keep in the fridge, a fresh banana, and whatever frozen smoothie mix is in the freezer. I’ll either fill the watering can a billion times to water the garden while I’m drinking this, still listening to the audio as I go, or I’ll sit outside (inside if it’s lashing, but even then I might stand under the tree a while). I’ll usually check WhatsApp messages at this point and say the daily hellos to my family, make sure nobody has died in the nighttime. Things like that.

When I’m done, I head into the sitting room where we keep our altar space, turn off the audio stuff, and I’ll say good morning to the Mórrígan. This could be anything from beating a rhythm on the Bodhrán drum, to making an offering of alcohol or incense or berries from the garden, to just saying a prayer silently or aloud. But it does always involve lighting a small votive candle on her altar and leaving some silent space for her to say good morning back. Or whatever the fuck she wants to communicate to me that day… though many days she is silent.

Then I turn on the Calm app and do the daily meditation, or choose one from the menu themes. I’m curious to try the Winnie The Pooh meditations but haven’t got there yet. Maybe next week. After that the biz audio often goes back on, or professional development (ie Irish heritage, folklore or mythology) audio, but it’s more difficult to get good versions of things I want to study on audio, so I usually have to read those myself.

I’m enjoying Morpheus Ravenna’s video classes on the Mórrígan though, and Story Archaeology has a wealth of episodes I listen to time and again, so they’ll often get slotted in there.

Because it’s time for my physio exercises! Between the dodgy knee and the persistent pain in my shoulder, I’ve a lot to be strengthening up here, and I keep the hand weights weights, roller, and stretchy elastic tension thingy in the room ready to go. If I’m feeling particularly energetic I might throw in a few stomach crunches here as well, but that’s a new thing.

If I didn’t get to read professional development stuff here, I’ll do that at this point – a chapter of a book, a section of an academic paper. It doesn’t take too long, and I might make a few notes to get the hands warmed up for the next stage.

Office time. I’ll refill my water on the way through (I’ve probably put about a litre into me at this point, but I need at least 3 litres every day) and go sit at my desk. I open the bullet journal and either read aloud or rewrite some affirmations, and spend a few minutes visualising what I’m telling myself. Then I turn to the next available page and write the day and date at the top, and check back through my monthly/master tasks and events, and my weeklies, to make sure I’ve not missed anything.

This is that training your brain to trust the system thing, making space to regularly go back and regroup or gather up any loose ends, and putting them where they need to be on a plan of action.

Then I’ll write out the tasks for the day, working round any planned events, and slotting it all in. If there’s a lot, I take a few minutes to prioritise what HAS to get done or what would be nice to get done, and then I might even number them in order of which I want or need to do first.

All of that usually takes me about 2 hours, and I am ready to start writing by 10am. I begin with my biggest project, currently my book on Pagan Priesthood, and get the daily word count for that done while I’m fresh and still have will power. (We’ll have a look at decision fatigue another day!)

My first break usually happens round 11.30 or 12 noon when I’m done that. I get some coffee and carbs into me at that point, and allow myself a small Facebook check in. Gotta watch this addictive nature round things that are designed to addict me!

I’ve developed this routine over YEARS mind you. I was doing bits and pieces of it at different points through my whole life, but it’s only in the last year or so that ‘ve put it all together and got in the rhythm of it like this.

So if you’re starting off, just pick one thing. And do it tomorrow. Keep doing it every day until you’re used to it and you don’t have to remind yourself to do it. Until it becomes something you rely on rather than something of a chore or a hassle.

What’s the one small change you could make tomorrow to begin or improve your own morning routine, to make your day a little better?

We’re a few days in now, so I’d love some feedback. Is this useful? Any questions? Anything I’ve mentioned that you’d like me to expand on or just talk more about?

Let me know in the comments below!

 

Lora x

 

PS

Don’t forget the links to books I share are ALWAYS my personal resource recommendations, but are also sometimes affiliate links if you want to head over and get a copy for yourself. It doesn’t affect you in the slightest, or cost you anything, but I get a few cents kickback if you buy. I’m not going to remind ye of this every time now, but I want to be crystal clear and accountable!