I’m a big believer in routine.
I’m a single parent to 3 kids. It’s how we survive.
It’s also how we thrive. (See my lost post… they’re the same thing).
I’m also a foster carer. My kids have suffered trauma in their early life. Routine is essential to them too.
The little things we do daily make a big difference.
And habits are the way we build those routines.
From James Clear, author of Atomic Habits:
Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them.
Like many people, I’ve had to rethink my daily routines in light of the current situation. I effectively have 3 time zones…
Kids are asleep.
Getting up early gives me time while the kids are asleep.
I’m up at 5am, and get an hour (2 if I’m lucky) before my youngest wakes up.
Here’s what I get done:
- Drink water
- Write in my gratitude journal
- Do some strength exercises
- Brush my teeth
- Get on with some creative work (writing, sketching, working on my business). This is the only time I’ll get to do this, and it’s why I’m up at 5.
- I’ll clear my emails and messages.
I’ve gone into detail here as it raises a useful behaviour design trick.
Back over to James Clear…
One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top.
Kids are awake.
Once the kids start waking up, all bets are off.
Getting creative work done is challenging. It’s still possible (when they’re quietly watching a film… if/when that happens!). I treat that time as a bonus.
Here’s what I get done during the day:
- I try to spend some one-to-one time with the kids (tricky when there’s 3 of them and just 1 of me)
- I’ll get work done around the house (cleaning, cooking, tidying, etc.)
- I’ll do my HIIT workout (or at least try to)
- I’ll check out social media, read my emails, etc. as we head into the afternoon and my energy levels lower.
It’s easier for the kids to understand what I’m doing if they can see it. So working at my laptop isn’t great, but loading the washing machine is fine.
The kids also have their routines. I’ve written before about how we use a Pomodoro-style system at home.
Kids start going to bed.
My youngest goes to bed around 7.30pm.
I still have two kids to put to bed, and my energy levels are (understandably) pretty low by this point.
And so, this is when I consume:
- Social media and articles I have saved in my read later app
- Sometimes a bit of TV if I need to wind down
- My usual bedtime routine (brushing teeth, reading a book, etc.).
A good day starts the night before, and so I do a little prep for that too (small things like placing a bottle of water next to my bed for the morning).
And that’s what works for me.
I would love to hear what works for you.
*I’m human. I don’t do this every day. Sometimes I get really close, and other days I’m miles off. I know where I want to be, but I don’t beat myself up for being less than a perfect person. You shouldn’t either.