Routine Troubleshooting

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So you have your life all routine-ified: Great work! I hope you’ve seen some improvement from how your life was pre-routines. But what if you’re not seeing the improvement you were expecting? Are you still feeling behind, overwhelmed with everything you still have to get done? Are you wondering: Why aren’t my routines working?! Take a look at my routine troubleshooting list to see where you might be missing the mark.

Routines Aren’t a Cure-All

We’ll start with the most important point: routines can’t fix everything! A baby on a good routine will still cry. My three-year-old still has tantrums. Routines won’t make your laundry disappear or make your dishes wash themselves!

I think sometimes we get our expectations a bit too high when we start something new. Yes, I am freeing up hours every day by sticking to my routines. But I still get behind, we still get sick, I still don’t sleep eight uninterrupted hours a night. Thus is life! That’s step one in routine troubleshooting: realizing that life will never be perfect.

Now that we’ve lowered our expectations! let’s optimize the routines you already have.

Unnatural Routines

Consider how you move throughout your house and environment every day. Are your routines making you move unnaturally? Are you having to run up and downstairs more than you should? Or maybe you are expecting yourself to unload the dishwasher before you finish your coffee. (I’m guilty of this one!) Keep in mind your natural movements throughout the day, and adjust your routines as necessary.

Leave Yourself Wiggle Room

As a stay-at-home mom of a three-year-old, I’m constantly getting interrupted! (So far in writing this post: 8 times.) I need to leave myself a lot of wiggle room for these interruptions. Otherwise I would be behind by breakfast! Are you leaving yourself enough extra time to deal with little distractions? You can’t expect yourself to be 100% focused 100% of the time, and that’s okay! Add in a few minutes to each task and see if that helps.

Remember Free Time

I wrote in my post about efficiency that I take breaks often. Mainly to take care of whatever Emma has been asking for! But also because it helps me come back to my task with renewed focus. If I have been writing for four hours straight, you can bet that I am not fully paying attention by the end of it! Leave yourself some time to take breaks, have free time, and play in your routines. You will be happier and more efficient for it.

Expectations > Abilities

This is the hardest of the troubleshooting tips for me to come to terms with. As much as I would love to think of myself as Super Mom, I just can’t get everything done that I want to every day. I can’t vacuum our whole house every day because it makes my back sore (even with my super-light cordless vacuum). I can’t move furniture by myself because I’m not strong enough. I can’t even make dinner every night because I get migraines. These things are hard to write and hard to deal with in real life.

Scaling back my routines to line up with what I can realistically do is a work in progress. And having to lower my expectations of myself hurts. But it’s so important. If I didn’t, I would feel always behind and never good enough. But the reality is, my house is clean, my family is fed, and I feel pretty accomplished every day.

Are you putting more on yourself than you can handle? I know it’s hard to admit sometimes. If you have a health condition, or you have a new baby, or your husband goes away for work, or you’re home with multiple kids, or anything else that might limit what you can get done: give yourself grace! It’s okay to do less so you don’t lose your mind or over-exert yourself. Set realistic, attainable goals, crush them, then take a break!

I hope these tips have helped you in troubleshooting your routines! What’s not working in your routines? Let me know in the comments!

Still need some help to create routines that are unique to your life? I made a worksheet to help you with that! Grab it here:

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Wondering why your routines aren't working? Routines and habits are praised as a cure to all your productivity problems, and that sure can be true! But getting those routines tweaked just right can take some effort. Check out my tips for troubleshooting your routines! | Fulfill & Thrive



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