Creating a New Routine

For most people, the holidays are a busy time of year. They may not be working, but they often have several family commitments and other things going on during the holidays. I doubt many people can honestly say they got much done this holiday season–at least not in terms of work. I certainly can’t.

But the holidays are over now and it’s time to get back to work. For most, this means getting back into a routine, but why not do one better? Why not start a new routine in the new year? Right now is the perfect time to adjust your routine to something more comfortable–or more challenging, if that’s what you need–for you. You already have to prepare yourself mentally to get back into full work mode, so why not prepare yourself to make some major changes in your life?

Creating a new routine is hard but often it’s exactly what we need to move on to the next level of our life. Most people are afraid of change, but the thing is, change is what allows us to move forward. Change is what brings us closer to our dreams, and it starts with us.

This year, I’m restructuring my life to create a new routine. I’m pulling back from the world and focusing on me. I was more focused last year than in the years before, but this year I’m determined to take my focus to a whole new level. I’m trying a new system with a daily planner I downloaded and printed out. It’s structured by the hour which is usually not something I’m comfortable with, but it’s been a long time since I tried to schedule my work that way so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Here’s the thing, though: creating a routine is easy, sticking to one is hard. It’s easy to get derailed by friends and family who always want to see you when you should be working. It’s easy to get distracted by a million things on the internet or by a beautiful day. I’m particularly bad at it, but I’ve learned some things that have helped me stick mostly to a regular work schedule, and I thought I’d share them with you in the hopes that they’ll help keep you on track too.

1. Write it down. Make sure your commitment to the new routine is written down somewhere. You don’t have to write anything official like a letter or a blog post, but make sure the information is written down somewhere where you’re likely to see it often. This way, you have a constant reminder of the new routine or habit you’re trying to get into.

2. Inform those closest to you. Hopefully, telling the people closest to you what you’re planning to change about your life in the new year will inspire them to hold you accountable. Even if all they do is avoid contacting you during the time you’ve allotted to your new commitment–say two hours of writing time a day–that’s still a wonderful support. And if the people closest to you don’t support you when you tell them you want to change your routine and try to create a better one, well then perhaps you need some new people in your life.

3. Reward yourself. Just like with Nanowrimo, you should reward yourself for establishing a new routine. Every week that you manage to stick with your new routine, you should reward yourself. The routine I’m trying to adjust to is putting down all my goals for the day ahead in a proper planner every day and accomplishing those goals. Every week that I manage to stick to the schedule and get all my work done, I’m going to put a gold star in my planner. Choose a reward for yourself–try for something that won’t give you diabetes–and treat yourself for managing to implement a new routine. It’s a lot harder than it seems at first.

Those are just a few things that I’ve found really helped me stick with my routine. I could go on for days about the different methods I use to get and keep myself on track, but really, I’d rather hear from you now–how do you stick with a new routine or habit?

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