2. Reflect On the Tools You Already Have
When building a routine there often is the need to invent in fully new. New tools, new time to get up, new time to go to bed, new diet, everything new. With doing it all at once, we hope for change to immediately start and us feeling better almost right away. If I expect too much of myself it only takes a few weeks, to fall off track and old “bad” habits start to creep back in again.
It's not easy to not see habits we naturally gravitate to as “bad”. Often the tools we use subconsciously, are looked at as procrastination and being lazy as if a routine or self-care should feel like work to be helpful.
One good thing for me about reflecting on my routine, as philosophical as it sounds, the approach is quite practical for me. Making a few lists helps to get an overview over everything and if you’re anything like me, being able to make lists will excite you the most about this whole process.
If you’re trying to build a routine or reflect on the one you already have, the easiest way to get an overview is have a few lists. I have a “Tool I Actually Use”, “Tools I’d Wish I’D Use (more)” and an “Emergency List”. All of these lists have changed over the years, some got more extensive, some got a tiny bit smaller. Once a year, for me being a basic b*ich, it’s in Autumn, I start reflecting on how I did with my routine throughout the year. How did my focus points work, were there any subconscious habits I started to use, how confident did I feel about my tools? I then set new intentions and focus points for the next year and try to gently try to implement small changes, one at the time.
“Tools I Actually Use” – List
This is the list that might seem easy but is quite hard. It’s not easy to feel out things you do subconsciously and not be judgmental about it if it’s a “healthy” habit or not. We tend to censor ourselves quite a lot and it’s okay if you do so. It’s your list, you don’t have to feel bad about it. Start with the gentle tools you might already use like taking a long shower, pampering yourself, having a long chat with your friend, watching your favourite movie while it’s rainy outside, things you’re excited about doing. On this list you put focus on productivity tools, no matter how gentle the productivity is.
“Tools I’d Wish I’d Use (more)” – List
This is the list I’d actually start with. Usually it’s the changes we want to see in ourselves that motivate us the most. Maybe this is exactly the reason you want to have this list as second? Your life, your lists. Knitting more regularly and doing Yoga more regularly are constantly on this list. I have weeks where I do Yoga every day and I truly want to have knitting as a hobby I’m good at. Again, even I start with the gentle tools on this list and put things like “find a clear weekly schedule” because even though this has high priority, it’s quite daunting and needs some sort of consistency and in these times, consistency just isn’t really a thing anymore (it’s me, I’m the problem, I’m truly bad with being consistent but this year owes be something).
On here you put your distraction tools. All the tools you use to bring you through high stress situations that last for a few hours at most. Your Emergency List that will bring you through full days to weeks, will look different and is a whole different topic. Of course, I have things like using Social Media or playing games on my phone on my list (I divide them into platforms that make me feel okay and platforms I need to be careful about) but I also have gentle productivity things on there like organising my workspace on there as a distraction tool. I still work on not judging too much about how much more often I choose watching TV over a gentle productivity tool like cleaning or baking.
A routine you're actually able to stick to on a "daily" basis isn't a set of tools you have to use on a daily basis, it's being able to pick an choose from the list "Tools I Already Use". Reflect over the tools on your list and put them into different categories:
“Gentle Productivity | High Productivity | Distraction | Things I’d Wish I’d Use Less”.
The “Things I’d Wish I’d Use Less” shouldn’t be the things you will fully cut out of your routine. If it’s genuinely helping you in stressful situations and it’s not hurting you in any ways, being more considerate about how much time you spend on this, is often all you need. Having a full list with other things to do you and like to do, will help you. Try to not judge your routine on day one.
This is the second Blog Post to a three parts series on “How To Build A Sustainable Routine”. Sharing anything about my mental health journey still makes me incredibly nervous. I’m not in anyways trained in psychology and I’m not a mental health coach. This is just me, sharing my input.
I'm looking forward to be sharing more with you in the next few days.
All the best,