I looked forward to this week’s challenge, Organize Your Routines. All of us, no matter how structured or lax, have some sort of routine. A routine is a blueprint to how you live your life. This point alone makes me want to scrutinize my routine and make it even better.
In the chapter, “Organize Your Morning Routine”, Jennifer states, “If you start off your day overwhelmed, stressed out and late, chances are you will expect the rest of your day to continue the same way.” (Page 236) I have started off days like this and it does perpetuate into a very stressful and less productive day. At that point, she already had my attention.
Jennifer helps by outlining the following goals:
- Make a list of everything you need to accomplish in the morning and estimate how long each task will take.
- Evaluate the list. Does everything need to be done in the morning? Are there things that can be done the night before? (Personally, I can pack my lunch the night before and also select my outfit for the next day – Week 3: Organize Your Closet, really came in handy).
- Organize your morning so you do similar functions together, in order to be most efficient with your time.
- It’s good to give yourself some cushion with time, especially in the morning.
A question I always ask myself, in planning my schedule is, “What do I want to accomplish?” This is a way to help me focus on what I really need to do. Then I work my way back through to see what steps I need to take in order to achieve my goal/activity.
When planning my day, I look at several aspects, not just for the specific day, but how it correlates to the week and to the month. If you have goals that you are trying to achieve you need to plan that into your schedule accordingly. For example, I am running in the Disney Princess Half Marathon on February 24th which means that I have been scheduling a lot more time for running. I look at my running plan as to how much do I need to accomplish in a month’s perspective, then I break it down to a week’s perspective which in turn tells me how much I should be running for a specific day. Having goals directs the purpose of my day. As the time is coming closer to February 24th, I have been increasing the length of my runs, which of course means more time. I have also increased the frequency of my runs. This is a very meaningful goal and I am putting a lot of focus on my training. When this goal is accomplished, I will add another goal to my list.
My Monday – Friday routine has just recently changed as of this past Monday. This part of the challenge came at the right time. I started a new job and the new hours are from 10am to 6pm whereas before, my hours were mostly 8am – 5pm mixed in with some really late hours. Therefore, it has changed how I navigate the planning of my day. I’m so happy that my schedule has changed where I don’t have to be at work until 10am, which means I leave by 9:30am. I have always liked to be able to workout before work, so that I not only feel better during my day, but also that I have already completed an important task. Then when I get home, I can focus on connecting with my loved ones.
Another one of Jennifer’s ideas that I find extremely helpful is, “setting up a family Launch Pad” which is a “designated home for the items each family member needs for the day”. On a daily basis, I take my purse, my phone, a lunch bag, and my Resources bag which houses a current book/magazine I am reading, a journal and my iPad. If I am going to workout at the gym, I will also have my gym bag. To have all of this organized and in one place makes a lot of sense and saves me time when leaving in the morning. With Jennifer’s tip of a Launch Pad, I created my Launch pad in my office. It is a small bookshelf that fits right under my dry erase board calendar which I use to record and plan my workouts. I showed this in the Week 1 challenge. There is an electrical plug right behind the little bookcase so that I can charge my iPad and phone. I am able to store anything at this Launch Pad that I may need to take with me in preparation for the day. This is where I place my Resources bag.
Looking at the chapter, “Organize Your Evening Routine” helped to provide many great tips. As of right now, we do not have many commitments in the evening, which helps a lot when having a good evening routine. However, there is always room for improvement.
Jennifer helps by outlining the following goals:
- Make a list of everything you need to accomplish in the evening and estimate how long each task takes.
- Be sure to include anything that you moved from your morning routine to your evening routine.” (Page 240) (This is when I will pack my lunch and make sure that I have selected my outfit for the next day. I will also put my iPad back to the Launch pad and organize my Resources bag so that I have everything that I will need for the next day. In addition, if I am going to workout at the gym the next day, I will prepare my gym bag.)
One of my favorite points in this chapter is to “Designate some time just for yourself or your family during these hours. Turn off your cell phone and the television and reconnect.” (page 242) This point is very important to me. By the time you get home and when you go to bed, you may only have a few hours to spend with your loved ones, so it is very important to get what you need done so that you can connect and bond with your family on a daily basis.
I appreciate that Jennifer makes an important point to “set a consistent dinner time and pledge to stick to this meal time as an entire family.” (Page 240) I’m sure this could be difficult if you have a lot of family members with multiple schedules, but for us it’s a very realistic goal. I have found many useful tips in Chapter’s “Organize Your Grocery Shopping” (pages 244-247) and “Organize Your Meal Planning” (pages 248-251) to help us make this a realistic goal.
Using the very simple weekly meal planner/shopping list document that I created for the Week 1 Challenge, will help in planning our meals for the week.
Again, our breakfasts and lunches for our work week are basically the same every week, to keep healthy, therefore, I do not need to plan those out too much. We know what items we will need for breakfast and lunch so I just add that to the shopping list side. We basically have the same type of dinner menu from week to week. I’m noticing that we are getting a little bored with it. In attempt to make our dinner time more exciting, I want to dedicate more time to the planning. In order to accomplish this goal, we are going to have a real “meal planning session” and not the usual one we have 5 minutes prior to leaving the house to go to the grocery store.
In using Jennifer’s tip on page 248, “Go through your cookbooks and recipe collection and list out the ones you can easily prepare and that your family enjoyed eating”, this has encouraged me to look through recipes that I’ve wanted to try. When I go through magazines, I tear out recipes and store them in a hanging file. This is a nice resource to have because they are up to date, where as some cookbooks may be a little dated. However, I do love the cookbooks that I have. We have also been utilizing amazing cooking websites and blogs to find great recipes. Interestingly enough, one of our favorite recipes is from the Bill & Giuliana Rancic’s book “I Do, Now What?” on page 55 – Bill’s Famous Ahi Tuna Recipe. You never know where you’ll find inspiration for a great recipe.
We typically pick recipes that are not too intricate and difficult, especially for meals during the week. We will make recipes that may tend to take a little longer on the weekends, if we eat at home. That way we have more time to enjoy being in the kitchen rather than having a limited time which is typical during the week.
If you only have time to plan a week in advance, I think that is great, but if you can plan a month at a time instead, that would be very beneficial, especially in terms of saving money.
Once you have all of your meals planned and have written down all of the necessary ingredients, now’s the time to planning your shopping.
Jennifer helps by outlining the following goals:
- Make a list of everything you regularly buy at the grocery store. Check your pantry and refrigerator so you don’t forget anything.
- Before you go to the grocery store, quickly organize your refrigerator (week 25) and your pantry (Week 24). While doing this, scan for items you are missing for the meals you have planned. Record these items on the current grocery list print out.
- Use your meal plan (see Week 56) to round out your grocery list. Double-check the recipes to make sure you don’t forget any necessary ingredients before you go grocery shopping.
- Keep your pantry, cupboards and spare closets clean and organized so you can effectively stockpile non-perishables and take full advantage of sales and coupons. Organized food storage lets you know exactly what you have and makes it easy to find the food you are looking for when you are cooking.
- Be aware of your favorite store’s reward policies and use them to your advantage.
This week’s challenge has really helped me to scrutinize my current routines to see what was working and what needed improvement. I have taken to heart Jennifer’s advice and will implement what I learned in my routines. I look forward to critiquing my routine on a daily basis, since we all know life is always changing and evolving. At any given time, I want to be as prepared as possible.
***Please also check out the amazing women who are also participating in the 12 Week Organize Now! Challenge: Jennifer @ Mother Thyme, Bonnie @ House of Grace, Pamela @ the dayton time and Michelle @ Eamich ***