How to Create an Effective, Peaceful Routine

I am a big believer in regularly assessing our routines or schedules and making sure they are working for us (or dumping them). Why should January have all the fun? There is no point in continuing in a pattern that isn’t serving you and making your life better. So we can start fresh any time we want.

Routines don’t come naturally to me. But I love them because they help me prioritize and do the things my heart really wants to do, instead of allowing my life to just happen to me.

Getting Started

Here are a few questions to get you started.

  1. My favorite way to start the day, that makes me happy, is _______
  2. I feel best when I get ____ hours of sleep
  3. The kind of spiritual/quiet time I can do most consistently is (content, amount of time) ______
  4. My body feels best when I  incorporate __________ in my day (eat certain foods, exercise, stretch, etc)
  5. I feel I can focus and start my day at rest most easily if I _________.
These questions are meant to get you thinking about the best ways to start and organize your day. Answer the questions for yourself and then use the tips below to help you start a new routine. And remember – make it flexible – and be ready to adjust it as needed.

Strategies for Deciding What Goes in Your Routine

Tip #1

One of my favorite things is morning routines. The way we start our morning informs how the rest of our day will go. Your routine should be enjoyable, flexible and serve you (You don’t serve it.) This is especially helpful if you struggle like I do with worry or anxiety.⁠ ⁠

Routines don’t come naturally to me, and I’m not perfect at following them. But that’s NOT the goal. It’s just aligning the actions of my day with my heart intentions. When I fall off the routine, I just start it up again.⁠ ⁠

Part of my morning routine is spending some kind of time with God. Lately I’ve thrown out all fancy plans and studies and just read scripture with my kids as part of my morning routine. ⁠It’s been so refreshing.⁠

⁠If you want a little help putting together the morning part of your routine, I have a 10-MINUTE routine I do each morning that helps me unburden my mind, focus on my priorities and get to a place of peace. You can find it here for free.⁠

Tip # 2

I was lying in my bed for the 5th time the other day (#quarantinelife) when my husband walked in and said, “What’s going on?” I said, “I’m lying here because I don’t know what to do” and then this slipped out of my mouth – “What happens in quarantine, stays in quarantine.” ⁠

This saying has a double meaning – A. there are some things that happen in quarantine that should stay between us. B. there are some things that happen in quarantine that shouldn’t continue after it’s done, such as infrequent showering. ⁠;)⁠

Tip #2 is this – we don’t waste ANY time beating ourselves up for what we haven’t accomplished yet or how we’ve spent our time in the past. We can learn from it – what worked and didn’t – but otherwise let’s leave it in the past and look forward. What kind of life do you want to create? Set a flexible routine that SERVE YOU and help you move in that direction.⁠

Tip # 3

Find things to do that both serve your purposes and that you also enjoy! Why do we feel like we have to fill our schedules with things we don’t like but are good for us? How long do we expect those resolutions to last? (Not long, for me) ⁠

For example, fitness. I’m not trying to win any gold medals at the Olympics here (even tho I know you were wondering!), I’m just trying to be healthy. I can beat myself up with workouts I don’t like or find fun things to do that also serve as a workout.

So what things on your routine are there because you’re “supposed” to do them but you don’t LIKE them? Get rid of them! Find a way to do what you need but also what you enjoy.⁠

Tip # 4

Do you remember in Finding Nemo “Find a happy place! find a happy place!” The memory of that funny scene has gotten me through more than a handful of dental appointments. It also become one of my mantras awhile back after getting totally overwhelmed with mothering three young kids. ⁠

Your happy place will be different than mine, but they are essential to our wellbeing. Why do we prioritize work and material things and media over our joy? Or why do we think we don’t deserve it, or that it’s not part of God’s plans for us. I absolutely believe it is. ⁠

Day #4 Tip – Make time for fun. Schedule things in your calendar that bring you joy. ⁠And make these times centered on fun – without electronics and other distractions you don’t need. Your mind needs a break sometimes.

Tip # 5

I am a fledgling gardener. And my plants are proof of that. I got really excited when I bought those seed packets with the pretty pictures. Even more excited when I dumped them into the soil. And now I have glorious green sprouting everywhere, and there is little room for the plants to grow. They won’t grow well if they don’t have margin, and we are the same.⁠

As we emerge from quarantine, maybe there are things we can weed out of our lives (pun intended) that make space for us to breathe, to think, to rest, to have more quality time instead of just a large quantity of activities.⁠

When we allow margin in our routine, instead of booking up every moment, we can be more relaxed, especially when things don’t go well. We can move more slowly. We can do things WELL. We can finish what we start. ⁠

If a voice in your head is saying, “But, But, But…” because everything feels necessary, it’s just not true. Every thing is not necessary. So figure out which things really are, and make your time really count.⁠

Tip #6

Feeling tired? I have been staying up late during this whole pandemic. Why? Probably stuff rumbling around in my brain and some lack of discipline and some feeling out of sorts. ⁠

Staying up late used to be my go-to. I thought it made me happy. I said, “I’m a night owl. It’s just what I do.” But ultimately it made me miserable because children wake up EARLY. I think every year of my 30s I became more exhausted. ⁠

Getting more sleep has changed my life more than just about anything else, except for Jesus. ⁠

We need our rest to be fully present, to enjoy our days, to GROW.⁠

How much rest (nighttime and otherwise) do you need? How can you make it happen more regularly?⁠

Putting it all together

Which things are most important for you to do in order to start your day with peace and purpose? Just do those things.

Commit to the routine for two weeks and then adjust as necessary. Don’t let guilt keep you from continuing when you fall off your routine. You are human and life happens, so it will happen. No problem, start it up again.

If you want a little help finding a quick, effective way to start the morning, I’ve outlined my favorite peaceful morning routine in a PDF. You can download it for free here.