Productivity How to Rescue Your AM/PM Routines

by Lauren Tucker | June 17, 2020

Looking to create more balance, focus and consistency in your life?

It starts with establishing — and sticking to — solid routines to begin and end your day.

Taking steps at the outset of each day to feel energized, inspired and rested will help you focus on the tasks ahead. And, making time at the end of the day to wind down, calm your mind and body to set you up for a good night’s sleep.

But how do you actually design a routine that works? Instead of going on about the importance of routines, let’s make them. And I have some printable resources below that can help, too.

What are morning and evening routines?

Morning and evening routines are a set of prioritized self-care tasks performed within a certain period of time first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I choose to list out mine in checklist form (but there’s no “right” way to design them):

Lauren’s morning routine (5:00 – 6:00 a.m.)

  • Spiritual readings with coffee in bed
  • Make bed
  • Shower, sunscreen, brush teeth, dress
  • Budget check-in and cash flow
  • Check-in with emails, direct messages and social
  • Daughter up

Lauren’s evening routine (8:45 - 9:00 p.m.)

  • Ensure kitchen is clean for next morning (#cleankitchenatnight is the best feeling for a productive morning)
  • Personal care (wash face, brush teeth)
  • Put phone down
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You may find success with visual reminders of your goals posted around your home.
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What do my current routines say about me? For one thing, I have de-prioritized grooming tasks like hair styling and makeup; I find no joy in them and have therefore removed them from my routines. I also prioritize a financial check-in each day, and knock off communications like social networking early so they don’t bog me down later.

If you’re like me, you may find success with visual reminders of your goals posted around your home. Having a physical piece of paper posted in key areas of your home where you will be performing your AM and PM routines will be a massive help as you take steps to make these new tasks into a habit that no longer requires thinking or reminders.

Can you use a habit app for this? Absolutely and I use one myself. However, having an image as a reminder — like a printable task list — will increase the likelihood you will complete your habits that make up the routine. Instead of having to reach for your phone and open an app, this printable will be staring you in the face demanding to be taken seriously.

Whatever tasks make your list, this handy printable can help you design your routines.

Draft your routine

Start with elimination. Taking an honest look (without judgement) at what doesn’t work for you and your life is key to designing — and maintaining — solid routines.

When my daughter was born, my morning routine was pared down to one task: showering. Skin care, yoga, meditation and even social media was on pause in those early newborn months. Routines are about nourishing yourself, not trying to conform to someone else's ideal of what self-care is.

Now it's time to look at what you do want to incorporate. Choosing items to fit into your morning and evening routines is like shopping at your favorite store: Everything fits and is perfect for you. What would make you feel ready for the day and the best version of yourself? Ten extra minutes for a relaxing shower? Meditation? A budgeting check in (that's a priority for me)?

Looking to the end of the day, what will help you wind down and relax? For me that is as simple as turning my phone to silent, signaling to my brain that it's time to sleep. For you it could light stretching or a calming cup of tea.

It's ultimately about defining what well-being means for you  and prioritizing it. 

Woman drinking coffee and reading book on bed

Time block it to rock it

You’ve figured out the essentials of your routines (that’s a big deal!). Now, figure out how much time you’re going to allocate to each and assess your schedule as a whole. Enter: Time Blocking. 

Time Blocking is high on my list of favorite things — right under budgeting. It’s assigning a block of time to complete a group of tasks that are similar in nature.

Add up the amount of time you’re going to need for both your routines, then find slots in your schedule. I reverse engineer this. Answer:

1. What time do you normally wake up/go to bed?

2. How long do you need to complete your routine?

If you need an hour to complete your morning routine, then you will either need to wake up earlier or shift the next time block forward. For most, shifting the next time block forward is hard to do, so my suggestion is to try and wake up earlier. Don’t hate me, I promise this will help.

Make it happen

Developing routines that work for you will take time, but if you build it into your schedule they will become second nature, especially when you’re reaping the benefits.

Just be honest with yourself and revisit your plan often to ensure that you’re maximizing your routines. Developing routines that work perfectly for you and your life will ultimately improve every area of your life. You will feel energized, focused, organized and ready to tackle big goals.

Lauren Tucker

is the woman behind ‘An Organized Life’. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Lauren traded in her figure skates for sunscreen and now resides outside the San Francisco area. She can usually be found caffeinated and budgeting.