The Power of Routine

Creatures of habit. We put the same hand in our coat sleeve first each time, the same eye up to the viewfinder of a camera, same same. They say we shower the same each day and get dressed in the same order each day, brush our teeth the same, but I don’t buy it. The coronavirus has punctured a hole in our same. Since working as a Wellness Coach, the routine of my life has felt like a non-routine, which is a routine.

Morning routines, work routines, bedtime routines. I like to think of routine as an intricate network of tiny habits. It’s easier to insert new tiny habits to habits that already exist than to remap your life with big swinging changes. Small hinges swing big doors.

My pre-coaching routine looked like this:
But first coffee, kids off to school, gym, shower, library to write. Lunch maybe, but really never, and then mostly errands, kid homework help, dinner situation and TV with multi-tasking laptop scene. Art here and there. A promise to do morning pages, rarely following through. At my most productive, the routine involved the Starbucks within a Target, without internet access and audiobooks before bed. TV was very rare.

And my old writing/parenting/healthy body/friendship-making self knew one thing all too well: Balance is Bullshine. But there are lots of tricks that can help. Who, for example, knows what a Pomodoro is? Go ahead, Google it, then answer in the comments as if you’ve known all along.

My routine since becoming a Life Coach (a term that makes me recoil):
Stretch across the entirety of my bed because I read this makes for a happier person, announce aloud, “Today is going to be a great day;” pee, brush teeth as I do calve-raises, take vitamins & drink a full glass of water, make the bed and play music, sing. Coffee, stair pushups, fill water bottle. Getting dressed came earlier on some days. I work six days a week and every single day, the schedule is completely different. Some days I’m up at the double-asscrack of 5am, others I needn’t be anywhere until 5pm. Art and writing, never.

The Great Coronavirus Routine:
What in the fcuk day is it? And who do I have to run down dead for some fresh produce?

I have zero desire for life to return to how it was pre-pandemic. I’m not waiting for this pandemic to end. I’m not spending my time or energy hoping for a different life or a return to life as it was before. One thing I’ve learned is that being past-focused is limiting. My today is my whole life in miniature. Someday ain’t one of the days of the week, so if I want it one day, it has to be on my schedule today. This new, quarantined normal is my opportunity. I get to create a brand new routine, one that serves the future I want.

How do you craft a routine that serves the exact life you want?
Grab some buckets. Not, bucket buckets, but buckets. Let’s categorize stuff. You know what I love for this exercise? My old friend, the mind map. But first, take this quiz, to help you reveal what actually matters to you. You don’t need to read what I wrote, just how you’d answer those 3 questions. I’ll wait…

Now you know how you want to be remembered in this world, so what needs to go on that list? Everyone’s buckets will be different. Below are my buckets, but yours will look different based on how your brain chooses to organize. Don’t judge your buckets; I should get a tee-shirt made.

Think of your life. Divide it into buckets. I say do this without looking at how someone else does it, but if you need inspiration, here is how I’ve seen life categorized:
Mind, Body, Spirit
Being, Relating, Creating
Eat, Pray, Love (no, not really)
Physical, Mental, Emotional, Spiritual (This doesn’t work for me because mental and emotional are the same)
7: Mental, Financial, Vocational, Spiritual, Familial, Physical, Social
7: Health, Family, Social, Financial, Business, Civic, Spiritual
8: Physical, Emotions and Meaning, Relationships, Time, Career, Finances, Contribution, Spirituality
12: Health/Fitness, Intellectual, Emotional, Character, Spiritual, Romantic Love, Parenting, Social, Financial, Career, Quality of Life, Life Vision

I find all of that overwhelming. Wait, which one is right? What if I do it wrong? Which is why I say, don’t overthink it. Pick your buckets and start to fill ’em. You might miss entire categories. BFD. There’s no bucket police. Truth: certain buckets you just don’t want to change or address right now. You instinctively want to focus in one area or two for the moment. Go with it.

My Buckets & Me, We Like to Climb a Tree. My Buckets & Me, We Are The Best Friends That Can Be:
The irony is not lost on me that I don’t have time to share this now because I’ve spent a lot of time writing this, and now I’m still without makeup and have a Coaching call in 40 minutes and have to boil water for the Konjac noodles, zucchini noodles, and actual pasta noodles for 3 different dinners and appetites to be served tonight with a leeks, saffron and petite peas cream sauce. I’ll be back later to update my buckets. The irony is not lost on me; I’m an Alanis Morissette song.

And, I’m back. Buckets below…

My free-form buckets, how my brain categorizes my life. Observation: I get my most joy from learning. Tea and Perfume, for example, are shorthand because what I actually enjoy most is reading tea and perfume reviews. Yes, it’s an actual thing.

My buckets are BODY, WORK, JOY. I enjoy spending time with family, of course, and am snuggled up with my immediates now. What was interesting to me in this exercise was seeing where WORK and JOY overlap and also where BODY and JOY overlap. Notice most of what brings me joy is creating and learning, so not, say Tennis. These mind-maps let you see patters. I highly recommend it.

Questions to ask yourself

If I had exactly everything I ever wanted, how would I be spending my day? How, within my current reality, can I adapt this to provoke the same emotions?

How do I think I’d feel if I got everything I wanted? Pick three adjectives. Mine today: giddy, peaceful, buzzed

What is the smallest thing I can do today, so when I go to sleep tonight I can feel those feelings? What thoughts would I need to think, which actions would I need to take? For me, I think it’s going to mean writing something, de-cluttering my bedside table and outfitting it with a fancy water decanter and rose candle. Paint my nails. Shave all the things that need it. Moisturize. Blow-dry. Do something artistic. I might want to factor in a glass of Barolo, but I doubt it. Alcohol messes with our sleep. Setting up a routine for tomorrow will help me feel at peace.

If you like these types of self-development exercises, you’ll love doing this one, too, about revealing your natural strengths.

Post your “New Normal, Better Life Routine” below. I could use some ideas.

Very timely book by Austin Kleon Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad
One thing I’m going to try: Art before Breakfast by Danny Gregory
Back to my Morning Pages a la Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way
Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg

Journal cover


  1. Another insightful post that had me thinking the entire time! It’s amazing how much we learn about ourselves when we stop for a moment & truly reflect on what our lives & daily routines are. Since I am a learner, your blog posts resonate so well with me because they make me dig deep & that’s not something we have time to do on a daily basis. Thanks for sharing yours!

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