06 February 2012

Step 5: Simple Scheduling and Planning Routines

A full list of the Simple Living Challenge steps can be found here. 

I wonder why scheduling and planning gets so much bad press nowadays. It seems like it is hip to go with the flow but while this looks cool and leisurely on the outside it hides the danger of loosing your purpose.

True simplification can be achieved when we rid our lives of the unnecessary. How can we do that if we don't know what we are doing? To identify what is the most important, to be able to free up time to do what we love, to stay focused on our goals and dreams we need organization. The more chaotic and time constrained life is, the more important it is to integrate some kind of routine. 

Photo: foreverdigital

When I was a kid I had trouble organizing anything. I always diligently took my daily schedule to show at school but never actually followed it. I must have been good at pretending because no teacher ever realized I was cheating and yet, this inability to follow a routine has always been in the back of my mind as a goal to achieve.

It took me years of busy and stressful life to finally get it: Whatever the bohemes tell you, don't listen to them. You need a schedule. You need a routine. You need organization.

Why you need a plan?
  • Planning your day rids you of stress.
  • Following a plan helps you get organized naturally.
  • When you create a daily routine, you actually free up time.

Planning your day the evening before
While a morning routine is especially important for starting out on the right foot and defining your day, an evening routine has an even higher value. When I read Leo Babauta's tip for jumpstarting his day the evening before I realized that was what my mother taught me to do when I became a 1st grader: I always had my clothes and school bag ready in the evening. Things have slightly changed ever since but unwittingly I am still following an evening routine.

While it can be different for you, you can easily adjust, add or remove bullets from the list of the evening routine:
  • Clean up, do the dishes (if you haven't cleaned as you go), so in the morning you get the pleasant surprise of a tidy home.
  • Prepare your/your kids' clothes/breakfast for the next day.
  • Plan the meals for the day.
  • Write down your most important tasks for the next day.
  • Get to bed and evaluate the past day.
  • Go to sleep thinking of your dreams.
I have noticed how much my daily routine has changed after I started listing my tasks the night before, while I am still in the vibe and have them on my mind. Many of you shared in the comments of Step 2 of our simplifying challenge that it would be great if we women are able to shut off our brains like men do and simply fall asleep in the evening. I must say that this is very much achievable. Once you make your list for the next day, your mind is free, there is no need to remember anything, the notebook has it all. Now your mind is ready for positively charging dreams!

Photo: kanelstrand

How to stay focused
You simply need to write your tasks on a piece of paper. I usually get about five important tasks. Much more can be done in addition of course, but being able to see your most important tasks several times during the day will keep you stress free and focused on completing them.

I used to get carried away quite often while researching a topic on the Internet, jumping from idea to idea. I sure did get lost a couple of hundred times, resulting in wasted days with nothing achieved. But now I have my tiny notepad on my desk which I consult and make sure I am on track.

After introducing the notepad (which is not even fancy) to my daily routine and desk I must say that not only I am more focused on achieving my goals but I take the steps to fulfilling my dreams in much shorter time.

I have mentioned that the first step to fulfilling your dreams is to write them down. The funny thing is that it doesn't appear on the surface that you need to do anything more than that. Reading them, going through your daily tasks gives your mind the incentive it needs and soon the whole machine of miracle making gets going without you consciously taking part.

You can do this!
Follow the evening organizational steps I’ve listed above. It is important that you list no more than five tasks for tomorrow. Your aim is not to get overwhelmed with too much things to do but to exercise in planning.

Share your experience: How did you sleep? Was there any difference on the next morning? Do you think you saved time and freed it to do something you like?

See also:
Step 1: Embrace Your Imperfections
Step 2: Simple Living as Men's Trait
Step 3: The Rules of Simple Home Organization
Step 4: Simple crafting for Happy People
Step 6: Spend More Time With the People You Love
Step 7: Spend More Time Alone
Step 8: Connect to Your Inner Self
Step 9: How to De-Stress 
Step 10: Learn to Live With Less and Enjoy it
Step 11: Start a Debt-Free Life
Step 12: How to Overcome Consumerism 
Step 13: Declutter Your Life 
Step 14: Get Rid of Toxic Cosmetics and Reclaim Your Natural Self  
Step 15: Wean Off Plastic  
Step 16: Celebrate Your Story  
The Final Step: Gratitude 

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