Are you one of those people who love to hit your snooze button in the morning? But once you get your day going, it does not take you long to realize you are behind. Often rushing out the door to get the kids to school on time, or get to work. I’ll even bet you forget something most days. I was like you at one time! Then, I started incorporating daily routines, and I found myself less rushed, less forgetful, and more importantly, less stressed! Today, I want to share with you how you can incorporate a routine in your Bullet Journal, and take back control of your time!
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The Benefits of Having A Daily Routine
Incorporating a daily routine in your Bullet Journal can be very beneficial for you. It has been said that setting up routines and following through with them can help improve mental health, reduce stress, and increase productivity which in turn opens up more time for self-care, and sleep. If you are anything like me, you value your sleep greatly, so this part is very important. But how does all of this work?
Remember when you were a kid, and every day seemed like the same routine. You woke up, perhaps you had a bath. Your brushed your hair and teeth and ate your breakfast. Then it was off to school, Once you got home, it was homework, then dinner. If you were lucky, there was some time to spare to play a game or watch a movie before it was bedtime. That right there is what a routine is.
As adults, we often discover freedom from the routine our parents set for us as children. This is fine and dandy until one day you wake up and realize that you are living in complete chaos. The laundry has not been done for 2 weeks, and you have no food in your fridge. You are always stressed and tired, and can never seem to get ahead. You are wondering, how can I stay on top of everything, and still get some much-needed sleep? This is where a daily routine can come in really handy for you.
There are so many benefits to utilizing a daily routine! Check out this blog post from skilledatlife.com where they go over 18 reasons why a daily routine is so important. They break it down really well, and there are some really important points to be discussed here.
But the reason I am here today is not just to convince you that you should be implementing a routine for yourself. I am here to show you HOW to implement that routine. Because that is the real challenge!
Using A Bullet Journal To Set Up Your Routine
When creating a routine for yourself, it is important to set it up in a way where you can refer to it often, and be held accountable to it. A Bullet Journal provides you all the space you need to do just that.
If this is your first time hearing Bullet Journal, you may be thinking what the heck is a Bullet Journal? I have an entire series dedicated to not only what is a Bullet Journal, but also how to set one up! If you are new to the concept, I suggest you start at the first post of this series, How To Start A Bullet Journal – The Basics, or head over to the original Bullet Journal Method website! In a nutshell, the Bullet Journal is an analog planning and productivity system created by Ryder Carroll. All you need is a notebook and a pen.
To get started, you are going to create a very simple layout for your routine that can be referred to often. The simple act of creating a routine and writing it down is only a fraction of what you need to do to actually implement the strategies. I want to ensure that you have a reminder to refer to it often, hold yourself accountable, and change certain things if they are not working for you. By incorporating this in other various spreads you already have set up, you will be on the way to achieving your perfect routine!
Creating Your Routine
There are two times a day where I suggest you set routines for yourself. The morning when you first wake up, and in the evening before you go to bed. The morning is when we are considered to be our most productive selves. And by accomplishing tasks in the evening, you set yourself up to be able to take the time we need in the morning.
The Morning Routine
This is definitely the most popular routine you will see people implementing in their daily lives. There are many studies out there that say we are the most productive in the early morning, or in the first few hours after we wake. This has led many to suggest that you take the time to wake up and implement habits that will set your day up for success. This can include things like;
- Make your bed
- Read for fifteen minutes
- Drink a glass of water
- Eat a healthy breakfast
- Go for a walk
- Plan your day
- Get ready – hair, makeup, brush your teeth
Once you have taken the time to take care of yourself, it is time to tackle productivity! Since we are considered to be the most productive in the first few hours after waking up, it is suggested that you tackle your biggest projects of the day first.
You may or may not have heard the expression, “eat the frog!” This expression comes from Mark Twain who once said: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day”. By applying this expression to our daily tasks, we know that we should tackle our biggest or worst project first. Once that is done, you can look forward to the rest of your day knowing the worst is out of the way.
The Evening Routine
While creating an evening routine is not quite as popular, I still think it has a lot of benefits. By maintaining good habits and tackling certain tasks in the evening, we are setting ourselves up for success the next day. This can include things like;
- Make your families lunches
- Prepare your breakfast
- Set up the coffee pot
- Layout your clothes for the next day
- Wash your face and brush your teeth
The final thing I suggest you add to your evening routine is reading until you fall asleep. Many studies show that there are many benefits to reading before we go to bed that you cannot get from watching t.v or being on social media.
Now that you have decided what you are going to include in your routine, it is time to create your Bullet Journal routine spread! This page is something you will be able to refer back to often. It will help you to stay on track and achieve your goals.
Setting Up Your Routine In Your Journal
For the first design, I decided to create a time bar style, to go along with my basic list. I really love the simplicity of this layout! It only took me about six minutes to create.
To begin with, I drew out my header with some faux calligraphy! I love to use free printable worksheets to practice my hand lettering. It is something I just recently started doing, so I am not very good… yet! If you want to start lettering, I absolutely love Dawn Nicole’s blog, and she has some amazing free practice pages. For this header, I used her printable from this blog post, and I used style two or Honilad.
Next, I wrote out the times of the day down the center of the page. I wrote mine in one-hour increments, using one grid space for each time slot.
Using a ruler, I drew two straight lines down either side of the time to create the bar style.
The final step is to fill in your routine! Write down what task or habit you plan to do at each time of the day. You can either write your morning routine on one side of the bar and your evening routine on the other side. Alternatively, you may wish to alternate each habit onto either side of the bar. (If yours looks anything like mine, it will be all over the place from adding new habits over time!)
Note: If you don’t want to do your time bar down the middle of the page, you could do it along the right or left side too! Then you would just write down your tasks/habits along the side.
For the second design, I wanted to do more of a list-style spread. I used some pretty banners to separate the day. This spread took me a little longer, but still only took about fifteen minutes in total.
To begin with, I wrote out my header along the top of the page with the same faux calligraphy that I used in the first design.
Next, I used one of my stencils from this Bullet Journal stencil kit, to draw out a couple of pretty banners! If you do not have the stencils, that is okay! Drawing banners is actually pretty easy! Here is a great YouTube video from Doodles by Sarah that will show you how to do it!
If you don’t want to use banners, you could underline your text, or use a marker to highlight it!
I placed the first banner in the middle of my page, and about one grid space below my header! I then counted out the remaining grid spaces going down my page, and placed the second banner as close to the middle as possible!
I decided I wanted to dress up the banners a little bit, so I filled them in with a black marker. Next, I used my white Uni-Ball Signo Gel pen to write out “morning” and “evening” on each of the banners. This is my favorite Gel pen ever! You have to let what you are writing on dry completely! Once it is dry, you get a really nice white ink from this pen!
For my final step, I listed out the habits and tasks of my routine below the banners for both weekdays (when I work) and weekends (when I am home).
How To Hold Yourself Accountable, and Follow The Routine
Setting up a routine is just one small part of what you need to do! Now you need to make all of these tasks daily habits. It will take time, but one day, it will just be second nature to you! You won’t even need to think about doing it or remind yourself. But until then, how do we train ourselves to follow our routines?
The best way is to pair it up with some other spreads I highly suggest you include in your Bullet Journal!
This is probably one of the best ways to hold yourself accountable. Plus, there are many ways in which you could do it!
- Track each habit that is on your daily routine! For this, you would track each habit individually that is included in your routine. You would then mark off every day that you complete each task.
- Track your daily routine as one habit on your tracker! For this, you would mark off each day that you completed your routine in full!
If you are not a huge fan of habit trackers, then I would suggest incorporating this into your weekly/daily planning spreads. Here are a couple of ideas of how you could do it!
- Create a daily task that is just for your routine! When you create your task list, you could include a spot for daily routine. At the end of the day, if you completed the whole routine, you could mark that task as complete.
- Create a daily journal entry! At the end of the day, sit down, and reflect on how you did with your routine that day. If you completed everything, you could explain your reward, or how completing everything made you feel. If you weren’t able to complete everything, you could share the obstacles that got in your way. These could be mental, physical or emotional barriers.
Perhaps you want to be able see your progress on your monthly pages! Here are a couple of ideas on how you could track it!
- Create a mini routine somewhere on your monthly spread! When creating your monthly spread, plan out a small space for your daily routine. This works really well if you are flipping back to your monthly page when planning your dailies! This also works really well if your routine changes a lot!
- Color Code A Calendar! Color coding in your Bullet Journal can be so much fun! You could create a small monthly calendar layout somewhere on the monthly spread. Then, create a color code for it. Example; Red means you completed your morning routine. Green means you completed your evening routine. Purple means you completed your entire daily routine! At the end of each day, you would go back to the calendar on your monthly spread, and mark the day with a colored dot to mark which routine you were able to achieve!
Whatever way you decide to hold yourself accountable, make sure you are actually doing it consistently. Unfortunately, consistency is the only way you will train your mind and body to do this every day! You also need to be able to go back and reflect! What does this mean?
Reflecting On Your Routine
This is the final step in using your Bullet Journal to utilize a daily routine.
Reflection is so important! In order to ensure your system is working for you, you need to be able to look back and reflect!
The following is a list of reflection questions I want you to ask yourself after the first month of using a daily routine in your Bullet Journal.
Did I complete my entire daily routine at least 15 days this month?
What were some of my obstacles to completing my daily routine?
Is there anything I want to add or take away from my daily routine?
Did I complete my morning routine at least 20 days this month?
Did I complete my evening routine at least 20 days this month?
Do I need to move around any of my tasks to make it easier to accomplish one of my routines?
Did I see any benefits from my daily routine?
By asking yourself these questions, you will be able to determine if this system is working for you.
If it isn’t, that is okay. Try something new.
But, if it was working, and you just weren’t able to complete as much as you want, that is an easy fix! Move some stuff around. Determine if anything can be eliminated.
Finally, if you found this system works really well for you, then all you need to decide is if you want to add to it, adjust it, or leave it the same!
How To Reflect
In order to answer these questions, you need to be able to see your results. This is where the daily accountability portion that I suggested above becomes so handy!
In this example, I am going to use the monthly calendar color code.
To answer the first question, you would go look at that calendar, and count how many purple dots you have.
The second question may require a bit of time and thinking. Sit back, and try to think of the days where you didn’t complete all the tasks. Feel free to take it a step further and determine the why! Did you sleep in because you were up to late the night before? Did you get stuck in crazy traffic on the way home, which ended up eating an extra hour out of your night? All of these reasons can help you determine why these tasks didn’t happen, and what you can do to avoid them in the future.
For the third question, try to think about if there was anything you thought about trying last month. Maybe you wanted to carve out time to look at emails or feed your cats. Write down what those items were, so you can work them into your new routine.
The fourth and fifth questions are similar to your first question. Again, go back to your color-coded monthly calendar, and record how many colored dots you have!
For the sixth question, I want you to look for any potential patterns. Perhaps you were able to complete 22 of your morning routines, but only 12 of your evening routines. Try to determine if any of your tasks can be moved around in the day to help you achieve all of your daily goals! For example, if you are making your lunch in the evening, but skipping on the reading, then that is no good. Is it possible for your situation to make your lunch in the morning to free up some time in the evening?
And for the final question, you need to be very honest with yourself! Did this system work for you? The main purpose of the Bullet Journal is to live an intentional lifestyle. If the spread does not benefit you in any way, then you may want to consider getting rid of it. At least for now! If you want to revisit it in six months or a year, you totally can!
You made it! That was a lot of information, and I am sure your brain has gone into overdrive. There was a lot of material, and I want you to take the time to go over everything property. So here is what I suggest!
Carve out three days. On day one, do some research on routines. Maybe you even want to buy a book! Make sure you understand the purpose of a routine, and what one can do for you!
On day two, brainstorm what you want to include in your routine. What are some things that are important to you? What are the habits you want to be doing every day?
Finally, on day three, create your spreads! If you use the simple routine spread above and pair it with my tracker spread created in this blog post, you could have both of your spreads ready to use in less than 45 minutes!
Let me know how your routine works for you in the comments below! And of course, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me!
Until next time!