For a long time, I’ve been caught up in the idea of making routines. I believe I first encountered a night routine or morning routine mentioned in a book when I was about 7, and I went through that phase of life when I watched seemingly all the morning and night routines on YouTube.
And yet, I never could figure out how to create one for myself that I could stick to. Sure, I could type one up easily right now including on it a timeline of when I want everything to be done by, but sticking to my routine is another story. I always seem to get a big burst of productivity and create a routine that I’m proud of, saying ‘I will start this perfect routine tomorrow’, and when tomorrow comes, all my motivation is gone and I struggle to attend to the basics – getting clothes on and eating breakfast – before meandering out the door (with smudged glasses, might I add).
By the evening, I am way too tired to adhere to my scheduled night routine, and I either stay up late and go to bed without showering or I shower and am so tired that I just fall into bed in whatever pajamas were left out from the night before.
Does this sound familiar to you? Maybe my struggles will help you realize you’re not alone and hopefully will help you to create routines that work for you.
Phase 1: Planning
I’ve had many times when I’ve planned and planned and then eventually just ripped up the paper because no matter what I did, it wasn’t working! This time around, I went about things a different way. I knew that I wanted to take a half hour to ‘wind-down’ from the day before bed, and I wanted to be asleep (or starting to fall asleep) by 9. So, bingo. I have an alarm set for my ‘wind-down’ time at 8:30 every night. Ideally, I wouldn’t be using my phone during this time, but I’m still working on that part (shh- don’t tell). That is the last step of my night routine.
There isn’t really a ‘set’ time my night routine starts, at least for now. Setting one would help so that I’m not on my computer doing homework (jk – editing pictures or watching YouTube) until 8:30 when my alarm rings – by which point I’m supposed to have showered already and be in my pajamas. This has happened to me before, and it’s not a great feeling. However, I want to go slowly into making this routine, because making something super structured first and then trying to stick to it is REALLY CHALLENGING for me. If it works for you, great! I wish I was that way. But since I’m not, I’m learning to work with myself.
I also knew I wanted to shower every night and make it both a habit and part of my routine. So I added that, but again not really in a ‘set time’ kind of way.
Phase 2: Execution
Just do it. I know, it’s easier said than done. I did create a blog post on some productivity tips which can help with the ‘doing’ part of the routine, or really, of anything. This is one reason I started with a night routine. That way I didn’t have the excuse of ‘I will start tomorrow’ to hide behind. Also, when the weather changes, my skin always freaks out, so I wanted a more consistent shower routine as an attempt to combat looking like a monster. This is one important step to execution: motivation! Finding something motivating, at least until you make the habit, is extremely important. It could be extrinsic or intrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is always better, but anything is better than nothing.
Set an alarm! For me, it’s currently working to just have a clock (on my computer or my phone) and my alarm set at 8:30. I know that it goes off at 8:30, so I can be prepared.
Phase 3: My Routine
- Set up my music on my phone. I do not currently have many playlists on my phone (something that has been on my to-do list for a while), so I shuffle my songs and remove from the list any that I don’t want to listen to that night.
- Shower (it depends on the night whether I wash my hair or not. I’m still trying to decide what’s best for my hair – washing it every day or every other day). At the very minimum to keep the routine going in order to create a habit, I need to get into the water. When I am in the shower I also wash my face with a circular scrub brush and brush my hair with a comb (on the days I condition it – if I don’t, I can’t get through it).
- Dry off and get into pajamas. Since it’s fall and it’s pretty cold here right now, I like to do this as quickly as possible. When I was younger, being cold after showering would mean that I just wouldn’t shower. Not a very smart move for my skin, but if you think about it psychologically, it makes sense. I’m not saying it was a good idea, but it did make sense.
- Brushing my teeth. Kind of self-explanatory.
- After brushing my teeth, I take the cup on my counter and pour it out into the sink. The cup holds my retainers that I put in cleaning solution that morning. I rinse out the cup and use it to rinse my mouth. I also rinse my retainers at the same time. Then I put them in my mouth. (Hopefully, there will come a day when I no longer have to wear retainers. They are not fun.)
- Moisturizing time! I use a moisturizing night cream by Olay at night, which has anti-aging properties. I’m only 20 and have frown lines! Although I think that’s more from the fact that I am blind and have to squint all day than it is from aging…
- Take any medications with water
- Turn on my sun simulator/bedside light (because who wants to get out of a warm bed and turn off the lights! Not me)
- Walk across the room and turn off the overhead lights
- Get into bed! (probably my favorite time of the day) This is around the time my 8:30pm alarm goes off.
- Journal or read (if I’m doing a little yoga I will do that before getting into bed but after my alarm goes off)
- Turn my sun simulator/bedside light to turn off in 20 minutes – it gets dimmer and finally turns off over 20 minutes. It’s really cool!
- Lay down and try to sleep on my back. (I’ve been having back problems so I’m trying to sleep on my back in the hopes that that will help. It’s not as comfy, but if it means I’m not in pain 24/7 I’ll take the trade)
Sometime in my night routine I also usually have to feed Dobby and scoop his box. Although it all varies based on what time he finishes his food (sometimes in the afternoon), and when he uses his box. I usually scoop it periodically throughout the day, but I check it before going to bed.
Phase 4: What I Want to Add
- Drinking tea! I feel like drinking a warm cup of herbal tea while reading a book in bed is the perfect way to wind down from the day. I am trying to figure out a way to do this without leaving a dirty cup out all night.
- Putting lotion on my body. I sometimes do this, but I would like to make it a habit (especially as the air dries out going into winter). Again, I’m going one step at a time. I will be adding this to my night routine soon.
- Brushing Dobby! It’s always harder to tell a cat ‘I want you to jump onto my bed so I can brush you before going to sleep’. But if we can get into this habit together, it would be really nice.
- Filling up my water cup on my desk every night so it’s always full of cold water in the morning.
- A morning routine! This will be coming soon. I already have the routine of taking out my retainers and putting them in to soak, taking my vitamins, and making Dobby breakfast. But again, one step at a time.
I have a question for you: Do you wash your face outside of the shower ever? If you do, how do you keep from getting water all over yourself and the counter? I would really like to know your responses! Answering this question would also help me in creating my morning routine.
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