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How to Set Daily Routines You’ll *Probably* Stick To

Leave the celery juice in 2021.

At the start of the year, we’re willing to bet that you sat down and wrote out a list of New Year’s resolutions to help you become that girl. Yet many of us have already said, “I’ll start on January 3rd” (what petitions do we have to sign to make new years start on Mondays?). Before those resolutions are as forgotten as your March 2020 Tupperware that’s growing mold in the office fridge, we implore you to start by setting set some simple daily routines.

The phrase ‘daily routines’ might evoke mental imagery of celery juice, 6am F45 classes and hour-long meditation rituals. We’d like to go on the record and state that this is not what a routine needs to look like. Especially since celery juice would in fact ruin many of our mornings.
Daily Routines - morning reading

What are daily routines?

Many of us think of routines as the activities we perform when we first wake up or right before we get into bed. While those types of daily routines are great to have, they can also take place wherever we need some extra structure. The objective of a routine is to prepare us for something, like starting our days on the right foot or getting into the headspace to start work. Hint hint: it’s probably not waking up ten minutes before the workday begins.

Maybe you feel like you need more structure before studying. Your routine might be to pour a cup of coffee and clean your space to get into the right frame of mind. For an extra push before hitting the gym, establish a routine of filling up a Hydro Flask, stretching, and putting on a high-energy playlist.

Heck, you might even create a ‘going out’ routine to enter the club with Beyonce-level confidence. We are *all* Sasha Fierce.
Daily Routines - Coffee

Why should you set daily routines?

Daily routines can (and should) be enjoyable processes put in place to help us accomplish our goals. They’re the things we can do every day that get us one step closer to the person we want to be. Maybe for you, that’s the person who reads 26 books a year, or the person who cooks their own meals. We’re breaking up with you, UberEats.

Not only do they get you one step closer to your dream self–they also make you feel like a boss (picture Miranda Priestly, but nicer). Who wouldn’t feel good getting to Saturday and realizing they flossed every single day? It’s the little things, people.
Daily Routines - reading

Examples of Daily Routines

We’re not suggesting you structure your whole day (unless that’s your thing, Type A queen), but cherry pick a few routines that would benefit you and go from there. Here are some examples of routines you might consider implementing in your life.

Daily Routines - Skincare Routine

How to Set Daily Routines You’ll *Probably* Stick To

The point of a routine is that it becomes… well, routine. Habitual, if you will. There are some tips and tricks to setting routines that will make them a lot easier to stick to. Even if you’re a chronic starter and not a chronic finisher (hopefully not in the sack).

One of our favorite experts in this area is James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. If you’re serious about building successful routines, we recommend that you read his book to learn some genuinely helpful tips on how to create habits that last. Here’s the TLDR.
Daily Routines - Atomic Habits James Clear

1. Make your routines realistic by starting small.

The kryptonite to consistent daily routines is over-complication. If you’re not the kind of person who already works out frequently, fat chance you’ll stick to a routine that requires you work out for 60 minutes everyday. Nobody morphs into Kayla Itsines overnight (nor does anyone need to, btw).

In Atomic Habits, James Clear talks about how the most effective way to create sticky habits is to start small and focus on changing your identity. You can change your identity by committing to completing a task day-after-day, no excuses.

For example, if you set a goal to read for an hour everyday and never do, then you feel like the-girl-who-never-reads-enough. But if you set a realistic goal to read for 10 minutes each day and stick to it, then you feel like a reader. Once you feel like a reader, it becomes easier to increase that daily reading time or challenge yourself with new goals.
Daily Routines - workout routine

2. Make sure they’re aligned with your goals.

Emphasis on *your* goals. TikTok and YouTube will trick you into thinking everyone’s morning routine takes 3 hours and requires a series of complicated steps, many of which include celery juice. But if you hate meditating and couldn’t care less about journaling, your morning routine will feel like a trip to hell, which won’t inspire you to repeat it.

Good daily routines are a marriage of the things you already do with the things you want to do. If you’re already drinking a cup of coffee in the morning, but want to become someone who goes for daily walks, why not take your coffee in a to-go mug for a stroll outside?

Whatever you do, don’t let Instagram dictate your routines. If you feel good waking up at 8am and laying in bed for an extra 30-minutes watching YouTube, then live your truth! Again, your routines should set you up for your best version of the day.
Daily Routines - walk with coffee

3. Modify your environment to make your daily routines easier to achieve.

Daily routines are like grocery shopping. While you’re grocery shopping, the odds are good that you try to buy healthier options so that next time you want a snack, you binge eat carrots instead of Cheetos. This is you modifying your kitchen cabinets to make healthier habits easier. Do this with your routines.

Want to read before bed? Keep a book on your nightstand at all times. Trying to go for a walk every morning? Pick out your walking podcast or playlist the night before. Want to stay off social media after 9 PM? Lock yourself out of Instagram with your phone’s ‘downtime’ feature.

Sticking to a workout routine is so much harder when you can’t find your running shoes. Reading everyday will never happen if you don’t have a book to read. Make your life friction-less and the routine will follow.
Daily Routines - bedside table with book

4. Track your progress.

Nobody is above checklists. Whether you’re an ISTJ or an ENFP, there’s an undeniable tingle that comes from checking a box.

The options for habits to track are endless– your walks, workouts, books read, dollars saved, journal entries written. Habit trackers can take many shapes and forms… an “x” on your calendar, a homemade sheet of paper, a tally on your crisp, Benjamin Moore White Dove walls (we kid!). Track your progress and you will stay motivated to continue a given habit.
Daily Routines - checklist

5. Be consistent.

For your daily routines to reap their ever-abundant rewards, they’ve gotta be done regularly. It’s better to do a quarter mile walk everyday for a year than to do a five-mile walk only once a year.

Keeping the promises you make to yourself will instill the trust in yourself that you can accomplish bigger goals in the future. And just imagine how much your life will change after a year of implementing small goals everyday.

However, here’s your daily reminder that you are human.  You won’t be perfect…but if you skip a step of your routine (or the whole dang production) one day, make sure to get back on track the next.
Daily Routines - Start Making Changes

More Resources

For more on this topic, listen to our latest podcast episode: Setting Sustainable (and Fun!) Routines on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

By Jess Lohr

Jess is a Cambridge-based, Syracuse-born twenty-something who loves coffee, dogs and stalking Zillow for her future home. Her favorite ways to kill time include strolling through Boston’s cobblestone streets, socializing over a glass of wine, and reading finance books (if only 22-year-old Jess were like this).

She has spent the past 4+ years working in Consumer Insights, and when she’s not working on her 9-5, you can find her pursuing her most recent side hustle as a dog sitter. Jess is co-founder of Adultescence, a podcast and lifestyle website with the mission of helping post-grads navigate adulthood.

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