The air of September mornings has a cool, wake-up bite to it. Each year, it reminds me to get down to business and engage in the start of a new school year. As our kids fall into their new routines, we adapt to their schedules and establish routines of our own.
I will soon learn which days I drive my daughter to school. (Don’t tell her I secretly look forward to those mornings).
This is also another chance for all grownups – even those without kids in school – to re-evaluate, change or recharge our routines.
Routines can be great. In general, they can make our lives more efficient or at the very least, they save us the trouble of reflecting and making deliberate decisions on how we live each day.
We don’t have to plan a new route to school or work each day. We don’t have to discuss who is shopping, cooking or cleaning up. We don’t have to decide when we should go to bed and at what time we should set our alarms every single night.
Routines save us time and mental energy. That’s why we like them and easily fall into them.
Routines really are great when they’re working for you and those around you.
If you’re workouts at the gym keep you fit and energize you for the day, that routine is working well. But if it makes you late for work or you miss out on precious family time, it’s not.
If your morning routine doesn’t allow time for a healthy breakfast or makes you feel rushed and habitually late for work, consider setting the alarm – and going to bed – earlier.
If watching late night TV, surfing the net and Facebooking are keeping you up past your proper bedtime, consider limiting your own screen time (just as we now recommend parents do with their kids).
When our kids – with their packed schedules and increased need for sleep – are time-challenged, we sit down with them and look at the details of each day. What are they doing with their time? Have we allotted sufficient time for the essentials, including healthy meals and snacks, appropriate rest breaks, a good night’s sleep and study? Have we committed appropriate time for social life, family time, exercise, creative and other enjoyable activities?
As time-challenged grownups, we should do the same. What in our daily and weekly routines do we need more of? What do we need less of? What do we need to eliminate all together?
Is there one thing that you are not doing now that you should or really want to? How will you fit that into your week? What will you need to cut out?
Sometimes, there is not enough time in each day to do all the things we should and want to do. We have to choose what we will do now.
Just as our kids have classes in a variety of subjects, you and I have to attend to a large number of important subjects in our lives, including your family, work, personal health and money. But like disorganized students, we can spend too much time on one subject and neglect the rest. But for grownups, this can lead to a crisis instead of a final for which we can cram.
So each September, I reflect upon my daily and weekly routines. How have I been attending to all the important areas of my life? How can I do better? In real life, the learning never stops.