How to Develop a Routine That Works–And Stick With It! (Part 4)

So, if you did your homework yesterday, you now have a written routine created for your family. Way to go!

A Routine Only Works if You Follow It

Just having a routine written down on paper is not enough. You actually have to stick with it!

Now, like I said yesterday, you don’t have to follow your routine perfectly for it to make a big impact. But you do need to use it as a guideline on a daily basis. Even just following 75-80% of it almost every day can mean a world of difference in your home and life.

Here are four suggestions to help you stick with your routine:

1. Add One New Thing Every 3 Weeks

If the concept of a routine is completely new for you, don’t try to overhaul your life all at once. Slow and steady changes in the right direction will result in much more lasting and long term changes. As I’ve often said, moving in the right direction–even at a microscopic rate–is still moving forward.

I recommend adding one new habit every three weeks. Start with a morning routine and stick with that for three weeks. Then add in an evening routine and stick with it for three weeks. Finally, add in an afternoon routine and stick with that for another three weeks.

Once you’ve got your routines down, try filling it in by following your entire written routine. If that’s too much to add all at once, go back to just adding in one or two new things to your routine every three weeks.

2. Create a Checklist

I’ve found it really helpful to print a new routine for each day of the week to follow and check off as I complete each task. This might just be the Type A in me, but there’s something about checking off things from a list that helps to keep me on track.

If you don’t want to mess with having a new page for each day, you could print and laminate your routine and use a dry erase marker to check it off. And then just wipe it clean at the end of the day.

Or, if you’re more of a techy person, you could use some type of online program on your computer or smartphone. I use the To Do App for my daily to-do list (this is separate from my standard routine) and think it could easily be set up to have a standard routine to check off each day if something a bit more high-tech appeals to you.

However, don’t try to make it more complicated than it needs to be. A simple list printed on scrap paper with a pen to check it off can work just fine. What matters most is not how high-tech or elaborate your system is, but that it inspires you to follow through with your routine!

3. Get An Accountability Partner

If you feel like you’re not disciplined enough to stick with a routine on your own, find an accountability partner to help keep you on track. Maybe it’s a friend who checks in with you via email every afternoon. Or a neighbor who pops by every afternoon. Or your spouse who checks in with how your day went at dinner. Maybe you form a group of online friends on Facebook to keep each other accountable. Or perhaps you do something entirely different.

Think about what would most motivate you to stay accountable and then get that accountability system in place. No excuses; just do it!

4. Reward Yourself For Sticking With It

Create milestones to celebrate along the way. This inspires you to keep at it when you don’t feel like sticking with it. Plus, life is just a lot more enjoyable when you make time to celebrate your successes!

What ideas do you have for motivating yourself to stick with your routine?

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2012 Goals: February’s Update

In early January, I shared about my Goals for 2012 and promised an update at the end of each month. So here’s February’s update:

Personal
Read through the Bible in a year. {I’ve been keeping up with this faithfully}
Read through the 24 books on my 2012 booklist. {I’ve almost finished my February books plus read quite a few other books!}
Listen to 12 audiobooks. {Finished February’s audiobook.}
Run in at least one 5K race. {Almost finished with week 6 of the Couch to 5K program.}
Complete the Couch to 10K program.
Tackle 12 Do-It-Yourself Projects. {I’m making homemade Naan this week–hopefully!}
Focus on one habit per month. {I made early bedtimes a big priority in February and got so much more sleep this month. Still working on consistently getting up at the same time each day.}
Learn to use my new DSLR camera (huge surprise Christmas present from Jesse!!) & improve my photography skills.
Take at least one photo a day and put together a page every week for my Project Life album. {I almost have all of February done.}
Memorize Colossians using the plan and free download here. {I’m almost caught up with this.}

Marriage
Go on the Love Like You Mean It Cruise. {Done–read my recap here.}
Go on two Marriage Retreats (overnight trips sans children for planning, talking, goal accountability).
Have monthly date nights. {We had one date in February plus the cruise.}
Read four books together. {We’ve read a few more pages of one book together so I guess that counts for something!}
Read at least 3 books on marriage. {Almost finished with Rekindling the Romance–loving it!}

Children/Homeschooling
Continue regular dates/outings with each of the children individually. {I didn’t do so great at this with the cruise and us being sick this month. I’ll try again in March!}
Continue Grace and Truth memory book. {The children memorized four more verses plus two verses to a hymn this month.}
Ice-skating lessons for all three children. {The children just finished their first round of classes and we decided to go on to the next round because they all enjoyed them so much!}
Swimming lessons for all three children.
Finish second grade, begin third grade with Kathrynne. {Plugging away at this!}
Finish kindergarten, begin first grade with Kaitlynn. {Plugging away at this}
Start preschool with Silas.
Go on at least one field trip every month. {We didn’t get to go on a field trip because of the cruise and sickness.}
Go on at least one family vacation.
Finish at least 15 read-aloud books. {We’ve almost finished five read-alouds so far this year.}

Ministry/Friendships/Extended Family
Write at least two handwritten notes every month to encourage someone. {I wrote & mailed three handwritten notes this month.}
Continue being involved in our local church, homeschool group, young couple’s group, and blogging accountability group. {Ongoing}
Continue with weekly get-togethers with both sides of our extended family. {Ongoing}

Business/Blogging
Continue to take Sundays off from blogging/business work. {Ongoing}
Continue keeping strict Office Hours for the business/blogging time each day. {Working on this–making a tiny bit of progress!}
Switch to a paperless planning system. {This is going well for me, though I’ve decided I’m probably never going to be 100% paperless for all things.}
Follow my weekly blogging plan. {I didn’t do this perfectly in February, but I adhered to it somewhat.}
Plan blog posts out at least a month in advance. {Not quite there, but I’m at least being much more intentional with my blogging this year than I’ve ever been before!}
Write and schedule blog posts at least a week in advance. {Making some headway with this, though I’m far from where I want to be!}

Financial
Continue to tithe 10% of our income. {Ongoing}
Give generously to needs in our community and around the world, as God prompts us. {Ongoing}
Pay cash for a new-to-us vehicle to replace our family’s van. {We were able to finish funding our vehicle fund this month. Now we’re starting to look at vehicles and hoping to find something in the next few months. We’ll see!}
Finish saving for and purchase a rental property with cash. {We were able to set aside some for this in February.}

How Are You Doing on Your Goals for 2012?

If you’ve posted goals for 2012, I’d love for you to post an update on how things are going and share your link in the comments. If you don’t have a blog, feel free to just leave your update as a comment. Let’s encourage one another to live lives of intention and purpose!

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Are $100,000+ income families more likely to coupon than those with less than $35,000 incomes?

CNBC posted an article yesterday with interesting statistics on couponers:

Constance Atkinson, a 20-year veteran of couponing, estimates that she saves more than $1,000 per year by scouring the newspaper for deals.

Atkinson, a Brooklyn resident, and other bargain-seeking consumers fueled a 63-percent surge in coupon redemption last year, according to new data from Coupons.org.

But the changing face of the coupon user may surprise you.

Households with incomes of $100,000 or more are twice as likely to coupon as those who earn less than $35,000. College-degree holders are also twice as likely to use coupons as those who did not graduate from high school.

Read the full article here.

Do you think these statistics are accurate? I find them fascinating–mostly because I know there are many readers here who make less than $35,000 who are avid couponers!

FOR MORE COUPONS, search our comprehensive Coupon Database for manufacturer coupons, printable coupons, eCoupons, and more!

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Donate Plasma and Earn Money While Saving Lives

Guest post by Mary

One easy way to earn an income is donating plasma. Now, before you all say “EWW!” and stop reading, hear me out…

Yes, I realize that plasma collection centers don’t always have the best reputations. And, for some of them, this reputation is rightfully earned. However, most of them (like the one I work at, for example) certainly do not fall in to this category.

Our donor population, for example, is made up of mostly college students, soldiers, and locals who are simply looking for a way to put extra cash in their pocket while doing something that helps people.

Here are a few things you should know if you are interested in earning a little more money in this way.

It is a perfectly safe process.

Plasma donation is highly regulated by the FDA, as well as several other agencies. (Many of our medical staff employees have told us that we have more regulations than hospitals they have worked at).

When you donate, you only come in contact with sterile supplies. All lancets, sample collecting tools, and supplies for our machines are brand new and thrown away after each use, eliminating any possibility of transmission of a disease.

Now, that being said, there are some people who aren’t not suitable for donating due to health reasons. This is why every donor goes through a screening and physical process consisting of medical history, examination, and testing of a sample of blood.

And, for this reason, it is crucial that you are fully honest with the employees so they can be sure you are a suitable candidate. Also, each center is overseen by a licensed physician and there is always a nurse on site.

You are saving lives.

I mean this quite literally. Plasma is filled with proteins and clotting factors. These can be used to help people with primary immune deficiencies, certain protein deficiencies, clotting disorders, burn victims, babies born with hemolytic disease of the newborn, shock victims, and the list goes on and on.

For most of these conditions, there is absolutely no synthetic substitute for plasma, which is why it is in such demand — these people would either die or have a significantly reduced quality of life without these donations.

The money you earn is worth it.

You go through a screening process and then sit in a bed while you read, watch a movie, or surf the Internet for about an hour and get paid for it. The amount you earn per donation varies by location, company, and the weight of the donor, but our center pays anywhere from $20-$50 per donation, and you can do this twice a week! That is quite a chunk of change in your pocket!

Yes, I know this incoming earning ideas isn’t for everyone; but I really encourage you think beyond rumors you have heard about the process and check it out for yourself, for your own good and for the sake of the people you could be helping.

If you are interested, find a plasma center in your area and check it out.

Because plasma centers are run by separate companies, there is no one good way to find a center in your area. But, if you just run a google search “plasma center in (your town)” you should be able to find one easily if there is one around you.

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