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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  1. Megan says

    I printed my daily checklist and put it in a frame. It hangs by the kitchen and I use a dry erase marker to check things off through the day. I also try to do that with my weekly cleaning list. I’m not good at vacuuming every Monday, laundry Tuesday’s, that kind of thing. So I made a list and as log ad everything gets done throughout the week it’s good for me! But if it’s not out in the open where I see it all the time, I wont do it.

  2. says

    Love #1. I’ve been using it on the time I get up in the morning; hopefully working up to getting up in time to do my Bible Study and work out before Andrew gets up for school! I started at getting up at 6 AM, now I’m shooting for 5:30 AM! Baby steps. I’ve tried to “overhaul” before and I get burned out in just a weekend!
    Hope you are feeling better.

  3. says

    I always make checklists!!! Sometimes I even add something I already did just so I can cross it off and get a little boost of energy to get the rest done :) Thanks for the other tips!!!

  4. says

    I put my checklists in sleeve protectors. They are inexpensive and you can use a dry erase maker or a sharpie to check off your list.

    To “erase” the sharpie – just use a cottonball or tissue with nail polish remover.


  5. AC says

    You are so right about slowly adding new things to the routine. We’ve had a daily routine that has worked well for us but I’ve found it’s best to not add more than one thing at a time. Give that awhile to “stick” and then add something else if needed/desired.

    This is so true of habits in general.

  6. says

    Thanks for the app suggestion, I am always looking for ways to maximize the ways I use my i-touch. I downloaded a similar free version called errands for now to see if I like using a electronic to do list over my normal old fashioned clip board with a pen attached. I love routines, they really help me stay on track on my more scatter brained days.

    • says

      I use a free app on my iPod touch called Cozi. There is a calendar, shopping list, to-do list, and journal (which I have never used). You can add each member to your cozi account and they can enter their own appointments on the calendar. Every family member is color coded. For a free app, I’m pretty happy with it.