Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

How to Develop a Routine That Works–and Stick With It! (Part 1)

Do your days feel chaotic and disorganized? Do you feel like you’re always behind and always running around in circles?

You need a routine. It will calm your chaos and bring rhythm, order, and peace to your days.

What is a Routine?

A routine is a plan for the flow of your day. It can be very basic and bare bones or it can be more specific. However, it is not a regimented schedule with detailed time blocks for how you’re supposed to spend every minute of every day.

While a rigid schedule works well for some, we’ve found that a routine is much more doable for our family–especially since our children are younger and my husband and I both have our own businesses. No day is exactly the same, so the flexibility a routine provides is perfectly suited to allow for the interruptions that inevitably arise.

{In the middle of writing that last sentence, Kathrynne came running upstairs from the basement to let me know that Silas had just thrown up all over the couch. So I spent 20 minutes bathing him, cleaning up the couch, and taking care of the soiled clothes. Yep, this is a classic example of why a flexible routine works better for us than a rigid schedule!}

How To Set Up a Workable Routine

1. Start With the “Big Rocks”

You’ve probably seen or heard the illustration about putting the big rocks in first:

A popular story describes a time-management professor who demonstrates the importance of prioritizing by filling a five-gallon mason jar with fist-size rocks and asking the class if the jar is full. Since another big rock wouldn’t fit, the class answers, “yes.” However, the professor proceeds to pour a pitcher of gravel, then sand, and finally water into the jar before it is finally full.

The point of the story is not that you can cram much more than you ever dreamed into any given day. The point is this: “If you don’t put your big rocks in first, the fillers of life will take up your day and you won’t fit your big rocks in at all.” 

If you want to get things done that truly matter, you must focus on the big rocks. Ask yourself: What are the most important things I want to be prioritizing in my life right now?”

If you feel like you still don’t have clarity, consider what will matter to you in 25 years from now. This helps you strip away the non-essentials and focus on what you really want to be devoting the bulk of your time to.

Develop your daily routine with the big rocks in mind. You’ll likely be able to find time for some pebbles and sand, too, but begin with what matters most.

Practical Application

Take 10 minutes to consider what your “big rocks” are (ask your spouse for input, if you’re married). Write them down on a piece of paper. If you’re willing to, I’d love to have you share them in the comments section on this post.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about using these big rocks to help craft a framework for your daily routine.

photo credit


Want some practical help with setting up your day for success? It all starts the night before! Be sure to grab a copy of my brand-new online course, Make Over Your Evenings.

This 14-day online course includes videos, a workbook, and step-by-step projects and is designed to help you maximize your evenings in order to experience more success in your life, more order in your home, and more joy in your soul.

It’s time to stop sleep-walking through life and wake up to the amazing excitement and fulfillment that comes when you follow my simple plan to Make Over Your Evenings.

Find out more about it here.

Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!


  • Nanny says:

    I’m helping a mum with a 23 month old and newborn triplets develop a workable routine. For her the rocks are mostly feeds, naps and laundry but having those at set times allows guaranteed calm moments for the rock a lot of people miss out on – reading a story with the toddler or snuggling with one of the babies. The routine doesn’t take away from the fun – having a plan for the “boring bits” is what makes the fun possible.

  • Big Rocks
    1) Reading my Bible/Praying
    2) Homeschooling my daughter (this event is taking up my whole jar right now)
    3) Playing/Crafting with my kiddos
    4) Making my house a home
    5) Time with my man

    • Emily T says:

      What a great list 🙂 I have started homeschooling as well… I think a key to it not taking up your whole jar is to break it down. Have her sort laundry with you (math/colors). Teach her to follow a recipe. And make ANY craft a learning experience. Example: Google “Zebra Mask” print it off and have her color while you talk about 3 basic zebra facts: 1. They live in Africa 2. They eat grass. 3. They can run 40mph.
      Or have her decorate a princess crown and only let her use blue, green, and red for jewels- then talk about sapphires, emerald, and rubys.

      -Good luck.. I know its tough, but will be TOTALLY worth it!

  • Leah says:

    this is probably the single most helpful series you’ve done (in my opinion!) ..i can’t wait for part 3. here are my ‘big rocks’:
    Homeschooling my daughter
    Making my home a sanctuary (which means keeping it clean and cooking good meals for my family)
    Spending quality time with my husband and child(ren)
    Self-sufficiency (trying to be a good steward of what God has given us and trying to lessen our reliance on others)
    Spending time with God for me-ie, my prayer time, my Bible reading
    Serving God’s people

  • Abby says:

    My big rocks are: finishing school (my last semester of college), keeping my relationship with my boyfriend happy and healthy, managing my anxiety issues, personal health/weight loss, my dog’s health (undergoing “slow kill” heart worm treatment) and his little doggy happiness (I’m worried about his quality of life with me being gone all day at school and no one paying attention to him), practicing SAFE DRIVING (if my ADHD gets me in one more accident, I might never be able to afford insurance again), and monetary responsibility.

  • Deanna says:

    1. Spending quality time with my husband and son.
    2. Preparing healthy meals for us.
    3. Working on my physical fitness.
    4. Working on my creativity.

    It seems like if I put my emphasis on these things now, our future as a family well be tremendously better for it.

    Thank you for posting this series! I’m excited to read the rest!

  • Kelley says:

    Thank you so much for posting this series! You couldn’t possibly know how it came at the PERFECT time in my life. I created a rigid, minute-by-minute schedule on New Year’s Day, and it was so overwhelming to look at that I never once implemented it! I have since caught the blogging bug, and am going to hold myself accountable for creating and adhering to a new routine by posting my own time management mini-series. (Basically a progress report of my successes and failures of following your suggestions for routines.)

    Please know that you are my personal hero. I have derived many of my goals from yours because you are such an inspiration. In my almost-20 posts, I’ve probably referred to you 50 times. My five readers must be convinced by now that they should stop reading my blog, and just read yours instead! 🙂

    Thank you for all that you do in the way of helping to motivate people like me to become better home economists, mothers, wives, and Christians.

  • Kathy says:

    My big rocks:
    Keeping my health stable
    Keeping a rock solid home – a sanctuary/oasis for my family
    Strengthen marriage every day
    Keeping finances straight
    Building a blog to help others

Money Saving Mom® Comment Policy

We love comments from readers, so chime in with your thoughts below! We do our best to keep this blog upbeat and encouraging, so please keep your comments cordial and kind. Read more information on our comment policy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *