Here’s a peek at my day, hourly planner style, and what I like to do when!
Routine & Things
I recently listened to an episode of The Purpose Show in which the host was interviewing Ashley Brown, author of the site Routine & Things. Allie and Ashley discussed their evening routines and gave tips for finding self care after a hectic day.
I LOVE talking about routines, habits, and daily life (why I starting writing about daily life almost 14 years ago!). The interview got my gears turning about my own routines and what I like to do when, by the hour.
I am incredibly grateful to be able to have flexibility in my day. While we all have different demands each week, I find reading about others’ routines not only gives me tips for my own but also challenges the habits I’ve adopted over time.
This article claims that “routines create high achievers” and I continue to tweak mine to maximize efficiency and minimize procrastination and feelings of stress.
Here’s an hour-by-hour peek into how I structure my day!
Hourly Planner aka My Daily Routine aka Day in the Life
6 – 7 AM: Quiet Morning Time + Power Hour
I HAVE to have some quiet time before my kids wake up. I’m one of those “wake up slowly” types and my children are high energy. (Thomas, on the other hand, literally JUMPS out of bed every morning!)
I’ve written before about getting up in the 5:00 hour to have some peaceful, kid-free time to start my day. My alarm is set for 5:30 during busier seasons or weeks when my kids will be home all day. Recently I’ve been waking up closer to 6 without an alarm.
At the minimum I need 20 minutes, but I prefer a full hour in bed until my feet hit the floor.
My laptop sleeps on my night stand
I know this is probably a controversial morning habit, but I like to jump into computer work first thing. I am not one of those gals who meditates for an hour before looking at a screen.
First thing in the morning I wake up well energized, and my brain is ready to roll! In contrast, in the evenings I am slow to move and think, so habits like reading, stretching, or unwinding happen then.
Morning Power Planning
If you’ve read about my course, Digital Clutter, you’ll know that I talk a lot about the Power Hour. This is one hour a week (all at once or broken up) that you devote to adulting tasks like responding to personal emails, organizing weekly tasks, sorting and saving digital photos, and checking in with your budget transactions.
I like to do my Power Hour tasks as soon as I wake up! I check in with my planner for the day, organize my thoughts for the work day ahead, and get back to Inbox Zero.
If you want to learn more about digital organizing methods, you can hear me talk about them in this free workshop!
In addition to power hour tasks, I do some light work here – emails, writing Beautycounter order thank you notes, editing, writing my newsletter.
7 – 9 AM: Kids, Breakfast, School, Chores
Kid hour! My kids are usually up at 7! The typical flow happens here: get dressed, make breakfasts, pack lunches, fill water bottles, teeth brushed, shoes on, drive or walk to school.
I usually unload the dishwasher, which is “my chore,” during this time.
After dropping the kids off to school or camp, I come home and tidy up: remaining breakfast dishes, wipe counters, pick up any left-out toys. Maybe change over some laundry. Podcast is always on!
9 – 11 AM: Prime Work Hours
Rumor has it that many people do their best, most focused work in the morning hours. And that is definitely true for me.
I usually do a few smaller tasks first to get a clean slate and then my Most Important Task of the day. Most often this is writing a blog post start to finish (which includes photos, social media, SEO formatting, etc.), but sometimes I have other tasks related to Beautycounter or Digital Clutter or just back-end business stuff in general.
Occasionally I do my workout first and when I do that I always feel like I am lagging behind all day. I have found that starting with my biggest / hardest task is the snowball for the rest of the day.
The author of this article and I are very much of the same mindset:
I like to use my mornings for one primary thing: To crush my most valuable task(s) for that particular day. This task is the one that has the biggest potential upside if I complete it and the biggest potential downside if I don’t. Usually, this task is also the most challenging one, so I need my full mental resources available to do it of the highest possible quality. Furthermore, because it’s the most challenging task, it’s also the most likely task to procrastinate on.
11 – 12 PM: Workout + Shower
My favorite time to exercise is right before lunch. A lot of times I want to wrap up my work before I workout (so I have that accomplished feeling!), and I push my workout back to 11:30 or even 12. That makes for a hungry session!
12-12:30 Lunch + Learn
Most often on my lunch break I am doing some kind of listening – to a course I’m taking or an educational podcast. I turn it on while I prep, eat, and clean up. Sometimes I have lunch with Thomas and we talk instead!
12:30 – 12:45 Dinner Prep with Blue Apron (#sponsored)
This is also my best chance for dinner prep! While the cutting board is out, doing some of the vegetable chopping, sauce making, or grain cooking gives me a HUGE head start when dinner time rolls around. Blue Apron recipe cards make this so easy. I can easily know what the first few prep steps are. While the chopping part is sometimes a little time consuming, making a sauce or throwing rice in the rice cooker is super fast!
I have been tempted to make the WHOLE dinner at times. But as I have thought more about efficiency, I think it makes the most sense to cook right before we eat so we don’t have to use more glass storage containers, and dirty more dishes reheating it. So I try to stick to “cutting board prep” only here rather than pre-cooking anything.
Sign up for Blue Apron here to get up to 16 free meals across your first four boxes…. that’s about $120 free – give it a try!
1 – 2:30 PM: Back To Work
My personality type doesn’t like to start something and not finish it, so I try to save smaller tasks for the afternoon so I know I can finish them before it’s time to pick up the kids. But sometimes all I have is another big task and tell myself to just get started and I’ll have a head start for it being the Most Important Task for tomorrow.
2:30 – 5 PM: Kid Play Time
I leave to pick up the boys at 2:30 (depending on whether they are in camp or the school year.) Sometimes this is a longer carpool if Mazen is doing his camp that is way out in the countryside. After pickup, we have a snack and play, play, play all afternoon – at the pool, outside in the yard, to the library, at the park, in the playroom.
5 – 6:30 PM: Cook, Eat, Clean Up Dinner
I usually start dinner at 5pm, and we eat between 5:45 and 6:15, depending. Sometimes Birch gets an earlier dinner if we have a longer-to-cook grown-up dinner. Sometimes Mazen gets a Kid Dinner too (he loves those nights). But the goal is always to sit down together.
Again, we have loved Blue Apron because of the way the recipes are planned and written. Thomas and I can divide and tackle quickly (I always give him the “pat chicken dry and salt and pepper both sides” task 😆 ) OR one of us stays out longer with the kids while the other gets some lovely solo cooking time!
Also as previously mentioned in other Blue Apron posts I’ve written, we have been doing a “cook once, eat twice” cadence this year that means that every other night we don’t have to cook or clean!!!!!! Those nights are always the most relaxing. On a leftovers night the boys might get more of a kid dinner.
6:30 – 8 PM: Kid Bedtime Routine
Thomas and I usually each take one of two tasks: dinner clean up or Birch bath. (Mazen usually takes a shower on his own). We swap who does what a lot of the time. I can’t decide which is more “fun” – clean up or bath! Ha. Of course we do the dinner dishes, but wipe all the counters, run the dishwasher, and vacuum most days.
Birch is in bed by 7:30 most nights and Mazen is closer to 8/8:30. We have a usual bedtime routine of bath, teeth, stories, rock, crib. And shower, teeth, chats, tuck in for Mazen.
8-9:30 PM: Grown Up Relax Time
In my early morning post I wrote the following:
“If we think of our days in chunks of time, the evening chunk is kind of a wash. I’m usually pretty tired after the kids are in bed, and I rarely work during those hours. Therefore, those hours are better spent sleeping, and an early bedtime makes sense. Sleep when you’re tired. In contrast, I wake up focused and energized and if I shift my sleep back and wake up early, those early hours of the day are way more productive than if I were sleeping.”
AKA my evenings are all about relaxing and getting to bed early. When the kids are asleep, I’m pretty zonked out! If we’re watching a show, we might watch an episode of that before heading upstairs (if there is time).
My favorite way to unwind is to read. It’s the most meditative way to turn off my brain, any time of day (or night if I find myself having insomnia!) When I’m reading fiction, I literally can’t think about other things.
9:30 PM: Lights Out!
Or rather, lights out first while I read my kindle until it falls on my face