Establishing routines can be difficult – just when you think you’re settled on a schedule, life throws unexpected challenges! To optimize productivity, I start by considering how I want to spend my time in spans of years, quarters, months, weeks – and then I work my way down to the daily routines. By doing so, I align my time with priorities at that particular point in my life.
Currently, my goal is to work as efficiently as possible so I can spend more time with my children. In the hope of helping others set up a routine that sparks joy, here are five tips that keep me productive while balancing work and family.
Start Your Morning With Good Energy
I usually wake up around 6am with my daughters. When I get up, I open all the windows to let fresh air in and then burn incense. I strive to keep my home comfortable and filled with clear energy throughout the day, so starting my morning with these rituals keeps me on track.
Next, I say a prayer of thanksgiving for my family and team members’ health, and I renew my resolve to do as much as I can that day.
I always get dressed, even if I am working from home. Getting into work clothes sets me up to be productive. Wear something that makes you feel good and confident.
“I strive to keep my home comfortable and filled with clear energy the entire day.”
Make a Daily To-Do List
Once I’m at my desk, I write out my tasks for the day. Everything is included on this list, from folding the laundry to answering emails. When I’m done with a task, I put a checkmark beside it. Seeing the checkmarks at the end of the day offers a sense of accomplishment.
Coordinate With Your Partner
Sharing and discussing to-do lists is a productive habit for partners. When we got married, my husband and I wrote out every household chore in a shared spreadsheet. When I finished a task, I would put a check next to it – and when my husband noticed it, he would send a simple thank you note (and vice versa). This process helped us realize the number of tasks necessary to live comfortably together, and what kinds of tasks are best suited for each person. My husband loves to cook, and I like to clean and tidy. Most things fell into place naturally. Figuring this out before having children was so helpful! We don’t share a spreadsheet for household chores anymore now that we have established a rhythm, but we continue to share our work schedules with each other.
Clear Your Mind
When I need to sort through my thoughts, I take a blank sheet of paper and write down everything on my mind. I identify any tangled feelings, reasons for worry or anxiety, and clarify which issues I can and cannot control.
For example, I used to get slightly upset when my children woke up later during work hours, but now I understand this is out of my hands. Recognizing that something is out of my control helps me calm down.
When I am burnt out and need to unwind, I forget everything and wipe the floor. Keeping my hands busy helps my mind find stillness.
“Keeping my hands busy helps my mind find stillness.”
Create a Nighttime Routine
My nighttime routine is focused on spending quality time with my children. After wrapping up my work around 6pm, I eat dinner at home with my family or sometimes invite friends over. Before putting my children to bed, I read them a book.
Once the children are asleep, I change the water in the flower vases and put things in the house back in their places. Because every item already has a designated home, I can usually complete this task within 10 minutes. As I put my things back into their places, I thank them for their hard work that day.
Finally, before going to bed, I diffuse oils to ease my body into sleep – lavender or Japanese wood are my favorites.
Prioritizing what sparks joy is at the heart of all the tips I shared above. Keeping this philosophy at the center of everything I do helps me focus on what I value. If you are struggling to figure out what sparks joy for you, my first piece of advice is to tidy your home! Once you are done tidying up, you will find it easier to keep your home – and mental space – clear and focused. By being surrounded only by the things that spark joy, your life naturally begins to achieve clarity.