When I received my letterpress goal tracker from Elise in December, I had a few habits in mind that I wanted to use it for in 2015. I printed a couple copies of the digital version (still available here) and decided to test them out before mucking up the pretty letterpress one. The habit I've been working on the most consistently this year is completing an evening routine.
My evening routine has changed a dozen times over the last several years, but one thing that has stayed the same is that the more I do to get myself and my family ready for the next day, the happier and calmer I am in the morning. I clipped a short list of items I would like to complete each night (specifically weeknights) to the side of the goal tracker as a reminder of what needs to get done. Here is a look at what I thought my ideal evening routine would be back at the beginning of the year :
I consider my routine to begin after we clean up the kitchen from dinner. Some nights while Mark gives the kids a bath, I'll start packing some of their lunch and snacks and filling all of our water bottles for the next day. Some nights its just me with the kids and I have to wait until they are in bed to get started. Some nights are harder than others because I just want to sit down and do nothing once 8:30 rolls around. In hindsight, that list I wrote in January is probably too long. I hardly ever do everything, and if I do, I likely don't have time to do anything enjoyable, like read or watch a show with Mark, before it's time to go to bed. I've adjusted my expectations since then, and after reading Zen Habits* last month, I came away with a ton of advice for sticking with my habit. These were two of my favorite tips :
1. Have a smaller version of the habit. A Minimum Viable Habit that you can do even when you don't feel like doing the habit. There have been countless times in the past that I'd stay up (too) late and collapse in bed without washing my face or brushing my teeth - for no good reason. Gasp. I know. So, those couple of self care items have become a priority on my list and my Minimum Viable Habit is to just go in the bathroom. Even though it only takes 5 minutes (if that), I needed to get in a better habit of taking care of myself before I got too tired. Those two items on my list are non-negotiables, or must-do's every night. If those don't get done, I can't highlight that circle on my #make29 tracker.
2. Don't miss two days in a row. Everyone is going to miss a day here and there, often for good reason, but missing that second day (or more) leads to a downward spiral and then you feel like you have to start all over again. Leo mentions, when you miss one day, do what you can to figure out why you missed it so you can learn from your mistakes and keep from missing again. That has really helped me push through some rough parts of February when I was just plain sick and/or tired.
These days, I hardly ever complete every item on that original list, and that's okay. It's my habit and I'm adjusting as needed. Time permitting, I know the more I do in the kitchen each night, the smoother the following morning is going to be. I've been keeping the tracker on my nightstand, along with a small highlighter, so I can quickly color in the circle before bed. Here's what it looks like as of this morning :
Perfect - no. Progress - definitely.
*Note : The Zen Habits book by Leo Babauta was a Kickstarter project and the book was only offered through that site to the backers who pledged to the project. As far as I know, this limited edition book will not be available through bookstores or Amazon.