Routines for Unpredictable Schedules
Maybe your routines are a little bit unpredictable lately, or maybe it’s this week or month.
Or maybe, like me, it’s been an unpredictable year and you’re just waiting for things to settle down again so you can find a routine, maybe that’s your wellness routine or just a daily life routine.
But because of the unpredictability, it’s just not happening.
Well, I’m going to tell you what to do, but it’s probably not what you think.
Trust me. It will work so much better.
In this episode of The Feel Good Effect podcast, I’m giving you the step-by-step for creating a routine even when you have an unpredictable schedule.
Here’s a glance at this episode
- [05:05] Learn an alternative to relying on a rigid routine during an unpredictable time, and instead discover how to focus on small micro habits that can occur throughout the day
- [08:45] Action step: Get the Simplified Wellness Routines Guide to identify and implement your personalized micro habits
- [09:40] Use these categories for your simplified wellness routines: feel, focus, fit.
- [18:41] Don’t worry if you miss a day. Apply the 2 out of 3 framework rather than falling off of the wagon.
Links Mentioned in this Episode
If you want more episodes on routines, you’ll love these 3
- How to Radically Simplify Your Morning Routine
- The 3 Habits You Need to Create a Simple Capsule Wardrobe
- Create Sustainable Daily Mini Wellness Routines
Read the Transcript
You’re listening to the feel-good effect. Maybe your routines a little bit unpredictable lately and predictable day, or maybe it’s the week or the month, or maybe like me, it’s been an unpredictable year and you’re just waiting for things to settle down again. So you can find a routine, maybe that’s your wellness routine or just a daily life routine, but because of the predictability, it’s just not happening. Well, I’m going to tell you what to do, but it’s probably not what you think. Address me. It will work so much better. Let’s make it happen. Well, Hey, feel good, fam. I am so glad you’re here for this conversation on creating routines in an unpredictable schedule. It’s like I said, maybe for you, it’s just, you’re in kind of a busy week or a month. This whole last year has been like the most unpredictable. I know my living memory and I don’t think it’s changing any time soon.
So depending on where you live in the country or in the world, yes. Your experience with the next year, it will be different. But I think one thing is for sure there will be changes last minute, changes that we’re not expecting that throw our daily routines up in the air. And I think this idea that we just need to wait until things settle down is one of the places we are going so wrong, because if you’re waiting for perfection, when it comes to your schedule, when you’re waiting for it to be predictable again, I think what’s happening is we’re putting off the things that really matter. We’re putting off those simple habits that can help you feel good every day, regardless of what’s going on in your life or in the world. And especially what we’ve seen, I think in the last year is if you say, well, I’m just going to wait until things settle down.
You could be waiting for years and I don’t want you to wait for years. I don’t want you to wait for perfect. I want you to feel good in the life that you have right now. And so if you have an unpredictable schedule, I’m going to say something, but it’s probably different than what a lot of people are teaching right now, which is, I don’t think you need a routine if you have an unpredictable schedule. And I think in fact, the behavioral science shows and the research on habits shows that if you have an unpredictable schedule, if you don’t have consistency in your behavior and your environment, it’s really, really hard to create a routine. So you’re spending energy and effort on something that’s going to be really, really difficult to do, rather than focusing your energy and effort on something that will work, watch better.
And really, I think routines become like co-opted by the productivity space and turned into this, another idea of lifestyle perfection, and another way we’re measuring, measuring up. And I hear from so many people who I coach or just work with, um, through the website and through the podcast that they have this idea of like the perfect routine and that when their life is completely settled down and they know exactly what’s going to happen next, then they’ll be able to put this thing in place. And most of them never get there because life isn’t like that. And instead they could be putting their focus into the daily habits, the daily actions that really really moved the needle, regardless of what’s going on around them. So I think one thing to do right off the bat, before I tell you the some tactical strategic things is just let go of the idea that there’s a perfect time and a perfect routine.
And if that’s the way you’ve been thinking about it, you can just really set at least for me in my own life. And pretty much everyone. I know there is no version of that perfect routine. And I think that people that are teaching it are people that are very, very insulated from the real world. So they might be an author or a speaker who has no childcare responsibilities who can go in their office and close the door and do their morning routine and do their writing routine come out of the office. And someone else has taken care of the kids and taking care of dinner, um, taking care of all the little life details that need to happen. Cared for aging. Parents cared for the pets and they’re free to have this routine that sort of separate from real life. But then, then those of us who live in the real world don’t have that luxury and are always trying to get to this version that so few people have access to. So I would say just lack of the idea that there is such thing as a perfect routine, and also let go, the idea that you need to wait until your life is predictable. Again, to start taking care of yourself, to start the wellness habits, to start with prioritizing how you want to feel.
And so the alternative option is to really focus on the behavior, the action, the small micro habits that can occur throughout the day. So we can uncouple them from having to be in an exact routine and the exact order and an exact time of day, which there’s a time and place for that. But again, that is not my life right now. Maybe it’s yours, but, um, if it’s not yours, we can take these micro habits and we put them throughout the day and we can be a little more fluid with it, a little more flexible with it without having to go all or nothing. Right. Without having to say either I had this routine and I wake up at 5:00 AM and I do these 19 things and I get them done and I checked my boxes and I’m so good for the day. But then on the days that that doesn’t happen, it’s a nothing day.
None of those perfect 19 boxes get, or you have, you know, your meal planning routine that takes two hours, but then you don’t have time for that. So you do no meal planning. So this is the antidote to rigid routines that can only occur when things are predictable is to have these micro actions or behaviors that you do consistently daily, but they don’t have to happen all in order and all at the same time. And I want you to imagine, uh, that you’re rock climbing, whether you’ve ever rock climbed or not. I imagine you’ve probably seen some muddy rock climb on TV or even one of those rock climbing gyms. And when you’re, I’m not a expert rock climber, I’m sure someone will let me know that I’m getting this example slightly wrong. But for the purposes of this conversation, imagine that you’re at the bottom of a really, really steep climb, right?
Which is often our day or our week. And your first strategy is to try to find like the straight up perfect path. So you are going to go into this rock and place a peg or a hold in this rock in the same line with the same amount of distance in between. So you start hammering away at this rock. And you’re trying to put the holds in, in the exact straight line, in the exact same, or, um, you know, with one foot in between or the alternative is you could read the rock, find where the natural holds are and place them there. And those natural places are gonna be, um, they’re not going to be a straight line. They’re not necessarily going to be completely equally spaced, but because you’re following the rock and letting the rock kind of dictate where those are going to go, it’s going to be more fluid and there’s going to be a lot more ease and ease is what I want for you.
So I think you can think about these micro habits, these behaviors that you place through your day as those handholds that you would put in the rock, they’re kind of your lifeline. They’re going to allow you to climb up that rock, but you’re following the path of the rock rather than trying to jam them in a straight line in the exact equal order. And ultimately that’s going to get you to the same place, right? The top of the mountain, the top of the rock, but it’s going to be in a way that serves you better. Now, once you release the idea that you have to have a perfect routine, um, in an unpredictable schedule, I want you to follow this step-by-step and I do have a, um, PDF Download that goes with this episode that will really help you. I’m going to talk through part of it.
And then there’s a few tips in there that I’m not gonna be able to get to today. And that is our simplified wellness routines guide. You can get it. I want you to pause whatever, wherever you’re listening, unless you’re in a car, pause, go to realfoodwholelife.com/resources. And that is our wellness routines guide. You can download it. I’m going to talk through part of it. And then it will be very, very useful for you as you try to think through this over year, next weeks and months. So realfoodwholelife.com/resources. And that one is another one we’re going to be retiring and probably bringing into one of our, our paid programs. If you want to grab that for free, you might want to do that pretty soon. So there’s three steps when you’re going to be focusing on habit, micro habits, these little behaviors, these little actions, rather than big routines, there’s three steps.
So it’s going to be – feel, focus, fit, and we’re going to start with feel first. So this might take a few minutes. You might want to again, download that guide so you can kind of use it to take notes to really think through, but I want you to ask yourself when it comes to routines, whether it’s a morning routine or wellness routine or meal planning routine, why did you want to do it in the first place? Like, why is it so important that you have routine anyway? And if it’s because other people tell you, you should, or you think it’s, you know, something you’re supposed to do, then that’s probably not going to be compelling enough. Right. So when we think about doing these micro habits instead, why does it matter to add wellness habits or healthy habits into your day? How do those habits, or how do you expect those habits to make you feel, how are you, how are they connected to how you feel now and how you want to feel?
That’s always going to be where we start, because it really does make a difference in terms of selecting the right habits, but also selecting habits that are going to take you to where you want to go. So you could brainstorm a list of habits, um, or actions or behaviors based on how you feel now or how you want to feel. So that’s always where I say, start, we have some ideas in the guide. We have a place for notes in the guide. And then, like I said, some ideas and based on how you want to feel, you could say that you need some of those habits in your day because you want to feel calm, grounded, connected. Maybe you want to feel energized. Maybe you want to feel something opposite of those things. Um, but really getting clear on how you feel and how you want to feel.
It’s going to make this so much more impactful for you and help you choose kind of the right micro habits to focus on rather than one giant routine. So from those words, I would say, pick one to start and I’ll use an example. Uh, I just did this for myself this last week because our schedule is so ridiculously unpredictable right now. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s just between like different camps and then not knowing what’s going to happen with Al going back to school in the fall. Like, are they going to go back or they’re not going to go back. I think, I know, go back part time. Are they going to go back and get sent right back home? Are someone, you know, if she gets the sniffles, are we not going to be able to send her to school? Which I don’t think we would then what do I do every time?
I have a random sick kid at home and no childcare, like this is the situation, right? I think for many, many people in different versions of that. So I took some time to regroup and think about like, what are the behaviors, the micro habits that I want to use as my hand holds on the rock in the season. And I picked one word for me, it is connected. And for some people that we’re connected is like, um, a very social thing. A very community-based thing for me, connection right now is really with myself. I find that the more that we’re changing things up, the busier, we get, the more we’re running around and changing things up, the less connected I feel to myself and as someone who is an, uh, an introvert and a highly sensitive person that makes me feel so disconnected, that I start to kind of lose myself in my life.
And so my word is connected. That’s how I want to feel. And then that’s how, that’s where I’m starting from. When I pick the micro habits, I want to focus on. And in that free guide, there’s some place, there’s a place for some notes. So you can really kind of think about like, how do you want to feel? Why do you want to feel that way? Maybe you want to feel connected to others. Maybe you felt really socially isolated or disconnected from your community, from your faith. Um, maybe it’s rested. Maybe it’s energized. Maybe it’s activated. There’s no right word here. And it doesn’t have to be like a calming word. I just usually, uh, go there. So that’s what I usually need. It might not be what you need. So you have your word, how do you want to feel? And then you’re going to go and make a list of these micro habits.
So rather than coming up with a routine, you’re looking at sort of these micro behaviors or habits that are connected to how you want to feel. So maybe that’s reading, stretching, a breath, work, practice, writing, meditating, walking, running, listening to a podcast, calling a friend, going out and having a cup of tea. Like there is no right or wrong here, but what I want you to think about is are these habits, or micro-behaviors connected to how you want to feel. Um, another prompt I often give that I’ve seen like completely stolen and ripped off all of our pins. It’s that self care, this is a whole nother story. But, uh, I often say that self care is doing the things that make you feel more like yourself. So when you’re choosing these habits or actions or behaviors and why, and I think about do these connect with how I want to feel and do these make me feel more like myself.
That’s another mistake I see people make. So often when it comes to routines is doing things that they think they should or should not a good, because some influencer told them they read it in a book or they have this vision of that sweaty, like happy how their person happy healthy person does in the morning. Um, but maybe for you, journaling does not work. And it doesn’t make you feel more like yourself. It feels like a job or maybe for you. Um, breathwork is triggering. Yeah. You know, so there’s not like don’t try it, do get the perfect award for the perfect list. I think really be honest with yourself. What makes you feel more like yourself and how does that connect with how you want to feel? And then let’s get this list narrowed down to just a few, because we’re not trying to optimize your whole day for wellness and self care.
We’re trying to find a few moments so that you have like the, you get to the top of the rock, but you do it in a way that is with ease. So now we’ve done feel, and we’ve done focus. So you know how you want to feel what you’re going to focus on. The last part is fit. So I often talk about the four RS, which is fitting them into your morning or mid day, your after to afternoon and evening. And we do have that worksheet as part of free guide. So that works for some people to kind of just down like one or two actions or behaviors for the four parts of the day. You could also just have a list and see where organically they work. Like where are those natural handholds coming up in your day? I think if you go through your whole day and you never get any of them in it, that’s a good time to revisit the morning, midday mid-afternoon and evening, um, fit guide that we have the refresh revive reset and rest.
I would definitely revisit that. Grab the download. So you don’t have to have it exactly. Time-bound at 5:00 AM, but you know that by like lunch, if you haven’t gotten to any of the things that you might want to, um, make a little space for that. So by the end of the day, I want you to have created a little space for some of those things, whether it’s a walk and some breath work and some stretching, or whether it’s taking 10 minutes to make lunch for yourself and nourishing lunch and taking an afternoon break, rather than looking at social media, doing something a little more restorative and turning off the TV a little early, so you can read and bed. And I think that this really requires like two things. As I said, one, it’s releasing the idea of what a routine has to look like.
Cause some of you have told me, Hey, you know what, I’m doing those things. I just didn’t give myself credit for it. So you could already just acknowledge that you have a wellness routine and you have a daily routine. It just doesn’t look exactly like you thought it was supposed to, but also just allowing your life to help you realize like where those things can fit a little bit better if getting up early, isn’t going to work for you in this season. Or if having 16 steps in a row isn’t working for you. So I will wrap it up and review here at the end, but I wanted to share with you, like I said, I, my word right now is connected and then I’ll share, share. I think I’ve four or five micro habits that I’m focusing on getting in every day. And those are not all happening in the morning, but they are happening nearly every day.
And when I miss a day, I go for two out of three, which is something I teach in my book, the feel-good effect. So if I miss a day, then that’s not off the wagon just means looking at this list again for the next day and saying like, did I give myself too many things to do? Or what, or did I expect that they were going to get done in the morning? And my mornings just aren’t conducive to that? Like what happened and how can I readjust and make sure that I get to the things the next day. So my word is connect or connected. I would say, and my micro habits are walk by Pilates, like 10 minutes of Pilates water and making dinner. So when I can get those four things and I feel better, I feel more like myself. I feel more connected to myself and I have, you know, gotten the same routine done, but it didn’t happen all at one time.
So permission to let go of the idea that you need to do perfect routine at the perfect time of day with the perfect number of items. Um, and instead embrace in the busy seasons and the unpredictable seasons, a little more ease with identifying how you want to feel what you want to focus on and then how you’re going to fit that in your day. Again, you can grab the free guide while it’s still on the site. So, uh, kind of counting down the weeks while that’s still available. So definitely if you’ve been thinking about it, do it now, real food, whole life.com/resources, and that is called the simplified guide to wellness routines. Be sure to come back next week, hit subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, because we will be talking about meals, healthy, eating, healthy food habits for unpredictable schedules, um, some similarities, but lots of really practical applied ideas for eating healthy. When you’re a routine, when you don’t have a routine, you, when life gets a little bit unpredictable. So come on back that as always. I want to thank you so much for listening for being part of this conversation and part of this real good movement. Thank you again so much for listening until next time here’s to feeling. Go ahead.