Habits that Work for You
Your day is full of working habits. From that first time you push snooze, to the time you get up, brush your teeth, and put on your clothes. To where you find your keys, wallet and phone just before heading out the door. As I spoke about in my last post, Let the Daily be Deliberate, these seemingly trivial and insignificant moments add up to so much of our lives. So my question for you today, Dear Reader, is are your habits working for you, or against you?
When your habits of work are working for you, they can turn the daily grind into a rhythm and a routine that brings with it the comfort of the expected and the normal. They can bring you to a dailiness that helps you feel as prepared as possible for what lies ahead. By contrast, when they are working against you, you will feel habitually behind and unprepared for what your day holds, always scrambling to keep on pace with the demands placed upon you by your actual work, whatever that may be.
Morning Habits, that make our Routines
Let’s zero in for a moment on those pesky morning routine habits. The Lazy Genius, Kendra Hennessy, has an entire podcast episode where she talks about the power of a morning routine and how everyone has one, even if that routine means having no routine. (Click here to listen.) If that is your daily life, then that is your routine. This is where you can think back to my previous blog where I talked about how habits are basically just pre-made decisions; some of which we have fallen into because we haven’t been intentional in those decisions.
I know we all come from different personality types, from hyper structured/organized Type-A person, to the super creative/spontaneous left brained person; but allow me to argue that a little routine is good for everyone. If you are the less structured type, but find yourself constantly waking up in a sweat, with no time for breakfast, rushing around to find your phone and your keys…allow me to submit to you that you are starting your day in a sweat of anxiety that will likely bleed into the rest of your activities whether you think it will or not.
And to the Type A person who is tempted to write this whole “live intentionally by creating fruitful habits” thing off because you already have a structured schedule, let me ask you this: When was the last time you really thought about the habits you are making and keeping, and whether or not they are yielding the fruit that you want to be cultivating in your life? You could be super organized, with a routine for everything, and still not be cultivating fruitful habits. Your life might look like a very clean trap of legalism and safety. Dear Reader, whichever camp you think you find yourself in, I urge you to examine this! Your life may be full of untapped potential that could be awoken by something as simple as starting to make your bed every morning.
My husband, who is not at all a morning person, has finally found the value of giving himself enough time in the morning to get his cup of coffee, a decent breakfast, and a little quiet time with the Lord. His work is extremely demanding and often exhausting, not to mention we have two (almost three!) small children at home. But for him, this morning routine before heading into the office, though hard to start at first, is now far worth the price of getting out of bed when his alarm goes off. We have realized that this is especially significant for him because he is an introvert, who works a demanding job and also has little kids and an extroverted wife to attend to whenever he gets home. Until this change, he basically got NO ALONE TIME EVER. It’s been really cool to see how even just a little time alone in the mornings is serving him better, and helping him to perform better in all the various roles that he is asked to fill throughout the day.
Habits of Homemaking
I’ve always been a morning person, so getting up with the sun in the summer isn’t much of a change for me. But when the Lord began to demolish my perfectionism 5 years ago, and I needed a new motivation to clean, habits of homemaking became the first life giving habits that my family and I benefited from.
Good home keeping habits have not only allowed me to spend less time working in my home, but they have also freed me up to spend less mental energy even thinking about what needs cleaning. This all adds up to more time enjoying the family that is sheltered by the walls of my home, even if those walls do occasionally contain a rogue smudge of peanut butter.
Some people enjoy the routine of having one day a week set aside for cleaning, for others (like me) I know that with little people constantly needing things from me, that one day puts way too much on my plate. So for me, a cleaning routine looks like having certain tasks that I do on certain days of the week (usually). This gives me the freedom to not stress about when the bathrooms are getting cleaned, because I know I cleaned them last Wednesday, and I’m going to clean them again on Wednesday. I see hand prints on the windows and I know that I can leave it until Thursday, which frees me up to just live in the middle of the everyday messy with my little people, instead of constantly fretting over mess. I give myself two days for our regular laundry, and one separate day to wash linens. I do this because I know that some weeks there is going to be more than others, and almost every week I end up leaving at least one load in the dryer for a day longer than I should, or I end up leaving clean clothes folded in the basket at the end of the day instead of getting them put away. This is just part of knowing yourself and what is realistic for your life, as well as what actually works for you. The key is to be flexible. If I have something going on, like a sick child, that doesn’t allow me to get to a certain task the day I normally would, I have “buffer days” that give me the needed time to catch up and at least hit the high spots on the things I missed. This keeps my routine from being stifling and legalistic, and instead keeps it doing what routines and habits should be doing best; working for me not against me. Not scheduling something to clean every single day of the week gives me the freedom I need to rearrange when my life requires it.
The practical application of these ideas will always differ person to person, from capacities, to stage of life, to work schedule, to personality type. If you are in a season of life where one day of cleaning makes more sense, by all means GO FOR IT. The important thing is to realize that your routines and habits can either be working for you or against you, and that it is up to you to set your intention and create the habits that will best serve the life style of your family, as well as their physical needs.
You can’t makeover all your life’s habits in one day. Say it aloud with me. YOU CAN’T MAKEOVER ALL YOUR LIFE’S HABITS IN ONE DAY. And that’s OK.
But you can make one new fruitful habit today. That’s why I created this short worksheet, 5 Steps to Cultivating One (new) Fruitful Habit. It’s not super fancy or complicated, but if you are hankering to try making a new habit today, why don’t you give it a look and see where it takes you. Maybe you start with your morning routine, or maybe it’s your evening routine. Maybe you reevaluate the way you are cleaning (or not cleaning) your house right now and add one step that makes things just a little bit better. Maybe you examine the way you structure meal planning (or don’t). Let it be an area of high impact for you. Click here to start making little changes today!
Dear Reader, I pray you aren’t too daunted as you think about your habits of work and whether or not they are working for you. My prayer is that instead you would see that even some of the most seemingly insignificant changes can make a world of a difference for you, for your family, for your life.
And if you have something to share, or a question to ask, please reach out! You can find me on Instagram @gracieishomesteady, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or just leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.
May we realize that we have more potential for growth and change than we every thought possible, and may this spur us on to love and good deeds by the grace of God, for the glory of God.