7 steps to balance by automating routines

We’ve had a lot of playdates over the summer holidays. The common theme with mums is that parenting is tough. Even tougher when you have children with special needs (whether diagnosed or not). And yet, in talking with each other there is a camaraderie that we’re not alone. We often think we have drawn the shortest straw and get frustrated at our own kids. But we share common experiences, ups and downs, and have our own struggles and achievements.

All our normals are ours alone.

Brendan O’Shannasy, superyacht captain

While the context of this quote is privileged childhoods of the super rich billionaires’ families, it’s worth remembering that it rarely pays to compare. Our normals are ours alone – our children are unique and progress at their own pace.

The backdrop to all this is looking after ourselves. We can’t care and support our kids unless we are in a healthy place mentally and physically. Having children with a diagnosis means more life admin – appointments to book, work schedules to juggle, payments and claims to make. It means you need to be more emotionally calm and stable because life throws you more waves (and that’s just the meltdown over breakfast).

Balance is about supporting you in calm yet productive living. It’s about putting the admin on autopilot and making it effortless. It’s about saving time so you can move more slowly and calmly. Balance is about “being in the moment” as an antidote to imbalance.

The first 7 days of the Balance course looks at automating routines. This saves time, mental load, effort and frees up creativity and energy.

balance - 21 steps to greater balance, calm and productivity by automating routines

Automating goals

It’s not an uncommon story – you set New Year’s resolutions then in a couple of weeks you’ve fallen off the wagon already. The fitness gym industry relies on this and data shows that while January accounts for 12% of new gym sign ups, many stop turning up as soon as the third week of January. 

According to James Clear’s Atomic Habits and B.J Foggs’ Tiny Habits, it’s because you’re focusing on the wrong thing. 
When you want to lose weight, don’t hop on the scales everyday to measure your weight and see if you’ve met your goal. Instead, focus on measuring and rewarding the actions (or habits) that will help you reach your goal. Track if you exercise everyday and reward a full 7 days of physical activity. These habits are what will help you meet your goal, not the goal itself.

4 simple steps to automate goals

So how can we make it even easier to meet goals through automation? 
There are four simple steps to building good habits, and it starts with signing up the the Balance emails to find out more.

Automating Morning Routines

close up photography of cup of coffee
Photo by Jason Villanueva on Pexels.com

Mornings with kids can be stressful. They wake up grumpy and don’t want to eat any of the breakfast options available. The kids start fighting at the table then incessantly talk at you while you’re still waking up. Then they take forever to put on their clothes before finally throwing their shoes across the room because the laces won’t undo. They are the polar opposite of calm in the morning.

Mornings even without kids can be stressful. You have a list of things to do before racing out the door on a timeline so you’re not late. And there’s never enough time for all the amazing self care habits you promised yourself at New Years.

Automating routines help structure parts of the day so you don’t have to think, just do. It can free your mind to think on other things (like being creative) while sneakily meeting your goals. Routines can be ways to carve our mental space for creativity. They are also a great way to help form new habits.

Find an example of a morning routine and a hint for one simple environmental cue to make mornings easier.

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Work Schedules

Have you had that moment at work where you just find yourself losing time on a task you do often? Even creative knowledge work, from blogging to designing lessons, has routines to it. But if the information you need and the process to follow isn’t there, it can take ages to get your brain into work mode, losing time and productivity. Hello procrastination and goodbye brain focus!

I spent a year working overseas where the motto was definitely to work long hours. Until the boss went home, everyone was in the office. Even if they were just reading and not working much. Now, I’d prefer to work hard and then get out of there, not work slowly over long hours. However, the amount of admin in every role has increased exponentially and it seems impossible to get out fast at the end of the day.

4 ways to create work schedules

So how do you reduce admin, manage workload, and save brain power at work so you can get home and enjoy life?

Routines are beneficial because they can “buffer the adverse impact of stress exposure on mental health.” They provide a sense of control and regularity in the face of work stresses. Routines conserve energy due to their automatic set of actions. They also increase our effectiveness to get things done. If our mental resources aren’t taken up by thinking about what to do next, it frees up resources for increased mental, creative and emotional performance. It’s even been claimed that routines contribute to making life feel meaningful

So, if you want to be more efficient, put in less effort yet be more creative and happy at work, look for routines. 4 ways to create work routines are in the Balance emails!

Automating Evening Routines

tidy and clean kitchen and dining area
Photo by Mark McCammon on Pexels.com

I absolutely hate waking up in the morning and walking out into a messy living space with unclean dishes and unfolded washing. It makes me feel preemptively exhausted about all the work I have to do before I’ve even done it. It makes me feel stressed, hurried, and time pressured in the morning rather than relaxed. Preemptive tiredness, or anticipatory fatigue as it’s called in the literature, is a predictor of actual mental and physical fatigue.

Once the day starts it’s go, go, go. There never seems to be time to tidy up the mess because you have to race out the door and off to school and work.

And that’s why end of day routines are so important, both at work and at home. Ending the day well means you can wake up refreshed and ready to go again the next day without anticipatory fatigue!

Batch Processing

In the book Life Admin Hacks, the authors talk about the problem of life admin. Arguably, life is more complicated today and comes with more administrative load. According to a Life Admin survey in 2021, 21% of Australians had reduced their workload due to life admin demands. 47% of participants said they might pursue career opportunities if their life admin was under better control.

To free your time, authors Mia Northrop and Dinah Rowe Roberts recommend lists (lots of lists), spreadsheets for comparisons and batch processing in order to keep track of admin and save time.

You might batch process at work to save time. There’s a time investment setting up to start work, and grouping similar tasks together saves that setup time as you only do it once. For example, having fixed times of the day to answer emails all in one go. Or completing all writing tasks in one go like reports, blog posts or assessment feedback. You can use the same idea of batch processing at home.

Routine Care

close up photo of yearly planner beside a pen
Photo by Jess Bailey Designs on Pexels.com

Spring cleaning always happens in spring, when the weather is starting to warm up and the house opens up after winter. Dental appointments for kids are every 6 months, and the car gets serviced once a year too. Then there’s the semi-regular maintenance tasks around home. On a smaller scale, there’s activities of washing hair during the week, house cleaning, washing towels or grocery shopping each week.
How do you manage these regular activities over long and short timescales so you’re super organised?

Well, the answer again is routines. Conserve your energy and reduce the constant ‘mental load’ on you to remember and think about all these activities and when they need to be scheduled. Your annual leave time can match up with big regular appointments so it’s more convenient. Having routine times also means you don’t miss out – call up and book in advance so the appointments work on your schedule not the other way around.

Use a yearly calendar and planner to document the semi-regular activities you have. 

Automating money routines

We’d all love to have our money work for us, rather than the other way around. To have a healthy rainy day savings account, and spending without debts.

Pop your email address in below to sign up for the Balance email course, where you can read the 3 tips about automating money on Day 7.

Subscribe to the Capybara Crew and join the 21 day email course. We promise we won’t spam. Take a look at our Privacy Policy for more info.

Automating routines for life balance

So that’s our 7 tips for

  • automating goals with habits that stick
  • automating morning routines for calmness
  • setting up work schedules for effortless and slow productivity
  • automating evening routines to save mental load
  • batch processing admin to save time
  • scheduling routine care in advance to keep you organised and
  • automating money to reach your financial goals.
balance - 21 steps to greater balance, calm and productivity through automating routines
First 7 days on automating routines

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