9 Steps to Creating an Epic Routine

The idea of routine scares most people. I hear it all the time “It's boring,” or “I can’t commit so why bother?”, or “I’ll start tomorrow,” which leads to never starting at all.

But the most successful people in the world have a routine, one that works for them, that they crave and that makes them epic (read: successful). So if an efficient routine is one of the common denominators for success in life, then why the hell don’t you have one for yourself?!

Now creating a routine means banishing limiting beliefs, killing bad habits and adopting new ones. A successful routine will give you more energy throughout the day, will keep you healthy and productive and will absolutely give you more time back to be with your family. ← I know this is so so important to you because I asked hundreds of entrepreneur parents and the #1 pain they experience in raising a family and managing a business is the guilt they have for working on their business over being with their kids or partner.

So, if you’re open to making a change TODAY, then let’s get started.

It’s tough but so worth it.

1. Time Chunk.

Time chunking is one of the most efficient ways to be productive. It’s the best method and technique of thinking to help you better organize your life.

Chunking is the grouping together of similar tasks so that they can be completed efficiently without added stress.

When people don’t achieve their goals, it’s not because of their lack of ability to do so, it’s because they are f***** unorganized. They dabble on a project here and there, but nothing is brought through to completion because of the dabbling. They focus too much on everything and not on the bite-sized chunks they really should be paying attention to.  I realized how unorganized I once was because of this. And now, my days are chunked into similar tasks all while harnessing my most creative and productive times of the day.

Every morning I follow the same pattern in chunking my days. Here is an example of my typical day:

Chunk #1: Me time! From 5 am - 6: 30 am is my time. I wake up, get ready, write my morning pages, have some tea, and set my intention for the day. If time permits, which it usually does, I will start writing. Either a blog post, an Instagram update or strategize with the course I am creating.

Chunk #2: Connection time! From 6:30 - 7:40 am time with my boys. I help them get ready in the morning and usually spend some time snuggling or playing board games. At 7:30 we leave for the school bus, and then I drive to Crossfit.

Chunk #3: Sweat!  From 7:45 - 9:00 am I do a Crossfit WOD. If I can’t make this class, I will go at noon, but I always schedule some fitness into my day (Accept for Thursdays which are my rest days.) return home, shower and eat breakfast (eggs and veggies.

Chunk #4: Creative time! From 10 am - 12 pm this is when I write, brainstorm, or organize my day/week. I find that anything after lunch is less creative for me, so I harness this time of the day for this type of work.

Chunk #4: Lunchtime! from 12 - 1 pm I make lunch for Dan and I. We typically eat together and chat business.

Chunk #5: Sharing time! From 1 - 3 pm is the optimal time for sales calls, meetings, Facebook lives, and other phone calls.  I book almost all of my coaching calls in this time block.

Chunk #6: Wrap up! From 3 - 4:30 pm I wrap up the tasks I started earlier in the day and complete my writing assignments.

Chunk #7: Evening routine! From 4:30 - 6:30 I am with the boys, making dinners, prepping lunches for the next day, doing homework and tidying up. We use the Family Conversation Deck and ask each other questions and hang out. When everything is cleaned up, and the boys have had their bath, I’ll open my book.

Chunk #8: Reading! From 7 pm - 8 pm I read my 10-pages. Every day I commit to reading at least 10-pages of a book (I have a few on the go) that related to my current situation, like parenting, high performance, launching a course, mompreneuring and business.

^ Dan puts the boys to bed every night, but when he is traveling, my routine is a bit different. Bedtime for them is 7:45 pm, but there are a couple things we need to complete before we hit the hay:

  1. Review our Martell Method point system (the method we’ve implemented where the boys can earn points for good behavior based on specific criteria).

  2. Brush teeth

  3. Read our books. Max is in grade 1 at the time of this post so every night he reads us 5 books (which takes about 3 minutes) Then we read them 1-2 other books.

Chunk #9: Post-kid time! If I haven’t completed my 10-pages, this is when I will do it. On days where my brain is overworked, I will watch something on Netflix (we all need a break!) Currently I am obsessed with Queen of the South. But Dan and I will also watch YouTube videos (all educational stuff) and hang out. Lights out at 9 pm.

Note: Housework is only ever allowed to get done before 9 am and after 5 pm. Working from home is tough as I can easily get distracted by everything. Kids activities are only scheduled for the weekends (unless something has to fall during the week), but we usually keep our evenings open for being present with each other.

2. Go on an Information Diet

If you are subscribed to numerous newsletters, are reading several books at a time and listening to too many podcasts, all in order to gain the knowledge you need to solve a problem, it’s safe to say that you have information overload.

Perhaps it’s time to go on an information diet.

As I was (and still am) creating my course Rock Solid Routine, I was hungry for the best tips and advice to get me going. I was subscribed to Grace Lever, Amy Porterfield, Aaron Fletcher, Melyssa Griffin, and many many more. Hitting up every podcast under the sun about list building and pre-selling and creating a course and sales and funnels … blah blah blah. I was trying to take the best from each expert and Frankenstein my approach. What a sh*t show. [Not recommended!]

Alas, as my inbox was blowing up with emails *only* from the newsletters that I subscribed to, I knew it was time to let it all go. I had enough information in my head to teach a Ph.D. in marketing a course. So I unsubscribed and went on a total information diet (minus the monthly books I read - those are still a must no matter what!)

I stopped online shopping, stopped reading others blogs, stop tuning into the gossip and only focused on the things I needed to learn or know to help me reach my goal.

With that, I made LEAPS with my progress, and my productivity went through the roof.

3. Use Timers for everything

You may have heard of the Pomodoro technique. A time management method that uses a timer to break down work intervals. Typically the intervals are 25 minutes, with a 5-minute break, but you can create the technique that best works for you.

I recently started using the MiracleCube which comes in several cubes with various time intervals. The one I like is the 5, 10, 20, 30-minute timer -- and it’s purple my fave color! As I write this, I am using the 20-minute interval to write each section of this blog post. As the alarm beeps, I stand up, shake things out, and start it all over again. It’s a forcing function to actually complete the sections before the times up. Great for those that easily get distracted.

With my kids, we use the 1,3, 5, 9-minute timer for routines like brushing their teeth: 1-minute for the top teeth and 1-minute for the lower teeth. 5-minutes to get changed and ready for the bus, and a 9-minute timer (warning) before bedtime.

The timer helps you stay focused on the task at hand which inevitably makes you more productive.

4. Review your day the night before

If you’re a busy entrepreneur parent like myself, just thinking about the next day is tough enough, let alone planning or reviewing it. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed something or showed up late to an appointment because of my lack of due diligence.

A simple review of your calendar, setting out the things you’ll need first thing in the morning, mentally prepping for the day ahead, will help you with focus and productivity.

For my business, I review my Trello cards and due dates before I log off for the night. I also take a peek at my calendar to make sure I know where I have to be and when. Knowing my day's events reduces my worry and leaves me less stressed, which defaults into a better nights sleep.

5. Schedule as far out as possible

Sunday’s are great planning and prep days. Morning coffee + weekly calendar + some chill music = productivity galore. I don’t know why we all don’t take advantage of those moments more?!  Taking about 20-minutes every Sunday you can plan your week (meetings, kids activities, alone time, date night) and get an idea of what meals need to be made.

I use the time to review my business’s content calendar and upcoming meetings making sure there is nothing I need to prepare for and, if there is, I am ready for it.

Birthday parties typically fall on this day, and it seems like my kids are BFF’s with 365 kids who all happen to have their birthday parties on a Sunday. Because of this (and the metaphor could also be used for adult parties and other activities), we only go to the parties for kids that we know and that our boys are good friends with. If they get invited by a kid we’ve never met or heard of, we kindly decline even if our schedules are open. Sometimes my boys get upset, but we fill that void with other family-focused activities.

The biggest game changer for my family was the introduction of the Couples Weekly Meeting. Dan and I meet every Friday to discuss a few things like role ratings, travel schedule, finances and issues. It’s a great opportunity to nip any problems in the bud and to think long term about important issues like money and education.

6. Keep a ‘dump’ journal

I use the ‘Dump it’ technique. I throw up all my garbage thoughts before I go to bed or first thing in the morning to release the negative energy and make space for the things I am grateful for.  To do this simple write down all the things that worry you or that you need to get done. I keep a Fieldnotes book next to my bed with a Pilots Pen so that I don’t wake up my husband if I need to throw up thoughts in the middle of the night. This will not only help you sleep, but will make you more focused.

If I happen to dump an issue that warrants a longer journal entry, I’ll re-write it into my personal journal, but 99% of the time the things I need to get out of my head or stupid tasks that worry me.

7. Create (or update) your workspace

Clear the f**** clutter! Visual distractions are just that, distractions.

The only thing you need in your workspace are the things that are contributing to your project/task/goal. Everything else is fluff.

Pay attention to your desktop, your chair (is it supporting you or hurting you?), the things lying around (do they serve a purpose or are they collecting dust?).

Right now, take 2-minutes a throw out, giveaway or remove five things from your workspace. Do that every day until you feel it is as clean and tidy as it should be.

Your browser is also another distraction. Do you have notifications popping up all the time or a million tabs open at once? The task that you are working on now is it the only window or document you have open? It should be. Your bookmarks - should you be deleting some? I think so!

8. Set Boundaries

If you work from home as I do, housework is always the culprit. so I had to set my own boundaries and expectation of others.  For me, by 9 am all housework is to stop regardless of what is done. Between 9 - 5 pm Monday to Friday and Sunday afternoons if I am working and the kids are home they know not to distract me. I set rules for them to be entertained, to grab their own snacks, and to self-regulate their screen time.

If you work outside of the home, set boundaries around expectations like childcare, pickup, and dropoff, meal, lunches, bedtime routine, homework, etc. You can’t be a 100% parent and 100% entrepreneur. Everyone needs to contribute. Even kids as young as two can learn to tidy up after themselves. Stop being the do-it-all mom because it’s not serving anyone. Set our boundaries and allow others in your household to do the same.

Be firm.

9. Just stir the pot

No, this not about surfacing issues with malice. I am talking about focusing on only one thing at a time.
I love this quote from one of Oprah's SuperSoul Sunday episode where she interviews Michael Pollan, mindfulness experts who explain that mindfulness is about focus (aha!) and when you’re cooking, cook. “If you’re stirring the pot, just stir the pot.” – Michael Pollan. It’s profound. To be mindful means to be entirely in this moment now, focusing on one core thing. Not dabbling here and there, but in-the-zone type focus.

Do you ever get that deep into your work that you lose all track of time? You are hyper-focused on one thing and the time just slips away. That’s ‘just stirring the pot.’  Be in the moment and get that thing done that you are doing or working on.

Making dinner? Just make dinner.

Writing a blog post? Just write the damn post.

On a client call? Just focus on that conversation.

Doing research? Just focus on the information that will justify your hypothesis.

Just. Stir. The. Pot.