I think the biggest push I used towards developing daily routines, aside from the continual
nagging encouraging from my doctors, my mother, and pretty much everyone else who knows me, was discovering Unfuck your Habitat. Their motto is “terrifying motivation for lazy people with messy homes,” and it was right up my alley.
I already had a nightly routine of meds/shower/teeth brushing, and a morning routine of taking my meds while I’m in the bathroom for morning ablutions, so building on it, one at a time, was quite possible. One of the things UfYH encourages is to make your bed every morning. I started doing that, and it’s quite comforting, actually; my room looks pretty put together just by doing that, even if I don’t bother retrieving all the fancy pillows from the chair they currently live in. Getting into a made bed at night with the wrinkles all pulled out in the morning so it’s smooth at night is really nice, too, and helps me feel less anxious. Actually, getting my bedroom put together from the disaster it had been since moving and two rounds of bedbugs, helped dramatically lessen my anxiety in general. My bedroom can be my haven now, rather than a room I want to avoid due to fear of bedbugs or anxiety due to the general disarray. It’s easy to add that step to every morning, so once I’d made that a habit, I tackled the evening routines.
Every night at 10:30 Eastern, UfYH posts an Unfuck Tomorrow Morning list:
Wash the dishes in your sink
Get your outfit for tomorrow together, including accessories
Set up coffee/tea/breakfast
Make your lunch
Put your keys somewhere obvious
Wash your face and brush your teeth
Charge your electronics
Pour a little cleaner in the toilet bowl (if you don’t have pets or children or sleepwalking adults)
Set your alarm
Go to bed at a reasonable hour
I already did a few of those- my keys are always attached to my purse which sits on a little table next to the door, and bathing, making lunch, and setting out breakfast were already done, but I definitely didn’t wash my dishes, or get my outfit ready. What I started doing to decrease my laundry load from making a mess of myself once I got home was immediately change out of my work clothes when I got home, and either go straight for PJs or a tshirt and jeans if I had to go someplace. I now put my work clothes away and pick the morning’s outfit out, setting it to the front of the closet, and I get the accessories ready as I put away the accessories I was already wearing. I wear headbands daily (I have short hair and feel naked without something obnoxious in my hair) so they’re all hanging on my mirror, arranged by color (because I am OCD.) I just switch them out, and if I’m really feeling ambitious, I get out earrings. I live in layers with sweaters on top in the winter, so I don’t wear earrings much when it’s cold because they tend to catch and either tear the sweater or rip the earring out of my ear, neither of which are pleasant. Of course, I also wear stupidly long, dangly earrings, because I am nothing if not ostentatious.
It’s really weird, but doing my dishes as I’m getting ready for bed is really soothing. It feels like things are in order. As I get ready for bedtime, I gather up things that are lost- socks, dishes, whatever- and return them to their proper home, and then do the dishes. It helps me find my very limited counter space and definitely cuts down on stress over having ALL the dishes in the sink. I will sometimes skip it if there’s just one dish in the sink, but now that it’s habit, that will sort of grate on me and I’ll think about it as I finish going about my evening, so I’ll go back and finish it. The tidying of my living space helps me feel like I can handle the morning, because I fear that my landlady or maintenance will have to come in unannounced for some reason and decide I am a filthy human being. (I have strange phobias.)
Once I’ve finished the dishes, I pack up my lunch for the next day, and set out my breakfast, which is always two granola bars, and put the diet coke I drink on my way to work in my lunchbox as well. I then go take my meds, shower, then brush my teeth and take care of any other bathroom needs. The last step is to go give the cat treats because otherwise she will beat on the door and be otherwise obnoxious. If for some reason I haven’t finished picking out clothes, I do that at this point. I am now adding “meditation” to the end of the list, as it helps me to center and get drowsy.
At 11:00 Eastern, UfYH posts some variation of the following: Members of the Shut Your Damn Computer Down and Fucking Go to Bed club, it’s time!
I try to be in bed by 11:00, because I need to be out of bed by 7:00 (or 7:15 if I feel like pushing it.) I used to be able to get away with getting up at 7:30 but now I have to be at work by 8, and I have a 35 minute drive. I am, unfortunately, usually a couple minutes late, which is why I’m working so hard on getting to bed and getting up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Which, as a lifetime member of the Night Owl club, is physically painful to do on a weekend when I’d much rather sleep until noon.
UfYH also posts challenges periodically, and helps with decluttering and keeping up with your living space, rather than ignoring messes. As someone who is VERY good at ignoring messes, it’s been very helpful. Honestly, being on my own with a pet who only goes to the bathroom where she is supposed to, helps a lot. It’s my own filth, so it grates on me a bit more than someone else’s filth that I can’t do anything about. My biggest challenge is sweeping, because I have hardwood floors and I cannot seem to stop the litter tracking to save my life, so I have to sweep a lot and I often don’t. My sister gave me her swiffer and I’m collecting microfiber cloths to use rather than buying the disposable ones. It definitely helps with the cat hair, which a broom or vacuum tends to throw in the air rather than catch. Clorox toilet wands have helped me with keeping up with the toilet, and I’m not the best at dusting but I’m getting better. Now if only I had a reliable way to keep up with my laundry. The building machines are a joke and hauling everything to a decent laundromat is a pain, plus there’s the ever-present fear of bedbugs in Cincinnati, so I pretty much put off laundry until I am out of underwear, which is probably not a good habit to keep.
I’m working on sorting out a good routine for when I get home from work. I put away my purse, coat, and shoes, feed the cat so she stops tripping me, and then go change out of work clothes. I think I’m going to change immediately into workout clothes and do my yoga before I start dinner, because I don’t think yoga on a full stomach sounds like it would be much fun. We’ll see how that goes.
Making habits helps me keep up with it all, so even if I have a couple off days, it doesn’t build to epic, disastrous proportions, and some of them are so ingrained now that I just do then without even thinking about it. My bed gets made as soon as I get up regardless of whether or not I’m coming straight back, for example, and my dishes are seldom ignored. It’s kind of nice, and being able to say “Hey, I made my bed today” even if that’s ALL I managed to accomplish, makes me feel better on those really bad days.