Cultivating healthy phone boundaries

Cultivating healthy phone boundaries

We have a powerful tool right at our fingertips: our phone.

It’s an amazing source for connection, business, and entertainment. It’s also an unfortunate source of distraction as I’m sure we’ve all experienced. How many hours have you wasted mindlessly scrolling Instagram or checking your email for the 104th time? For me, it’s way too many to count.

I love those apps on my phone, but there’s a time and a place for using and enjoying them. I knew something about my habit needed to change when I was beginning and ending my day on my phone. That kept me up too late and took away precious time I could/should be using for other more important things.

Boundaries needed to be determined. 

The boundaries have been set and my relationship with my phone is so much healthier. To help make the boundary setting easier for you, I’m sharing nine tips that I used to make it happen.

Use an actual alarm clock, not your phone.

I’m not as self disciplined as I need to be first thing in the morning. If I use my phone as my alarm clock, it’s way too easy to just open it up and play with it in bed. That’s not how I want to use my first moments of the day. Spend the money and purchase an alarm clock — it’s well worth it.

Charge your phone away from your bed.

Since your phone is no longer your alarm clock, you can move it away from your nightstand. Put your phone to “bed” at your designated time and let it charge there. Ideally this is outside of your bedroom, but at the very least across your room. Removing it from your immediate space will keep you from mindlessly using it.

Set and respect time limits.

I highly recommend limiting your screen time. I’ve found it’s easiest for me when I create concrete “rules” (like no phone after 10pm) because it takes the thought out of it. Set time limits that work best for you. The blue light emitted from our devices negatively affects our sleep, so take that into consideration when choosing your phone’s bedtime.

Apple released a built in app called Screen Time and it’s the best! You can set time limits for certain apps, big ones for me being social networking and productivity (apps like email). It tracks your usage and will actually “lock” apps if you’ve gone over your limit. I have my time limit set from 10pm-10am so that I’m giving myself plenty of time at night and in the morning to take care of myself and have a break from my phone. If you have an iPhone, this is a must! I’ve heard of other apps and websites that do similar functions, but I love that it’s just built into the phone’s software.

Unfollow/unsubscribe/delete.

Clean up your digital life. Are you following someone you don’t enjoy seeing? Unfollow. Are you getting emails that you always delete? Unsubscribe. Are there apps on your phone that you never use? Delete. You’ll spend less time on your phone when you’re not having to sort through so much extra stuff.

Turn off push notifications.

If you’re anything like me, you feel a sudden need to check your phone when a notification comes through. The point of push notifications is to grab your attention and make you click through to whatever it’s notifying you about. Use your phone on your own time and desire, so say goodbye to those push notifications. You can check in when you want and the notifications will still be there.

Practice social media/phone free time.

It’s a great habit to practice social media free days and phone free time. For my husband and I, date nights are generally phone free. We don’t mind a quick Instagram story to share something cool we’re doing or grabbing a photo to document the fact that we dressed up. BUT we don’t want to be the couple that’s spending their whole dinner with faces in the phones. The best things in life are experienced away from our phones.

Schedule posts in advance.

You might be someone that runs a small business and absolutely needs to use your phone — I totally get it! Try creating and scheduling your posts (social media, blog, podcast, etc) in advance and then set aside some time to engage on that post once it’s live. You’ll be more intentional with your time and actually free yourself from feeling like you need to be glued to your phone.

Enjoy phone free hobbies.

Get outside. Read a physical book. Play a board or card game. Take your dog on a walk. Put the phone down and enjoy. And don’t feel the pressure to pick up the phone to share about what you’re doing with all your friends. It still happened even if you didn’t share it.

Seek accountability.

Accountability can be with another person or with your phone itself. The Screen Time app I was talking about provides a huge source of accountability for me. It literally “locks” my apps at a certain time so I can have downtime. It’s helpful to share your goals for healthy boundaries with someone else because they may have good ideas to overcome your struggles and can encourage you to be phone free when you’re together. I believe accountability is always a good thing when we’re talking about something we want to improve.

There ya have it! Nine tangible tips and my favorite tool to help you cultivate healthy phone boundaries. Is this an area you struggle in? Which tip will you implement first?

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Flourishing Contentment: The Challenge

Flourishing Contentment: The Challenge

Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.

I have found the best way for me to overcome a bad habit and cultivate a good habit is to participate in a challenge. Sometimes that’s a challenge that I’m doing alone. Sometimes that’s a challenge I’m doing with others. Regardless, I love having a goal to focus on and a set time period to push for it.

It can be overwhelming to try to overhaul our life for forever, but we can make changes for a set period of time and see how it works. Usually it sticks or at least moves me closer towards the ultimate goal.

Spending money used to be a major bad habit. I would mindlessly spend (usually on a credit card), but it was never fulfilling. The moment of opening a new Amazon package would bring a moment of happiness and then that would fade. I’ve come a long way, but I’ve noticed that shopping still has grips on my heart and happiness. The social media comparison certainly doesn’t help.

I’ve been wanting to do a challenge like this for a while, but I always thought “oh this isn’t the best time.” As with anything, there will never be a perfect time, so might as well go for it! So here we are: The Flourishing Contentment Challenge.

To put it simply, this is 30 days of no new stuff and minimizing the stuff you already have in order to make space for peace, joy, and contentment. I was inspired by Nancy Ray’s Contentment Challenge and The Minimalists’ Minimalism Game and thought it would be brilliant to blend the two and put my flourishing spin on it.

The Commitment

  • I commit to not purchasing anything new for 30 days. I am blessed and already have all the things I need. 
  • I commit to decluttering my home little by little for 30 days. I am blessed and have way more than I need.

Read the guidelines below for more information about how we are going to make these two commitments happen.

The Guidelines

  • Determine your why for completing this challenge
    It doesn’t have to be anything grand (although it can be), but having a why will help carry you through the 30 days. It can be something simple like “I want to see if I can do it” or something deep like “I use shopping as a way of coping with stress or sadness and I want to break the chains.” This is totally up to you, but take some time to think about what’s drawing you to this challenge.
  • Prepare in advance
    Prepare your heart and your actual space. Do any last minute shopping. This is not a last minute splurge shopping trip (we’re breaking up with that habit, remember?), but an opportunity to get items you actually need. If there are others living in your home, have a discussion with them about your intentions and goals for this challenge. Set a date to begin and put it on the calendar.
  • Choose something inspirational to consume
    This may be a book, podcast, blog, or YouTube channel. Whatever you choose, try not to purchase it. Maybe it’s something you already own or you can borrow from a friend. The library is an incredible resource! Podcasts, blogs, and YouTube videos are free. Some of my favorites are The Joy of Less by Francine Jay (book), A Simplified Life by Emily Ley (book), and The Rachel Cruze Show (YouTube).
  • Gifts + necessities are okay
    Please continue to purchase food and needed items from the grocery store. Buy your mother a thoughtful gift for her birthday. The point is not to completely cut down your lifestyle or refrain from celebrating loved ones, but to reset your heart when it comes to stuff. With this challenge in mind and the shift it causes, I can pretty much guarantee you will shop differently.
  • Replace your tendency to shop with something fulfilling
    When we’re trying to cultivate a new habit, it’s important to replace the “bad” with something “good.” We’re taking away shopping from our life for 30 days, so that’s going to leave a hole that will be filled. Lets fill it intentionally. This may be a hobby, prayer, journaling, a walk outside. Whatever sounds enjoyable and fulfilling to you.
  • Simplify your space
    Each day of the challenge you will declutter an item, but this will increase each day. For example, on day 1 of the challenge you will declutter 1 item; day 2 = 2 items; day 3 = 3 items; day 9 = 9 items; day 30 = 30 items. Make sense? Anything, big or small, can go! Donate, sell, or trash.

The less clutter, the more breathing room you have for what matters. -Emily Ley

Are you ready to truly cultivate peace and contentment? Let me know in the comments below when you will begin this challenge. I believe it has the power to shift your heart and create a happier home.

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How to spend less + make progress in your finances

How to spend less + make progress in your finances

Hi, my name is Rachel and I’m a recovering shopaholic.

After graduating college and one job change, I found myself in a job that paid us weekly. Is that the best thing ever or what!? Money was coming in weekly. I wasn’t rich in any sense, but I felt like I was and I certainly spent like I was. Amazon orders and other online shopping boxes showed up at the apartment at least weekly. I didn’t keep a budget. I just spent what I wanted until I literally couldn’t spend anymore.

I had my wake up call when I had to ask my parents for money because I didn’t think I could make the next bill. My parents are gracious and loving, so they didn’t think twice about helping me, but I was a grown, college educated, employed woman who needed help from her parents because she wasn’t handling her money well.

If you are in that place, no judgement at all. I’ve been there, but you don’t have to stay there. Please, learn from my mistakes.

It’s really hard to make progress in our finances when there’s no extra money left over at the end of the month. Maybe you have debt payoff or savings goals — those can’t be met without excess money to go towards it.

One solution: spend less.

Another solution: earn more.

Best case scenario is to do both simultaneously, but if you have to choose just one for now, choose to spend less. You may think that’s impossible. Keep reading because I’m giving you TWELVE tips that I have personally used to get out of debt and save more than I ever thought was possible for me. And I still use these tips. Are you ready to start making progress on your financial goals!? These are in no specific order except for #1…

#1: Budget + Track Spending

If you do nothing else, do this. Budgeting and tracking makes the biggest difference because you’re being mindful of where your money is going. And now that you’re paying attention, you’ll be more wise with it. You may even feel like you’ve gotten a raise! Once those numbers are written down, you can make the choices about where your next dollar will go. “Is it worth going out to eat when I have food at home instead of putting this $30 towards my goal?” That’s up to you.

#2: Utilize a wish list

My husband and I follow Dave Ramsey’s baby steps, so this is something I started doing once our debt was paid off and we had fun money to spend again. I made a note in my phone called “Wishes” and anytime I thought of something I wanted, I’d add it to that list. This gave me the space to really consider if I wanted/needed that item — many times the want for it would fade. I do the same with my Amazon Wish List. I don’t need to buy everything immediately when I want it. Impulse purchase cure.

#3: Don’t kill time in stores

This may seem obvious, but I would still do it. I would use Target or HomeGoods as a way to kill time during my lunch break or waiting for an appointment. We both know you never walk out of those stores empty handed. So, stop flirting with the temptation!

#4: Create + stick to a shopping list

Again, seems obvious, but I used to grocery shop without a list. That was dreadful because I would forget something and purchase way more than I needed. Now I go into stores with a purpose.

#5: Utilize reusable products

What kind of things do you buy often that you could switch out for something reusable? It’s probably the little things, but those add up. I love using straws for my drinks, but I hated having to buy them every month. I also hated the extra waste (#savetheturtles), so I spent $7 on Amazon for 4 stainless steel straws that will last me forever! I bought some magical microfiber cloths to clean my surfaces instead of having to use paper towels and cleaning supplies. It may cost a little more upfront, but it’ll help both your wallet and the planet in the long run.

#6: DIY

This can be applied to any area of your life. Instead of purchasing something, can you make it/do it yourself for free or cheaper? The first example that comes to mind is fruit/veggie cleaner. Instead of purchasing a $15 bottle, I make my own with products already in my kitchen. Another recent example: a tree fell in our backyard a few weeks ago during Hurricane Florence. We could have spent almost $5,000 to have a company remove it, but we decided to get a little help and do it ourselves. It costed us an afternoon — worth it.

#7: Declutter

If you want to change your life and your finances, decluttering is a must! You probably don’t realize the amount of stuff you already have. Why else would you buy 7 of essentially the same black t-shirt?? When you declutter, you will find things you forgot you had that are actually useful to you and you’ll see the things you do have (that you won’t need to purchase). Plus you won’t get suckered into buying all those fun organizational tools. You don’t need em if you don’t have so much crap.

#8: Meal plan + prep

Another one of those things that will take some time and energy upfront, but will save you so much! Meal plan, make your grocery list based on that plan/what you already have, grocery shop, then prep it. This simple rhythm will make your weeks smoother and more enjoyable. You won’t waste food because you’re buying what you need and using it, you won’t eat out as much, and you’ll eat healthier. All around winning!

#9: Get creative with dates

Spouse dates, friend dates — think outside the box. It doesn’t have to be dinner at a restaurant to be meaningful. Go for a walk. Cook dinner at home. Bring over a bottle of wine to your girlfriend’s house and catch up on their comfy couch. Have a movie night. There are many ways to spend time together that are free or super affordable.

#10: Be resourceful

Use the things you already have. I haven’t bought gift wrapping in years except for maybe a few times for wedding gifts. In a large bin I keep gift wrapping (bags, tissue paper, gift card holders, etc) that I’ve been given and use them for gifting others. I remove the labeling and clean out glass jars from candles, cooking supplies, sauces to use for storage. I check out books from my local library instead of buying every one I want to read. Little things add up.

#11: Simplify

Along the lines of decluttering, simplify your space, your schedule, your life. You don’t have to say yes to every event or get together. You don’t have to decorate for every single holiday and season. You don’t have to fill up your walls and counters with home decor. It’s okay to remove things from your plate.

#12: Contentment

Once I started being grateful for the things I already had, something in my heart shifted. As Rachel Cruze says, “live your life, not theirs.” You gotta do what’s best for you. Things will not make you happy. Doing more will not make you happy. Joy comes from within and I believe that starts with being content with your life.

Lets be free from the mindset that we must spend money to be meaningful, to have fun, to display our value. Money is a powerful tool, but when we use it mindlessly we hurt ourselves and others. You get to choose how you spend it. How you spent it demonstrates your priorities.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
-Matthew 6:19-21

In October, I want to challenge myself specifically in the area of contentment. I’ll be sharing all the details about this Contentment Challenge in an upcoming post, but if this sounds like something you want to grow in, stick around. I would love to do this with others!

Will you be using any of these tips? Share your favorite below ❤

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13 things to make your new home shopping smoother

13 things to make your new home shopping smoother

Home shopping is not something most people do every day. It can be a confusing, overwhelming experience especially in a hot market like the Triangle. New home construction can get even trickier because there’s more factors that aren’t there in resale homes, like timing of construction and meetings with the builder. I am a New Home Sales Consultant for a national builder, so it’s a world I live in daily.

When you’re comfortable and equipped with information, you can make much better choices. My goal here is to take some of the confusion and stress out of new home shopping. I have compiled this list based on my interactions with hundreds of customers. Eight questions to ask and five things to consider before walking into the model home that will put you steps ahead. I promise, new home shopping will be fun!

Questions to ask

What is the builder’s construction like?

I’m talking about both style and quality. Of course, we all want a structurally sound home. When you walk through the model or finished available home, does it look like corners were cut in construction? Home construction is a messy process, but the finished result should be a beautiful, safe home. These homes are built by humans, so it won’t necessarily be perfect, but make sure you’re comfortable with the quality. You can get a feeling for the builder’s style by the design options and floor plan characteristics.

What are the included features?

Typically, each neighborhood will have its own set of included features. These are the items that the builder includes at the base price and “higher” options would be done at an additional cost. This is helpful to be on the same page about what you can expect and what you’ll need to add based on your needs and preferences. Things like granite countertops, hardwood flooring, and screened porches are common items that may or may not be included depending on the community.

What are the warranties like?

There may be warranties from both the builder and various manufacturers. For the manufacturer warranties, you’ll likely need to register the item with the company for it to be covered, so make sure you have the information you need at closing and are clear.

Is there post closing customer care? If so, what’s covered?

Builder warranties tend to fall into this post closing care category. The sales consultant is your point of contact during the building process. Post closing there may be a designated customer care team. In an emergency you don’t want to be fumbling to figure out the right contact person, so it’s helpful to know who to go to for what ahead of time. Knowing what is covered by the builder’s customer care team will also give you peace of mind and correct action steps should something happen.

Are there preferred affiliate partners? If so, what is the incentive to use them?

Builders may have an in-house or preferred lender. They may also have a preferred attorney or other affiliate partners to help with the home purchasing process. Usually there are incentives tied to using these partners that you wouldn’t be able to take advantage of otherwise. It should be your choice to use the professional you want, but understand you may not receive the particular incentive (such as $xx of paid closing costs with use of the preferred lender).

What will be built in the future?

This is an especially important question with a brand new neighborhood where construction is just getting started. What amenities will be built for the residents? If there’s open land nearby: who owns it? Are there plans for it? Is there a buffer that would remain even if the land use changed? Public information should be disclosed to the best of the builder’s knowledge.

What is expected of me as a customer?

Unlike a resale home, there are choices to be made throughout the home building process. Even when you are purchasing a quick move-in home, you don’t just sign a contract and wait for your closing date. There may be meetings with the builder, meetings with the New Home Consultant to finalize structural selections, meetings with the Design Gallery to make design selection. Different builders may have different expectations about visits to your home during the process, so find out more about that. You can do inspections at your own cost, but be sure to coordinate with your builder team to ensure the home is ready for the specific inspection.

Are there other savings I’m not currently taking advantage of?

The answer to this question should ideally be “no” because you’ve spent time working with the New Home Consultant and understand fully the costs and savings, but I still think it’s a good question to ask. Sometimes things may get overlooked in the moment plus promotions change. There may be special incentives for teachers/first responders/military personnel, repeat homebuyers with the builder, or for specific home items like a basement.

Things to consider

Clarity on your must haves

You may change your mind throughout the search process and that’s okay. But it’s extremely helpful to have clarity on your must haves. Clarity should be between the decision makers whether that’s just you or you and another person. This will make the entire process smoother and easier because it will help weed out things you don’t want/aren’t important to you. Consider how you want to live in your home. Do you like an open concept? Do you want a loft space or bonus room? Do you want your owner’s bedroom on the first floor? Do you need a flat backyard for gardening or the kid’s play-set? Must haves are different for every person, but taking some time to think them through will greatly help. Maybe watch HGTV or scroll through Pinterest for inspiration. Talk to your friends and family about what they love or wish they could change in their home, but take it with a grain of salt. As I just said, each person is different, but the conversations may shine a new light.

Timeline

If you need to move immediately, you probably will be looking for a quick move-in (inventory) home. This is a home that is currently in progress or even finished and all selections have been made by the builder. If you have flexibility in your timing and/or are very particular about the selections being made, building from the ground up (presale) would be a good route. Timing isn’t always perfect, so this may mean renting for a bit while your home is being finished or extending a lease. It’s worth it though!

Down payment amount

Don’t forget about the money you’re saving while all the excitement is happening! It’s ideal to put at least 20% down so you can avoid PMI (private mortgage insurance). This is insurance for the bank and is paid until you have 20% equity in your home. I know that’s not reasonable for everyone, especially if this is your first home (we put 0% down on our home, so I totally get it). There are different types of loans that will require different down payment amounts – your lender can help find the best fit. With most builders, there is a builder deposit due to secure your home/homesite and then your remaining down payment and closing costs will be due prior to closing. Your lender will confirm these details.

Buying power

Consider your down payment goal, income, and any other savings you may have. Together with those numbers, consider the amount of monthly payment you can afford/want to make. A lender will be able to help with specifics for this, but there are many tools online to get rough estimates so you have a better idea of how much house you’re shopping for. Monthly home expense is made up of: Principal, Interest, Taxes, Insurance, HOA (if there is one).

Using a realtor

Customers don’t always realize that the New Home Consultant represents the seller aka the builder. This means that ultimately their loyalty is with the builder, but they still owe you honesty, fairness, and disclosure. Many people find it helpful to have a trusted real estate agent representing them on the buyer side of the transaction. There are people that purchase a new home without an agent and people that purchase with an agent. Do whatever makes you feel most comfortable.

You may think of many other questions aside from these. Don’t ever hesitate to ask! A home is the biggest purchase most people will make. Ask all your questions, even if they seem silly (I promise, they’re not). You will learn a lot and actually enjoy the process when you feel comfortable and educated.

What questions did you find helpful asking? What considerations made your home purchasing process easier? What else do you want to know about new homes? Lets chat in the comments below!

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My evening routine

My evening routine

This post contains affiliate links. See affiliate disclaimer here.

Welcome to the third and final post of our routine series.

Post #1: Why and how routines + my favorite resources
Post #2: My morning routine

I love routines and it has been so helpful for me to break mine down. I’ve been able to take a closer look at what I include in my routine and why I’m doing each activity. I hope this series will encourage you to cultivate your own routines because I want you to live a life that is flourishing! Routines help make that happen.

daily routine quote

10 things that make up my ideal evening

I want to preface this with some honesty (honesty that you probably already know). I’m certainly not perfect and all of these things don’t get done every day. Sometimes I have a really busy evening planned and I’m only able to do a few. There are days I would rather get to sleep than put away the pile of dishes. This is just my ideal and I’m okay with letting it go when I need to.

Tidy up

I don’t like going to sleep with things out of order. I’ll do dishes that are in the sink, tidy up anything on the counters, and clean my space. This gives each day a totally fresh start.

Tie up loose ends

I do anything important that I didn’t get to earlier. Cross the t’s and dot the i’s so to say. This keeps things from lingering one day to the next.

Prepare food for the next day

This saves a huge amount of time in the morning. I eat from home most days, so it’s important I have food prepared. I’ll pack my lunch box and prepare my shake the night before so I have minimal things to do in the morning. No excuses for eating out. Unless I choose to 🙂

Lay out clothes for the next day

This is another major time saver! For some reason it’s about 170% faster to pick out an outfit the night before rather than the morning of. I check my planner and the weather to make a decision and make sure I have all needed outfits accounted for (work clothes, workout clothes, after work date clothes, etc).

Review planner & to dos

I just mentioned it, but this is crucial. Reviewing my planner helps me determine my clothes and food needs. It also give me a heads up on what time I need to be out the door and anything else I need to be prepared for. My Simplified Planner keeps me organized (if you’re new to Simplified, enjoy $10 off here — you’ll thank me later).

Unwind

Some days may require more unwinding than others. I try to listen to my self and give me what I need. That may be a bath, an episode on Netflix, or a face mask. I try to read every night to relax my mind and focus on something outside myself.

Put phone on airplane mode + charge

Put the phone to bed! Ideally outside the bedroom. This is also a great time to charge it so you’re ready to go tomorrow. I like airplane mode because then I’m not immediately sucked into any notifications I may have missed over night.

Beverages 

I always keep water on my bedside table to take my medicine at night and first thing in the morning. A new addition to my routine is Natural Calm. This is a magnesium supplement, called the anti-stress drink. It restores healthy magnesium levels and helps you sleep better at night. I put a tablespoon of the powder into a mug of warm water and enjoy, usually with my book of choice.

Skin care

Cleaning my face is like a little meditation for me. It washes off the day and triggers my mind for bedtime. I usually wash my face and remove my makeup right after I get home from my day, but I’ll do it before bed if I haven’t already. This part of my routine will never be skipped.

Dental care

Brush well, floss, mouthwash. I struggle with cavities no matter how well I brush, but I’m giving this a much bigger focus. One day I will be praised at my dentist appointment for my flossing.

Natural Calm and Water

Ideas for cultivating your evening routine

As I said for your morning routine, I would suggest you choose 3-5 items to be a part of your routine as you’re getting into the habit. You can always adjust this as needed. Your routine can be as long or short as you need to feel relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep. These are some additional ideas to help you create your own.

  • Meditate
  • Warm tea
  • Stretch
  • Light a candle
  • Yoga
  • Gratitude
  • Journal + brain dump
  • Set an alarm
  • Skin mask
  • Body scrub
  • Diffuse essential oil
  • Darken your room
  • Turn down temperature
  • Reflect on the day
  • Visualize tomorrow

Tips for cultivating your evening routine

Choose things that make you feel relaxed — Doing certain things (like showering at night) may wind you up. Be mindful of how you feeling after activities and do the ones that prepare you for a good night of sleep.

Calm your mind — At the end of the day, your body is likely tired, but your mind may still be racing. I know the nights I’m restless is usually due to anxiety about the next day or ruminating on something that happened the day of. It’s hard to control your mind, but you’ll learn ways to help ease it and create space.

Take things off your morning plate — There are things you can do at night that will actually make your morning more peaceful and enjoyable. Do those things! Remember, a productive day starts the night before.

You don’t need to do everything — An evening routine could be 30 items long, but that may not be beneficial. Don’t feel like you have to do every good thing. If you try, that’ll likely stress you out and be the opposite of relaxing. Do the things that make a difference for you and leave the rest. Maybe you incorporate others on occasion or regularly once you’re in a rhythm.

Your evening routine is YOURS! Do what works best for you. Some evenings you may have a lot of energy left and want to tackle extra things. Some evenings you’re so drained you can barely get through any of your routine and just need an early bedtime. Either way is okay. When you listen to your body and give it what it needs, you’ll be better tomorrow ❤

Are there things you do each evening to have the best night ever? I’ve love to read them in the comments below!

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My morning routine

My morning routine

This post contains affiliate links. See affiliate disclaimer here.

As I mentioned in the first post of this routine series, I love learning about people’s routines. I feel like you can learn a lot about someone by finding out what they do everyday. Plus, it always gives me good ideas for adjusting my own.

My routine didn’t happen overnight. It took time for me to figure things out and get into a flow. I’m usually guilty of trying to do too much. In the morning I generally don’t have a ton of time, so I had to be sure to focus on the things that would make the biggest impact. These had to be items that I would feel good about even if I got nothing else done that day.

I’m going to give you a glimpse into my morning routine and give you some ideas for creating your own. Take what resonates with you and leave the rest. And let go of the thought you have to get it right your first morning. This may take some time and that’s okay — you’ll learn along the way!

My usual morning practice

There are certain things I do each day that are mindless at this point. I wake up. I make the bed (if my husband isn’t still sleeping). I take my thyroid medication (this has to be taken on an empty stomach so I always keep water next to the bed and try to do this immediately). I go in the bathroom to do expected, brush my teeth, and wash my face. A workout is ideal in the morning, but sometimes it happens in the evening — I don’t stress it. I usually shower at night, but I’ll rinse off after a workout.

Things you can always find next to my bed: alarm clock, current read, diffuser, water bottle, encouragement

Now that I feel like an actual awake person, I can get into my routine.

My six

Each day looks a bit different as far as wake up time goes. Some days we have a sales meeting, some days I do a 6am Pure Barre class, some days I opt to sleep in because I don’t have anything planned for the morning. I know this isn’t encouraged by sleep experts, but this is how my current season looks. It’s working for now, but I’m always open to change for the better.

Although the time I’m getting started with my routine varies, the length of time and items involved are the same. My routine takes just over an hour and there are six activities outside of my usual morning practice.

  • Devotional
  • Spanish lesson
  • Meditation
  • Write the Word journal
  • Care for Stella
  • Water plants (if needed)

I have a “Routine + Activities” note in my phone where I can check off the items as I do them. I also have my ideal morning written down for different scenarios which helps me know when I should wake up and where my routine fits in. This helped make it a habit because it was an internal accountability tool. If for reason something didn’t get done in the morning, I could refer to my list and do it at a later time. My morning routine isn’t always perfect.

Ideas for cultivating your morning routine

I would suggest you choose 3-5 items to be a part of your routine as you’re getting into the habit. You can always adjust this as needed. Your routine can be as long or short as you need to feel centered and ready for the day ahead.

  • Shower
  • Stretch
  • Workout
  • Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea
  • Read the Bible
  • Pray
  • Meditate
  • Gratitude journal
  • Listen to your favorite music
  • Make a healthy breakfast
  • Take vitamins
  • Catch up on your favorite podcast
  • Go for a walk
  • Call a friend or family member
  • Read
  • Affirmations

This list is certainly not exhaustive — use it to inspire your own morning routine. Choose things that make you feel energized, joyful, prepared, and productive. If you’re needing extra encouragement to create a routine, I highly recommend the book The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. His philosophy is “if you win the morning, you win the day.” Lets win the day, yall!

Tips for cultivating your morning routine

Keep your phone out of arm’s reach — We are all guilty of using our phone as an alarm. Our phone sleeps right next to our bed and we half-awake snooze the alarm three times. Whoops, there goes a lot of the morning. Or we wake up, but spend thirty minutes scrolling. That’s not good either.

Use an actual alarm clock — This will eliminate that phone issue we just discussed. I use a fancy alarm clock I found on Amazon that actually acts like the sun rising and plays sound that gradually gets louder. A basic alarm clock works just fine too.

Include things in your routine that you’re excited about — We can’t always do what we want. Sometimes the things that are best for us aren’t our favorite. But you should look forward to your routine. At least parts of it! Exercise may not get you out of bed in the morning, but if you love your relaxing coffee time after, that’ll encourage you to push through!

Attach a new habit to an already existing habit — Cultivating a routine may feel clunky at first, but this tip will make it a lot smoother! Lets say coffee is definitely a part of your morning and you’re trying to get into the habit of taking your vitamins. Pair those habits together: set your vitamins out by your coffee maker. Your existing habit will trigger your new habit which is much easier.

Be mindful of your plan for the day — Your day will affect your routine. I check my Simplified Planner the night before so I’m aware of anything important coming up (an early meeting, a workout class, an appointment, etc). This affects when my morning routine needs to start and end. It may also affect my mindset during my routine. If I know I have a stressful meeting ahead, I may choose a guided meditation specific to overcoming that.

Your morning routine is YOURS! Do what works best for you. Own it, but be willing to adjust it if you need to. Some mornings you’ll feel unstoppable. Some mornings you’ll feel like everything is out of control. No matter what, each day is a new day ❤

Are there things you do each morning to set yourself up for the best day? I’ve love to read them in the comments below!

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Delighting in routine

Delighting in routine

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Routine is something I so badly wanted, but had the hardest time creating. This isn’t going to sound sexy or thrilling, but I knew a structured routine would help me accomplish my goals. Don’t get freaked out by the word structured. Structure is actually what allows freedom because you have the ability to create that structure. It can look however you want, however works best for you.

Are you back with me now??

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, but I had to be sure to get my own routine down. How could I encourage you if I wasn’t doing it?

It certainly has taken some time to create and cultivate, but I have found a routine that works really well for me in this season. Use this as a point of reference, a guide you could say. Your routine may be very similar to mine or it may look completely different — either way is totally okay! Base your routine on your personal goals and priorities.

This post is part 1 of 3. Right here I’m going to talk about the basics: why, how, and my favorite resources. Part 2 will be my morning routine. Part 3 will be my night routine. Are you excited or what!? I adore learning about people’s routines because it always gives me good ideas and ways to make mine better. So if you’re anything like me, you’re ready!

Why create a routine?

This is a very good question, especially if you’re the free-spirit kind of person. As I said earlier, your routine is yours, so it can look however best suits you. Free-spirit or planner, you will benefit from a routine.

I am a huge fan of being intentional. A routine is ultimate intentionality. By creating a routine, you are intentionally doing what matters most. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but the way you spend your time is the way you spend your life. A cultivated routine is taking control of your schedule so that you can accomplish whatever it is you’re after!

We are so busy in our daily lives. A routine means there’s one less decision you have to make. You have already determined how you’ll spend your morning and evening, so your brain has space to think about other things. Or even relax. It may feel clunky and unnatural at first, but eventually your routine will become a part of your rhythm.

I’m a creature of habit, so I thrive on routine. But even if you’re not like me, a routine is the best way to cultivate the life-giving habits you want. Exercise, meditation, connection, learning something new. These habits are formed by doing them daily. Consistency leads to progress.

How do I create routines?

This was the hardest part for me. I knew I wanted a routine and I had a general idea of the things I wanted to include, but how do I take that and create something? I’ve broken it down into three steps and a bonus step for good measure.

  1. Identify what’s important in the morning and evening — Begin by brainstorming activities. You don’t have to edit or narrow down just yet. Maybe consider activites based on different areas you’d like to grow in (faith, health, relationships, recreation, finances, etc). Choose the 3-5 for each routine time (morning and evening) that will make the biggest impact right now. Remember, you can always change and adjust.
  2. Dedicate time to those activities — How long will you spend on each activity? This is especially important in the mornings for me because I have to be at work by a certain time, so my routine must fit into that. Dedicate time to each activity and if in doubt, give a little extra so you’re not feeling rushed. An hour is ideal for me in the morning, so I made sure my activities would fit into that time block.
  3. Write it down — You are learning a new schedule, so you’ll likely need some reminders about what you’ve set out to do. Think of this as a check list for your ideal morning (or evening). You may not get it perfect every day, but you’ll be much better off with a gentle reminder and direction.

Bonus: Communicate with others about the part they play. This may be your family, your roommate, or a friend. Lets say you are working on growing in your friendships. You want a morning walk around the neighborhood to be a part of your routine, so be sure to communicate with your neighbor. See if they can commit and confirm a good time you both can make it happen. It would also be awesome to express why this is important to you.

My favorite resources for cultivating routine

  • Notes app in my phone: This is where I store my routine. I have a place to check off each activity as I do them, so I always know where I stand. I don’t do my routine in any particular order, it just depends on the day and how I’m feeling, so this is really helpful for me.
  • Simplified Planner: My planner is my lifeline. There’s just something about taking pen to paper. My Simplified Planner houses all my appointments, meetings, commitments which helps me know when my routine should get started and if any adjustments need to be made. For example, if I have a really early meeting, I may wake up even earlier or move some of my routine activities to later in the day. If you’re new to Simplified, you can get $10 off your order here! Thank me later ❤
  • PowerSheets: The progress I have made this year and last year have been possible because of this incredible goal planner. It serves as accountability and helps me identify what I want to cultivate. They are sold out for 2018, but the 2019 collection will launch October 24th. Promise me you’ll grab one and have your best year ever!

I’ll keep the encouragement short and sweet. Do your best. Give yourself grace. Be willing to adjust. Do you already have a routine? Will you be creating one? Lets chat in the comments.

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