Building routines and habits can be difficult. Just when we think we’re settled on a routine, life throws unexpected challenges; it’s not easy to always maintain a regular schedule. For me, I always begin thinking about how I spend my time in spans of years and quarters, and then work my way down to the daily routines. By doing so, I align my schedule to my priorities at that particular moment.
My current top priority is my daughters. I’m now at a stage where the goal is to work as efficiently as possible, and spend as much time as I can with my children. In the hopes of helping people who are trying to set up a routine that sparks joy, below I share five key elements that keep me productive while balancing personal life and work, and of course, spark joy.
I usually wake up around 6 a.m. with my daughters. When I get up, I open all the windows to let fresh air in, then burn incense to cleanse the air. I strive to keep my home comfortable and filled with clear energy throughout the day, so starting off the day this way sets me on track. Next, I give a little prayer to thank my family and team members’ health, and renew my resolve to do as much as I can that day.
Routines Before Work – Getting Dressed and Writing To-do Lists
Before I begin my work day, I get dressed, even if I am working from home that day. Getting into work clothes sets me up to be productive. As for picking out what to wear, I usually rely on my instincts. I am a tidying consultant with an organized closet, but not a professional when it comes to fashion coordination. I sometimes take quite a while picking out an outfit, before settling on one!
Once at my desk, I make it a rule to write out my tasks for the day. I put down everything on this list, from folding the laundry to answering emails. When I’m done with a task, I put a checkmark beside it. Seeing the checkmarks at the end of the day creates a sense of accomplishment.
Coordinating with My Husband
Sharing and discussing our to-do lists with my husband have been vital to being effective and productive as a couple. Here is a tip you can try today, especially if you have a partner at home: when we got married, my husband and I wrote out every household chore and put it in a shared spreadsheet. When one of us finished a task, we would put a “◎” next to it, and when the other person noticed it, we would send a simple “thank you” message. This process helped us realize the number of tasks necessary to live comfortably together, and what kinds of tasks are better suited for which one of us. My husband loves to cook, and I like to clean and tidy. Other things fell into place naturally. It was so helpful that we had finished this process before having children. We don’t share a spreadsheet for household chores anymore now that we have established a rhythm, but we do share our work schedules.
Clearing My Mind
When I need to sort out my thoughts, I write out everything on my mind on a blank sheet of paper. I try to figure out any tangled feelings or reasons for worry or anxiety, think of a solution, then write down an action plan on my calendar. I make sure to clarify what issues I can and cannot control. For example, I used to get slightly upset when my children woke up during work hours, but now I understand this is out of my hands. Just clarifying what is out of my control helps me calm down. Otherwise, when I am burnt out and need to rewind, I forget everything and wipe the floor. Keeping my hands busy helps my mind calm down.
My nighttime routines are built around the priority of spending quality time with my children. After wrapping up my work around 6 p.m., I eat dinner at home with my family, or sometimes invite friends over. Before putting my kids to bed, I make it a daily routine to read aloud picture books to them. Once they are asleep, I change the water in the flower vases and put things in the house back in its place. This process is very smooth as every item already has a home, so I can usually do this within 10 minutes. As I put my things back in their place, I thank them for their hard work for the day. Before going to bed, I spray natural aroma oils – my favorites are lavender or Japanese wood – in my bedroom.
Beneath the various routines I have shared above is the simple key of prioritizing what sparks joy. Having this philosophy at the center of everything I do helps me focus on what I value. If you are struggling to figure out what sparks joy for you, my first advice is to tidy your home! Once you are done thoroughly tidying up, you will find it easy to keep your office, home, and your mental space, clear and focused. By being surrounded only by the things that spark joy, your life naturally begins to regain its clarity.