Systems Check! Is A Lack of Routines Leaving You Overwhelmed?

Late last year I was chosen to participate in the launch of the new book, Overwhelmed, by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory, at the time I thought it would be a great tool for me to use with my clients who are often times, stressed out moms surviving on caffeine and chocolate way more often than they should be.  Since I've read from these ladies before I knew the book would be full of practical tips for how to tackle life's toughest challenges.  As I expected, it delivered perfectly. 

What I didn't expect was that as I went through the book, doing the self-assessments and reading stories of other overwhelmed women, that I would realize that I too, was overwhelmed.  The ladies show very nicely how that feeling of chaos combined with not quite good enough looks differently on different people.  For me, it presents itself in anything from avoiding activities to being more short tempered with my family.

So, with the help of tools presented in Overwhelmed, I set out to make some adjustments to my own life and the first thing I decided to tackle is the routines and systems in my household. 

I'm a huge fan of processes, both personally and professionally, but every so often I find that life changes and I have to make adjustments to business as usual.  In your business this might mean adding a virtual assistant to handle some of the busy work, at home it might mean it's time to add a prep day to your weekly routine.  Routines give you both stability and freedom.  And without them functioning properly, you can feel a unique blend of frazzled and confined.  We are not designed to live in reaction mode, so systems and routines let us be prepared. 

This year, as our family prepares to welcome a new grandbaby and my business continues to grow with me beginning more travel for speaking engagements, I know that my routines need some tweaking to still be effective. I was drawn to Kathi's description of her workweek as I have seen how ineffective time management costs me in more ways than one.  I'm currently in the process of figuring out where my new sweet spot is, and I'll be sharing on my Facebook and Twitter pages how things are going.  Here's 3 reasons why I think you should do a check of your systems too.

Routines help you be more productive. Who has time to waste? Not me. Without a good grocery list or household maintenance system I've been known to work all day, be exhausted and feel like I've gotten nothing done at the end of the day.  When I plan out my time I just get more done. Period.

Case in point, one of my contracts takes me out of my office and into the community.  I go from place to place meeting with families.  There was a time when I simply scheduled families whenever they wanted within my open hours.  What I found was by constantly interrupting my time, I never got fully situated in my other activities because I was so distracted.  Now, I schedule my community based appointments between two days and my writing time is condensed into one.  That way I can be fully attentive to each of my events and save travel time by going from one appointment to the next.  Since driving is one of my least favorite things to do, I also conserve energy and money getting it done in less days.

Routines solve decision fatigue. Researchers believe we may make thousands of decisions per day and there are times when I'm so worn out from the simple decisions like which road to take or whats for dinner that the big ones like where to go for vacation or what insurance coverage should we pick just overload my circuits.  By pre-deciding things like what days you do the laundry and what your morning routine is, you save yourself having to figure it out on the fly.  Which typically also leads to better decisions too.

Routines identify small problems before they become big ones. Here's the bottom line we are what we do consistently, and routines help you be consistent at the things that really matter.  If you have dinner together each night, for example,  it will be easier for you to notice that your teenager isn't eating.  If you're eating on the fly, it could be weeks before you know that something is going on.  Families can be a natural breeding ground for chaos, but what we do to control it is the difference between success and failure.

If I've got you thinking, now is a good time to check out a few of these YouTube mommas who seem to have some pretty good routines to get your wheels turning.  Since I didn't see as many of these videos as I thought I would while I was writing this, once I've got the kinks worked out of my own revamped routines, I'll be making a video of my own to share too.

In the meanwhile, let me know how your routines help you keep it all together.