How I Structure My Day (Imperfectly)

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

The world we live in is quite rhythmic. There are many cycles and patterns. There is order and there are systems. The rhythm is by design. The Designer has built beautiful rhythms into everything He created. 

We would do well to line ourselves up within them. To resist is futile peon! Ha! 

Well there are varying personalities also. And as I write this, I am aware that I tend to be more systematic than my spontaneous wife. I have this wonderful voice inside my head whenever I envision a new pattern or attempt to add structure to my life that says, “Well what about freedom?!” For my wife, too much structure equates to prison. And I get that.

But hear me out. To resist the designs, rhythms and patterns of life is not imprisoning, it is freeing. Habits are discipline that train character. It frees up our time so we are not constantly thinking about what we should do next. It frees up our decision-making capacity when we get locked in to a groove we already know well. It improves our skills and helps us specialize as we begin to master our patterns.

So while I understand different people may approach their day in different ways, I humbly offer what I have come up with at this point in my life as imperfectly as it will always be. I know that as soon as I write out this list, there are many counters in my mind that says, “Well you don’t always do it that way,” or,“You’ll never master that one,” or, “You never eat that well all the time,” etc. Yet, I press on and seek to live the best way I know how within the limits of the world God designed and the limits of my own body and abilities.

And of course everything changes with the seasons, back to school or, you know, viruses!

The following is the short form of my typical workday including before and after. And below that are some descriptions.

Morning

  1. Arise between 6:00 and 7:00am
  2. Morning routine (see below)
  3. Work-start routine (see below)
  4. Write or plan (see below)
  5. Protein snack break around 10/10:30am
  6. Urgent tasks

Afternoon

  1. Lunch (protein and veggies) around noon
  2. Projects, connections
  3. Protein snack break around 3
  4. Projects, connections, tasks

Evening

  1. Family connection
  2. Family dinner
  3. Any evening work (ie. Meeting, continued projects, etc.)
  4. Free time
  5. Bedtime routine (see below)

Here are some expanded details. I make allowances for interruptions such as poor sleep, added appointments, or, you know…life!

Morning Routine

My morning routine matters a lot to me. It helps me start energized and makes sure I connect with what’s most important in my life: My LORD and my family and my health. It takes about 75 minutes. My current morning routine goes like this:

  1. Put on exercise clothes
  2. Fill a tall glass of water
  3. Workout 1st thing for about 20-30 minutes or more if possible (such as extended cardio)
    • I simply use bodyweight exercises from YouTube, some resistance bands, walking, my bike
  4. Family huddle (summer is hit and miss)
    • This is a time to connect as a family, share wisdom and pray.
  5. Protein breakfast with supplements
  6. Personal devotions, meditation, prayer
  7. Shower

Work-Start Routine

Starting work has always been challenging for me. My career is not so obvious as to what tasks I should do next, besides “Sunday is a comin’!”. So this morning routine gives me something to kick start my brain into gear and helps me tune into what’s needed. This should only take about 10-15 minutes. So here’s what my current work-start routine looks like.

  1. Start up some energizing music (movie soundtracks or my energizing playlist)
  2. Fill a tall glass of water
  3. Review and update priority lists with prayer
  4. Decide on fun work to start with such as dreaming, creative writing, reading, research, Bible study, lesson/curriculum planning, design, connections

Writing

This is a somewhat newly formed part of my day. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with writing. While I always find time to write in various ways, including this in my morning is a strong move for me I think. It allows me to get my creative juices flowing, my worries scratched out or specific plans carved out. I set aside 30 minutes or a goal of 500 words and sometimes I get on a roll and keep going if needed. Here are the tools I have readily available:

  1. Pen and notebook devoted to creative writing
  2. Pen and notebook devoted to work tasks, meetings and random thoughts
  3. Scrivener! 
    • Scrivener is a fantastic paid app for writing, but any word processor will do.
    • Daily writing environment
      • I found the idea here
      • For me, I simply have a Journals folder, Creative Communication folder and Other folder. Journals is for struggles, successes, worries and quiet time reflections. My Creative Communication folder includes places for stories, training and practice. Other is anything that doesn’t fit, such as a large report or personal growth goals.
    • I use Scrivener for lesson plans, sermons, mini-curriculum, workshops and other larger projects.
    • I just discovered Scrivener has automatic tracking for daily session goals! 
  4. Apple Notes app for short scripts or random thoughts
  5. A list of what to write, when I don’t know what to write. For me it includes:
    • Scripts, volunteer training, journalling, short stories, Family Rhythm/parenting, lesson/workshop planning, dreaming, special emails or connection messages, book or meditation responses, research or writing books for prompts.

Breaks

Snack, stretch, news, walk, read, physical activity for blood flow, etc.

Bedtime Routine

This routine varies for me as every evening can look a little different. And sometimes I pick and choose. It takes between 30-60 minutes. But here’s a guideline I use:

  1. Worry journal/habit tracker (no later than one hour before bed)
    • This is a brief time to review my day, get any anxiety off my chest and record personal growth accomplishments
    • I use the Moody and Done apps
  2. Unwind and destress
    • Watch something, play something, design or dream about something (like a vision for the future using Canva!), divert attention from anxious thinking, time with family
  3. Brush teeth, supplements if forgotten
  4. Breathing, prayer, worship and/or meditation
    • I sometimes use the Tide app for simple breathing
    • I created a calm instrumental/meditational music playlist
  5. Set out exercise clothes for the morning (no excuses!)
  6. Set out clothes for the next day
  7. Lie in bed on stomach (to stretch back from too much sitting)
  8. Light reading

I hope this spurs you on toward more love and more good deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25) for you as you lead in life and with your family!

What does your typical workday look like? What are some daily routines, habits and structures you can’t do without? Does this post raise any questions or stimulate any ideas for your own daily habits?

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