How To Create A Routine And Actually Stick To It

I think the last time I really had a solid daily routine that I actually stuck to was sometime sophomore year. Junior year got a bit crazy and I tried to hang onto my rituals of going to the gym, making morning smoothies, and doing face masks—sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding. Then fall semester senior year was the absolute worst because everything just fell apart and I could hardly uphold any routine for more than a week.

If you’re like me and need a solid daily routine to reach your goals and actually feel like you’re accomplishing things, then it can feel overwhelming when you break part of your routine or don’t do it at all. I always feel like I’ve set myself back and I’m now even further from my goals.

Since the semester ended and I’ve been home for two weeks, I’ve had some time to chillax (a.k.a. sit on my bum and watch Impractical Jokers all day). I also have a few fitness and reading goals I’d like to reach before the spring semester starts, and, personally, when I haven’t been doing much it can be easy for me to get stuck in a lazy mindset. Then, I literally never get anything done! So, I created a little routine for myself, and I’ve actually been good about sticking to it after such a long time.

So, I decided to create a post that will help you stick to any routine you’re trying to nail. Whether you need a routine to keep you organized and on track, or you want to avoid getting lazy, read on!

1. Create a routine that’s realistic. 

Reading three books and exercising for five hours everyday sounds awesome, but do you think you’ll actually have time to do all that? Starting off small is definitely something to keep in mind when creating a realistic routine. There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious and pushing yourself, but if you try to make a routine that only a superhuman can conquer and you don’t get things right the first time, you may feel very discouraged.

One of my biggest goals for winter break, and for 2018, is to exercise more and get more toned. I know damn well that I wouldn’t leave my house in -20 degree weather to go to the gym, so adding an 8a.m. gym workout to my routine is not doable at all for me right now. Maybe down the line when I really get into things, but certainly not now. So, I’ve been checking out some online exercise circuits that give me both cardio and strength training. So everyday, I can take just 30 minutes to workout with dumbbells, do some squats, and other activities all while I watch TV, and it’s actually very fun.

2. Write it down. 

I always feel like things are more official and more organized for me when I write them down, so if you’re the same way, this can definitely help. And, you can really go crazy with it, too. If you love designing things, hop on Photoshop or Canva and create your very own super pretty, super colorful schedule with your routine in it. You can print it out and hang it on your wall, in your dorm room, or glue it to the front page of your planner so you’ll always see it. Plus, things always look more enticing to do when they’re colorful, so you may actually get excited to get things started. You can also look into habit journals and routine trackers as an alternative.

3. Wake up early. 

I am, by no means, a morning person—I actually hate getting up and being woken up at the ass crack of dawn, especially during the winter when I just want to hide under the covers all day. But I always feel more accomplished when I wake up early. There were so many times this semester when I wanted to go to the gym in the morning, do some yoga, shower, get dressed up all nice, and hit Starbucks so I can do work the rest of the day, but as soon as I found myself waking up at noon, I started feeling like there was NO TIME for the gym and all that other stuff, and I immediately just wanted to get dressed and get out of the room so I could work. That was certainly responsible for many destroyed attempts at a solid routine.

Remember when I said sophomore year was probably the last time I actually stuck to a badass routine? Yeah, it was because I actually woke up early to get things done. In the time between 8a.m. and noon when my friends and people I lived with were fast asleep, I’d be up working out, visiting my advisers, running my errands, having breakfast, and studying, and it felt fantastic. Speaking of early, check out my post on How To Prepare For Morning Classes for tips on feeling energized for those 8a.m.’s!

Of course, if you’re going to wake up early, it should be understood that you need to go to bed early, too, and you can do that by creating a nighttime routine for yourself that works. Maybe you need to stretch a little before bed, or maybe before you turn in for the night is your perfect time for going through your skincare routine. I love reading a little before I go to bed, so I always do that until I get tired.

4. Set reminders for yourself. 

Use your phone, or your calendar, or your planner. And if there’s an app that you swear keeps your head on your shoulders, use that, too (P.S., I also have a post on the Best Totally Free Apps For College Students, so be sure to check that out!). Creating little reminders is definitely helpful when you’re just first starting out, but once you really get the hang of things, your routine becomes second nature and you may not even need phone reminders anymore.

5. Create a routine with a buddy. 

Getting a friend to join you in your quest for, well, whatever you hope to gain by doing a routine, makes things way more fun. Having someone by your side to push you along is really encouraging, and you feel like you’re making progress with someone.

I love having my friends by my side, but there are some things that I think I perform better at when I’m alone—like yoga or working out. I just feel like I can go at my own pace and I don’t have to feel obligated to try a different machine because my friend wants to try a different machine, or leave early because my friend wants to leave early. Try it out and see what activities you enjoy doing with friends and what activities you may have to fly solo on.

Read also: How To Balance School, A Job + A Social Life In College

6. Remind yourself of your goals. 

Always remind yourself why you’re putting yourself through the trouble of waking up at 6a.m. to start your routine. Is it because you feel more productive? Do you want to feel like you have better control over something? Do you have things to do that won’t get done unless you make a schedule for doing them? No matter what your reason is, remind yourself that everyday you’re taking steps toward achieving that goal. Keep a positive attitude, and you’ll get there!

What are your tips for sticking to a routine?