Procrastinators Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from chronic procrastination.

Routines and Organising Time

I've found that routines have been really helpful to me in overcoming procrastination for two main reasons (this is sounding like an essay, never mind!):

1) I don't spend time 're-inventing the wheel' in that once I've figured out a good routine I don't have to think about it again (unless circumstances change, in which case I tweak it as I go along). Having to expend mental energy on piffling tasks was something I'd procrastinate about, and also provided a delay in which procrastination could set in.

2) I don't spend time during the rest of the day/week procrastinating on other things, by getting sidetracked into doing the things in the routines, because they're done at a set time of day/week.

(Hope that makes sense).

It took me a while to develop them to what they are now, but I just started with something basic, then kept tweaking until it worked like a dream. In the meantime, what I was doing was better than what I was doing (or not doing) before.

pro said: A couple years ago, I spent a long time trying to figure out all these various routines and organize my whole week. After spending days creating routines and schedules, I closed the files and never looked at them again - that is to say, never actually USED them.

How do you figure this out, with the right amount of routine and flexibility? What does your work day routine look like? What types of weekly routines do you have? I need help here, badly!

OK, so I only started with a few easy things. Like at the moment pro you're working on your Morning Routine, a basic Daily Routine, and a Bedtime Routine. You've got your basic list already, and you've already discovered some things work better in a different order. Well that's how ~I~ did it. Then when those basic routines became really easy and simple, I added another job to it. It took some time to evolve, which was a good thing because I was able to really consolidate it. In the past I'd done the same thing as you did before, and spent hours trying to create a perfect system, then never touched it. I had to begin with a Work In Progress mindset. It doesn't feel like a long time when you're doing it because it's all progress.

(What was the other question?)

Oh yes! Weekly routines - forget 'em until you've got the dailies down pat. You won't be any worse off than you are now, and if you take on too many new habits too soon they'll all go to pot.

As for flexibility, I have total flexibility. If I don't want to eat I don't (as if!), or if I don't want to excercise I don't. The thing is I allow the time for it, so it's a choice.

I'll post the actual routines separately, as examples.

I totally agree with you about routines!!

Developing routines that work has been crucial for me. Thanks for posting this. I'll go take a look at your sample routines now.

Keeping track of routines

I've got my routines written on cards that I keep in strategic drawers - one routine per card (I used to have them on a PDA which worked well, until it conked out). I've also got them on my Task List on Outlook with recurring reminders. The heading just says 'Morning Routine' and the notes section contains the actual routine.

I tried a Control Journal but it was a pain having to leave it in the open (clutter), and if I put it away - well, out of sight etc. (Putting things in plastic sleeves was quite a good idea, and I still have my 'detailed cleaning' lists for times when I want to do a deep clean - but after a while I found I didn't really need them any more).

I also tried the SHE system of cards in a box file, which I also found clumsy and cluttery, and I was overwhelmed by the number of cards. Just one card per routine suits me. I knew the ~concept~ of having routines would work for me though - it just took me a while to find the practical solution that would work for me. It's just a case of trial and error, so it's not worth putting ~too~ much effort into it until you've found out what works for you.

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I go electronic

No paper for me! I have enough little pieces of paper everywhere. I use Microsoft OneNote on my tablet PC to manage my routines.

Have you ever looked at OneNote? It's an incredible program. It works best with a tablet because you can write on pages with a pen, just like paper, but you don't need to have a tablet. You can type in pages, tool.

Before Bed Routine (Example)

This one started off as:

1) Get packed meals ready for tomorrow [which got moved to Daytime Routine as the BBR expanded - if it's too long I don't do it (learned by experience!)]
2) Brush teeth
3) Wash face
4) Get changed
5) Get clothes ready for tomorrow

I call this 'Before Bed' and not 'Bedtime' because if I leave it too late I tend to skip bits that I don't really want to skip (like cleaning my face, LOL!). If I'm watching a DVD in the evening, for example, I'll often do most of this first.

1) If we've had supper clean the dishes and put away
2) Laundry? (It's often dry and ready to be put away at this stage)
3) Hotspots downstairs
4) Are drinks set up for morning? (Triple check - so I like my morning drink!)
5) Shut dining room door (Fireman suggested this)
6) Check voicemail and put phone in bedroom (Fireman suggested this too)
7) Quick tidy upstairs - hotspots and desk (desk often gets neglected)
8) Check calendar and task list for tomorrow
9) Check clothes ready for tomorrow (I often get a whole week's worth ready at once, so this is often literally just a check)
10) Refresh Ddog's upstairs water bowl
11) Teeth; wash; nightclothes; incense
12) Put clothes away or in laundry bag
13) Go to SLEEP at a decent hour!
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Daytime Routine (Example)

My Daytime Routine used to look like this:

(i.e. non-existent when I first started routines).

Now it looks like this (some bit reiterate if I'm going to more than one job in a day):

1) Check transport (bike/car) ready for next day
2) Check/get work/yoga bags packed
3) Has Ddog been out? Has she had her dinner?
4) Have I had at least 1/2 hour exercise?
5) Ddog pooh patrol (i.e. poop scoop the back garden)
6) Have I had meal?
7) Can I/do I need to prep anything for meals tomorrow? This one was probably the most noticeable change - even DSO noticed the difference. If I'm going out I do packed meals the day before instead of rushing in the morning, and I like to have something either ready for lunch (or evening meal depending on when workday starts/ends) or quick and easy so it doesn't interrupt my workday
8) Are dishes done and kitchen cleaned up?
9) Check water by bed and in kettle, and drinks set up (in case I skipped it in the morning)
10) Prep clothes for tomorrow (inc bike/yoga)
11) Check calendar and task list for tomorrow (do I need to prep anything?)
12) What's the laundry doing? Move it on to next stage if appropriate.
13) Hotspots
14) 5 minute Desk Rescue
15) Check voicemail
16) Make phone calls
17) Check Email and clear out spam/check boards

This has to be very flexible - I tend to see it as a getting-ready-for-the-next-day/job sort of routine, though it's got mess up and clear up for a meal in there too. You'll have noticed I sometimes sneak on the board part way through. Built in flexibility see! ;)

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this is very helpful!

I like your daytime routine strategy. Instead of trying to schedule the time, you have a checklist of things you want to make sure to do each day (exercise, eat, etc.), and you make sure that all have happened before the day is out.

This is great - very helpful. I will make up a list like this. I've always found the "daytime routine" confusing because each day is so different, so how can there be a routine?

my preliminary daytime routine:

This is a check list of things that must happen at some point every day (not in any particular order):

  • Take pills before or during meals.
  • Wash dishes immediately after eating (no piling them up).
  • Open and handle mail (except Sundays, of course).
  • Check email at least once.
  • Clear spam folder.
  • Minimum of 30 minutes of exercise.
  • Go outside (have to spell this out because I work at home).
  • Face-to-face contact with other humans (see above - I have to make sure I do this or I start to get depressed and don't know why!)
  • One hour for me - free time where I do whatever I want, hopefully something fun.

I may add things as I think of them.

A good start

Some things you can add really quickly, because it's just so much easier doing it that way that it quickly turns into a habit (none of that waiting around for 21 days stuff!), some things take a little longer (I actually remembered my vits this morning without referring to my list, LOL!).

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Morning Routine (Example)

My original Morning Routine went something like this:

1) Go to the loo (!)
2) Get washed, brush teeth (British Dental Association say you shouldn't brush your teeth straight after breakfast, so the sensible thing to do would be to wait half an hour, but if I did that my teeth would never get brushed, so I've gone for before).
3) Get dressed
4) Do hair and makeup
5) Eat breakfast
6) Feed Ddog

Over time I added other things, like washing up and putting dishes away (I used to be bad about putting away), making the bed, etc, and now it looks like this:

(While I'm upstairs DSO is snoozing, or downstairs having breakfast and reading)
1) Make drinks [kettle next to bed, drinks already set up night before]; read if awake early
2) Loo, (Powerbreathe), incense
3) Brush and floss teeth, (shower), wash face, moisturiser
4) Quick clean bathroom
5) Wipe condensation off windows (winter)
6) Make bed (if DSO is out of it yet!)
7) Dress to shoes (Exercise/shower/change)
8) Hair and makeup
9) Check calendar, task list, daily plan, tickler
10) Check hotspots (i.e. tidy up); straighten cushions
11) Water: kettle/Ddog/Buddha/by bed
12) Check how much laundry is in the laundry bag, and if there's a load take it downstairs

1) Put the laundry on
2)Wipe condensation off windows (winter); straighten tablecloth and cushions [I tried doing this at night, but I was always too tired, or I messed it all up again, LOL!]
3) Breakfast and supplements
4) Feed and water Ddog
5) Dishes, clean sink and surfaces, mini-vac
6) Check downstairs hotspots
7) Check dinner and tea (already prepped day before, but just checking as a failsafe - it has come in handy sometimes!)
8) Dust if time (I rarely do this just because I don't like it)
9) Take post upstairs if it's arrived

If the laundry's finished I put it out to dry, if not it waits (I've got rinse hold) until the Daytime Routine.

It usually takes me 1.5 to 2 hours (depending on how many hotspots, condensation situation etc) but I can do a mini-MR in 30 - 60 mins if I take out the tidying and cleaning.

The house is ready for the day (I find it difficult to work in clutter), and I'm ready for work by 9.00 am. If I was starting payroll at 9.00 am (which I sometimes do) I would either have to get up earlier, or leave something out (I usually leave something out, LOL!).

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wait before brushing your teeth?

> British Dental Association say you shouldn't brush your teeth straight after breakfast, so the sensible thing to do would be to wait half an hour...

Why? Is that for all meals, or just breakfast? What is the reason?

I never heard this, and I can't imagine why it would be.

They've changed the website

They've changed the website and the new public info page doesn't have any content yet. The Dental Hygiene people say to brush twice a day:

The best advice is to brush your teeth twice a day – in the morning and at bedtime is convenient. You should use a soft-tufted brush. The right size brush is important as it should fit your mouth and allow you to reach all areas easily.

Place the tufts along the gumline at a 45 degree angle making sure that the brush touches both the tooth surface and the gums. You should spend 30 seconds brushing each of the four sections of your mouth – upper left and right and lower left and right making sure that the insides, outsides and biting surfaces of all teeth are all brushed, concentrating in the area where the tooth meets the gum.

And don’t forget to clean your tongue
- ideally using special tongue cleaner
– it will leave your mouth feeling really fresh.

Remember to replace your toothbrush every three to four months.

You may find it easier to use a modern electric toothbrush - just guide it around your mouth without putting much pressure on it.

Dentists recommend using a toothpaste containing fluoride which helps protect your teeth from decay. A pea sized amount of toothpaste on your brush is quite sufficient.


This one doesn't say whether 'in the morning' is before or after breakfast (possibly because it's controversial). The reason, as far as I recall, is that sugars and acids in food, particularly citrus foods (and I often have orange at breakfast) work on the enamel and make it more vulnerable to abrasion by brushing - so the brushing can cause more erosion. This is also the reason why they say to brush twice a day - I know some people brush more, but if you've not been blessed with thick enamel you may not be doing yourself any favours.

(Tongue scraping, by the way, is an ancient yogic cleansing practice!).

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