In Week 1 of our Simplify Your Life Challenge, we looked at our commitments and started to simplify them. Don’t worry if you’re not done with this part yet — just keep at it a little at a time for the rest of this month.

This week, the instruction for Week 2 is: Simplify your routine. Create a simple morning routine, keeping yourself from overloading yourself, and leaving space in your day for not being busy.

So we’ll look at our routine, and see how it can be simplified. A few key principles will help guide us:

  1. Identify the essential and eliminate some of the rest.
  2. Group things together, doing them in batches, to avoid doing them all day long.
  3. This allows us to create space for the essential.
  4. We should also leave space for nothing. Don’t cram your schedule full. Appreciate the spaces that are left.
  5. Finally, we need to be flexible. Having a rigid routine rarely works for anyone, and is fragile — when things change, what happens to the rigid routine?

Let these principles guide you this week — keep coming back to them.

Start with a Morning Routine

If we do nothing else this week, let’s craft a simple morning routine, and practice it during the week.

Let’s let it be simple, not packed full. Let’s let it be flexible, not rigid. And let’s leave some spaces.

Take 2 days to work on this, and then put it into action!

  1. What are the essential things you’d like to do in the morning? Put the things that are most important to you here: meditation, writing, exercise, Most Important Tasks, etc. But narrow it down to 3-4 things if you can.
  2. What non-essential things do you normally do in the morning? Make a list — do you normally check social media, read news, go through your messages and email? Can you move some of these non-essential out of your morning routine and into another part of your day, like the afternoon? Or eliminate them?
  3. Craft a simple routine from the essentials in Step 1. For example, if you normally wake at 7am (don’t try to wake up earlier just yet), you might have:
    • 7am meditate
    • 7:30 write (1st Most Important Task)
    • 9am exercise
    • 10:30 2nd Most Important Task
    • 11:30 breakfast

Leave space between them, don’t cram everything together. Obviously, this is just an example — figure out what feels right for you.

Now test it out for the rest of the week! Leave yourself open for adjusting this if it’s not quite right. Also, as you test out, notice if there are other things you’re doing and pushing these items back.

Look at Your Afternoons Too

After you’ve spent a day or two crafting a simple morning routine, consider your afternoons.

Now, I don’t recommend having a rigid afternoon routine — leave space here for flexibility. But maybe you have 2-3 things that you’d like to do every afternoon, not tied to a specific time.

For example:

Again, these don’t have to be tied to a specific time, and you should be able to be flexible with them if other urgent tasks, calls or meetings come up (for example). The idea isn’t to be perfect with this routine, but to be thoughtful about how we’d like to spend our time.

Leave space in this afternoon time. Let it be mostly clear.

And once more, experiment with this kind of scheme, to find what works for you and to see what might be getting in the way.

Finally, Craft an Evening Routine

Now spend the next day or two considering your evenings.

While afternoons might be a time for flexibility and space, evenings are perfect for reflection and slowing down.

You might leave space for unwinding, reading, spending time with family, or doing nothing.

At the end of the evening, though, you might anchor the ending of your day with a simple routine. For example:

You might have fewer items than this example. And don’t let this be rigid — try to do it most nights, but if something else gets in the way, don’t sweat it.

So that’s the plan for this week — spend a day or two on all three parts of your day, and test out these flexible ideas in real life, adjusting and learning as you go.