I don’t know if you know this, but life changes a lot. From the fact that each season brings new times of the day that are best for certain activities to our very lives having ups and down and all arounds.
We’ve had a tough time over here dealing with all of the changes life brings. We’ve been making a lot of changes and have had a lot of transitions and it feels like every little change makes us feel like we have to start all over again. Once we make a rhythm, it’s as if one late night can mess up the whole system. It’s infuriating. We’ve tried blaming so many external things, but the reality is that we are asking for something that is not possible.
We are asking for everyday to look the same. We’re asking for excitement. We’re asking for things to be easy and life is anything but easy.
So we are learning how to create peace and order within the chaos that is children and work and life. We have taken a look at all the things we were trying to do that just weren’t working. It’s been a long road of trying to manage our time and I feel like we’ve just gotten to the beginning.
WHY WE NEED CONSISTENCY
In short, our bodies crave consistency. It’s better for sleep, better for digestion, and simply better for the mind.
Our minds are certainly powerful, but we will never be able to think ourselves out of being human.
We naturally crave rhythm in our lives. Just as much as we rely and expect the sun to come up every morning, our bodies rely on us to sleep and eat at predictable times. There may be shifts in theses rhythms, but they must have a natural flow.
Our brain releases different chemicals at different times of day based on what it expects we will need at that time. If our brain has to guess, we’ll wind up being tired and awake at the wrong times of day which will ultimately leave us unmotivated.
Our digestion works better with consistency. When our stomachs can’t rely on when we’ll ingest food, they get stressed. They wonder when our next meal will come from which leads them to digest slower and less effectively. Of course, they don’t have a mind of their own, but our stomachs still benefit from a flow. You will digest better and more efficiently if you’re not sending stress to your stomach through inconsistent meal times.
Our minds work better when you know what is happening next. There’s less anxiety from having to decide what is best to do next, you just know it. You are able to work better at the task at hand because you’re in the flow of putting energy into it. Your time is predictable and as mundane as that can sound, it’s a pretty big relief to know what’s happening next.
We’ve learned these lessons the hard way recently. I’ve felt drained from the lack of sleep and inconsistencies we’ve been putting on ourselves. I’ve been keeping on weight I normally wouldn’t with our crazy eating habits. I’ve been nit-picky and frustrated more than I really need to be because I’ve been overwhelmed trying to keep track everything we want and need to do in a day.
All of this is because we’ve been a wildly inconsistent and it’s created chaos in our lives, our kids lives, and our home. Which of course creates even more chaos. And no matter how hard we’ve tried, any attempt to get some amount of consistency in our home has failed time and time again.
WHAT CHAOS HAS TAUGHT ME ABOUT CONSISTENCY
So yes, we’ve stepped back. We’ve evaluated why we can’t maintain our lives the way we want to and feel we should.
Obviously, we have a baby and a toddler which can make consistency feel impossible, but they go along with what we do. They make it a little harder to stay consistent, but not impossible. We also have a changing work schedule to work around, but again, it’s something we SHOULD be able to work with if we’re willing to try.
Even with these factors, the main reason we have stayed in chaos is 100% because of our priorities and focus. We’ve been all over the place and we’ve finally realized what we’ve been doing wrong.
REST CAN BE A BAD HABIT | Please don’t just read the headline on this one!!!
Rest is so important. I LOVE rest and I value it maybe more than I should. It is an incredible thing to indulge in and there are many experts that think we don’t rest enough here in the states. For some of us, however, rest can become a habit that holds us back. It can become a comfort zone that is hard to step out of.
When life gets crazy and you feel like you’re in too deep, it can be easy to protect your down time and indulge heavily in turning off your brain and seeking comfort. It’s something that is great to engage in for a bit, but ultimately can become dangerous to indulge in during every free moment you find.
One night of TV binging and junk food can turn into binging every night. Every night can turn into a few moments through the day, and so on.
Eventually you may find yourself right where I am: too much ambition, not enough motivation, and not nearly enough time.
I, personally, have let my craving for comfort actually take away from the things that bring me most joy. Ironically, this has made me much less comfortable. It’s the kind of discomfort that no amount of TV and ice cream can solve. Truly, reading a book, doing yoga, writing, etc. are all things that can both rejuvenate me and calm me down.
Of course, rest and mind-numbing activities can still have a valuable place in life. But it is very important to never let rest become your bad habit.
FOCUS LESS ON ACTIVITIES AND MORE ON TIME FRAMES | What I mean is, we focus on the fact that we need to wake up, get ready, eat breakfast, etc. But we never focused on when it’s best for that to happen. We’d just haphazardly wake up and start. Then, we’d talk about what we wanted to do that day and fumble around trying to fit it all in when it felt right.
So our new focus is time. What time does it make sense to wake up? How long does it make sense to get ready? When is the best time to eat breakfast? These are the questions we’ve started asking.
From there, we can figure out different time blocks. Like after breakfast, we can have free time for an hour. The activity in the time block can change, but the time it happens will stay the same.
We may have a few activities that happen daily, and those are the ones we can work around as long as we know what time the changing activities can fit in.
So focusing on time blocking rather than activity planning is a must in order to maintain consistency. It’s all about the timing rather than the planning.
OVER-PLANNING CAN KILL MOTIVATION | We are very susceptible to seasons. Sometimes we go through a phase where we have no motivation for anything and other times all we want to do is work. It’s hard to create balance and I’ve noticed that it burns us out faster than it should.
When we reach a season of motivation, we tend to over-load our schedule. We’ll put 3 or 4 big tasks into our plan for the day and when we only manage to get one thing done, we’re left discouraged, guilty, and unmotivated.
This is why I believe in time frames over specific task planning. I think it’s important to know everything you NEED to do in a day and how much free time you really have. Then, really think about how much time a big task is going to take and don’t feel like you need to load up your day with productive tasks. While rest shouldn’t fill your whole day, it does need to claim some part of it.
Along with all the other things that typically need to happen in a day, it’s important to be realistic about how much time you have and to learn to be okay with tackling projects slowly. Otherwise, you may run out of steam before you reach the end.
WE NEED TO GO TO BED/WAKE UP AT THE SAME TIME EVERYDAY | Consistency in your sleep is truly a make or break for any day/schedule. Like I said before, if you wake up and go to bed at the same time everyday your brain will release the chemicals needed to sleep more soundly and be more alert throughout the day. As a bonus, having early bed and wake times is even better. Working WITH the sun rather than against it can only be to your benefit.
Without getting too hung up on times, as long as you have consistency you will be better off.
Though I can definitely say that my most productive days are the ones I start early, I think early can be relative. Like, with kids, early is probably earlier than you’d prefer early to be. Without kids, early can be a little more reliant on what you have going on that day.
Either way, I would say a good rule to follow is to give yourself 2 hours between the time you wake up and the time you need to start your day.
At least that’s what seems to work for me. 2 hours to wake up, get ready, drink some water, do some stretches, do some journaling, think about your day, etc. Whatever it is that really helps you to get focused and motivated for the day. I think two hours may seem luxurious, but it is possible if you’re willing to work for it.
The number one time block we are going to start with when creating our routine is our sleep. How much of it we need, when we want to be up for the day, and what time we’ll need to go to sleep to make that happen.
THERE’S NEVER A “RIGHT TIME” | “When the baby sleeps through the night, we’ll start.” “When work settles down, we’ll start.” “When life falls into place, we’ll start.”
But here’s the thing, life has already started. It is currently happening and it’s going to keep happening as long as we are here on this earth. It’s not something that will start “when…” It is something that has been happening since the day we were born.
There is no real right time to start anything. There are always reasons to not start something, but, if you look for them, there are always reasons to start something RIGHT NOW.
So we’re not waiting for a convenient time, we’re just going to have to start now.
It will be hard. It will feel impossible some days. We won’t be in the mood others. But anything we’re passionate about needs time and time comes from making the most of what you currently have. So if there were ever a “right time,” it’s always going to be now.
It’s been brutal, if I’m being honest. The inconsistency has ripped peace right from our home and it’s effected all of us greatly. We’ve been too willing to let go of stability for the sake of comfort, only to find that effort and stability is what would really bring peace all along.
Inconsistency has caused conflict with all of us together and within ourselves so I’m looking forward to taking these tough lessons we’ve learned and putting them to the test.