Creating New Routines (Part 1)

One of my goals for 2020 is: Create purposeful monthly, weekly, and daily routines. I've noticed that I thrive when I have clear expectations/deadlines in place. When I look back at school and work (or even my most active blogging years), I always had system in place to keep me organized and on track. Lately, I haven't felt as productive. I'm often playing catch up – making a grocery list at the last minute, procrastinating on cleaning, and talking about things I "need to do" at some point. Some have been on my list since my oldest was born almost four years ago!

And it's not like I haven't had the time. As my mom always says, "If you wanted to do it, you'd do it." Because we really do make the time for the things that are important to us, no matter how trivial or how time consuming! I've talked about this before when I discussed finding time to read as a new mom. As I looked at what worked and didn't work from last year, I couldn't ignore the proof that I needed more routine in my life. I know based on my personality and past experience that it will make me more peaceful. I waste too much mental energy when I'm overwhelmed. And I'm sometimes I'm guilty of procrastinating by being productive at something less important.

With a baby due this month, I'm aware that this was a slightly ambitious goal to set for 2020. Life with a newborn doesn't lend itself to predictability. But even a little bit of progress here would make a meaningful difference!

For January, I gave myself two routine-related goals. One was to brainstorm possible routines that I'd like to implement, which I'm going to chat about today (and in tomorrow's post, too). I don't know if it was the new year or nesting, but I got so much more done here than I expected! Before I could implement new routines, I had to figure out what I wanted to do on a regular basis. I decided to start with household chores: meal planning, grocery shopping, cleaning, and laundry. So, here's what I made for myself:

First, I looked at cleaning schedules on Pinterest, listened to a few related podcast episodes, and thought about what made the most sense for me. I wrote out a cleaning schedule, put it into practice, made adjustments based on what I learned, and then laminated my chart and put it on the fridge. Seeing it has been so motivating! There are many ways to break this down, but here's where I ended up. Every day, I want to do four things:

1. Make the beds. It just gets the day off to the right start!
2. 15-minute tidy – just a quick pick up at the end of the day.
3. Dishes, essentially empty/load the dishwasher and don't leave anything in the sink.
4. Counters – wiping down the kitchen counters every night.

And then I gave every day two additional tasks:

Sunday: 1) Meal plan for the week, and 2) take out the trash, which is picked up on Mondays.
Monday: 1) Grocery shop, and 2) do laundry.
Tuesday: On our first floor, 1) dust and 2) vacuum.
Wednesday: 1) Clean the kitchen, and 2) clean the downstairs bathroom.
Thursday: On the second floor, 1) dust and 2) vacuum.
Friday: 1) Clean the bathrooms upstairs, and 2) wash all towels.
Saturday: 1) One monthly task, and 2) two bi-weekly tasks.

As you can see, Saturdays are a little bit different. There are four cleaning tasks that I just plan to do once a month: 1) dusting the baseboards, 2) dusting windowsills and cleaning dirty windows (usually handprints in one or two specific rooms), 3) dusting lights and vents, and 4) wiping down the kitchen cabinets. If you're looking at my chart, each task has a number following it that represents what week I'll do it (1 = first week of the month, etc.).

And there are four tasks that I'm doing every other week. On the first and third week of the month, I'm 1) mopping the hardwood floors and 2) disinfecting door handles/remotes (or anything else that's frequently touched). On the second and fourth weeks, I'm 3) washing the sheets and 4) doing a quick car clean (toss any trash, vacuum any spilled snacks, and so on). Yes, I know some months have five weeks – but you get the idea!

While I was at it, I thought about some other tasks that are recurring but less frequent. Quarterly, I'd like to aim to clean my major household appliances: washer & dryer, dishwasher, microwave & oven, and the fridge & freezer. On my chart, the number corresponds to the month I'm aiming to do each one in. For example, cleaning the washer and dryer in January (1), May (5), and September (9). This section may change with time because it's the one I haven't tested yet. But I liked having an overall starting point and seeing how it goes.

Yearly, we need to remember to change 1) the air filter, 2) the fridge filter, and 3) the smoke detector batteries. Also, we typically 4) pressure wash the driveway. And, as a note, I put five things we want to keep on our radar: 1) wash windows, 2) clean carpets, 3) purge and donate, 4) aerate the yard, and 5) get new pine straw for the yard.

I made this chart at the beginning of the month and spent three weeks actually doing it. And I love it! It was taking me less than an hour a day (aside from laundry) and made me feel so much better. I occasionally skipped a task or combined two days into one when I was motivated, but the general system was there. It was so nice to have a few weeks of success under my belt, even though I'll take at least the month of February off. I'm not even going to attempt it with a newborn, but I love knowing it's there when I'm ready to pick it back up!

I've got meal planning on my chart but wanted to elaborate! I've used Plan to Eat for planning and making my grocery lists for the past three years, and I love it. It has streamlined the whole process for me. If I see a recipe that looks good online, I use the "Add to PTE" bookmark to save it. If it's from a book, I quickly type in the recipe name + ingredients and then list the cookbook title and page number in the Directions section. The Plan tab is easy to navigate and rearrange, if needed. And I love that it auto-generates a shopping list based on the recipes I've planned. Then, all I have to do is add stuff from our Staples List that needs to be replenished.

The only problem? I was meal planning when I noticed we were running out of things rather than being intentional about it. The only real change here is the fact that I now plan on Sundays and grocery shop on Mondays! I did something different for February and loosely planned the month in advance, but I prefer weekly planning overall.

Do you have a cleaning or meal planning routine?
Check back tomorrow the other routines I'm trying to implement!


  1. I LOVE THIS. I'm so motivated just reading it haha. I've tried to think about a good weekly/monthly/quarterly cleaning schedule and a lot of these make sense for me too. I'll have to think about how to implement my own!

  2. I love this side of the blog, I always come back looking for organization posts (even thought I started to originally following you because of the books) and it was a nice surprise to see these last posts :)

  3. OK, so I first saw this and was thinking, I dunno if I could do something like this, it’s just too much with two little kids BUT the more i think about it, the more genius I think it is! I have no schedule for this kind of stuff so I tend to get behind on everything and completely overwhelmed. I don’t know where to start, so I’m paralyzed and do nothing. Or I do something that just feels like a drop in the bucket and wonder what’s the point? But I think if I had a schedule and a plan, I would KNOW what to do each day and also know when the rest will get done and not feel like it should all be done in one day. There’s something to be said for compartmentalizing! I think I’ll start with some sort of “map” or checklist for finally tackling the various things I’ve put off to get the craziness under control, then try to get a weekly/monthly schedule started afterwards. Thank you for the inspiration! If you can work on this with a new baby (even with a month off!) I can do it with a 1 year old! :)

  4. I always find your posts about organization super inspiring, and this one is no exception! I'm particularly fond of how you organized your cleaning schedule. You're definitely inspiring me to take some time to really think out some new routines to get in place for myself too!


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