Setting Up a Routine

I’m big on routines.

Having a routine may give some people an impression that you’re in a bit of a rut, but the truth is a solid routine based around practicality and efficiency is a major stepping stone to getting things done…especially time consuming tasks that can’t be farmed out or put off. Having your routine in place is an important part of making absolutely sure you’re getting through the mundane and keeping yourself sharp and functioning your best.

How you set up a routine largely depends on what you’re doing around it. For example, if your day starts with rushing to get yourself and your kids put together so that you skip breakfast, barely brush your teeth, and have to yell to get everyone moving, your routine is probably not contributing to your overall well being. Let’s fix this now.

Luckily this year New Year’s Day is a Wednesday, but you can set all this up for next Monday if you prefer, giving you four complete weeks in each of January and February. This makes for a nice square planning stage.

1. Get up at least half an hour earlier. If this means getting to bed half an hour earlier, so be it. Being prepared for your day is vastly more important than being sleep deprived but forcing another half hour of entertainment into your already overtaxed brain.

2. Start with a dental care routine. This is an easy fix, and one you can begin tomorrow, and it’s one that will give you the most benefit to your longevity out of all your grooming routines (shaving doesn’t add years to your life or prevent heart disease…flossing does!). Follow this routine: Floss. Scrape your tongue. Rinse with salt water. Brush your teeth. Take at least three minutes to brush gently and thoroughly. Repeat the floss, rinse and brush routine at bedtime as well.

3. Pick a day for certain tasks, and don’t deviate. For example, you might trim your mustache and beard on Sunday and Wednesday. Trim your nose and ear hair (you should, anyway) on Monday. Trim fingernails on Tuesday and toenails on Saturday. Don’t wait for things to get long…keep them tidy as part of your routine and they’ll always appear properly groomed.

4. Pick a day to clean a bit more thoroughly. I’m a strong advocate of lathering and rinsing more than once to prevent body odour and skin breakouts. But sometimes, a little deeper clean is in order. You might elect to use a Saturday when there’s less rush to get out the door, or even try twice a week, to give yourself a bit more scrubbing attention. I like a three-soap routine for this purpose (carbolic, glycerin, and tea tree oil).

5. Follow your shower and shave with moisturizer. This is especially important in the winter. It’s not so much that you want to be soft and supple. It’s more that dry skin from proper cleaning, mixed with low humidity levels in a lot of regions makes itchy dry skin a living nightmare! Plus, all that scratching does lead to tortured flesh, rashes, breakouts, and other nastiness you can live without. Aveeno Baby is a great unscented moisturizer for guys that won’t cover up the scent of your shave or cologne, and works exceptionally well for most applications.

These are just ideas to get your new year started off with a new morning ritual. However you choose to set it up, remember this: don’t deviate from your routine. Once you cross the five week mark, it’s more likely to become a habit, so turning necessary tasks into a daily habit is one of the biggest benefits of this process. It will improve your productivity, help you get more done, and most importantly remove a boatload of stress from your morning rush.