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The Power of Forming (and Keeping) Routines

How to manage stress in life

Some people may believe having routines to be boring and monotonous. What's so great and fun about doing the same thing day in and day out? Well, the truth is establishing a routine and getting into the habit of doing it actually frees you from the stress of knowing there's something you should be doing.

Enter FlyLady

Around the year 2000, I was having issues with organization in my home. I looked online and somehow this cute little cartoonish lady character with wings touting the virtues of routines. She was called FlyLady (Fly = Finally Loving Yourself), and she promised to bring me out of CHAOS (Can't Have Anybody Over Syndrome.)
She not only succeeded with that, but she helped me out of a bad relationship that I had been determined to work out. No, she never actually talked to me, and she didn't say, "LuAnne, you need to leave."
Instead, she guided me step by step through building a routine that I could follow no matter how busy, how depressed, or how frustrated I became with my situation.

Can you find FlyLady on my fridge? 😉💓

FlyLady helps you take control of chaos (can't have anyone over syndrome)
She made things fun, and in a way held me accountable. Every day I got emails about what should be done that day. At the same time, she said "You're never behind. Start where you are and do one babystep at a time." As she says on the Beginner's Page, "We are here to lift you up and celebrate every little accomplishment."
She encouraged people to write to her about their accomplishments. One day I did that, and got back in an email a HUGE purple email saying nothing more than  "I am so proud of you!" And I do mean huge – big enough that I still remember, and wish I still had it to look at every once in a while.

27 Fling Boogie Uncovers Success

Through the 27 Fling Boogie, the 2 minute pickup, and various other little work-games, not only did I make my home more comfortable to live in, but I made room for my self-esteem to grow.

The power of forming routinesHow could routines possibly do all that? During all these daily flings, she pointed to various areas to fling from, and it got down to where I was getting rid of things I had held onto from decades ago. 
Things I didn't love went to GoodWill or the trash. Boxes were emptied or combined that had been sitting for 30 years.
I remember one particular day when I had finished going through all the old boxes in the garage, all the kitchen mismatched stuff was gone, only pens that work were in pen holders, videos were alphabetized…the list went on of things organized.
Now this might be no big deal for some people. But for me, someone who has a hard time succeeding well at anything, this brought on a near panic attack. I remember the feeling coming over me of "Oh my gosh! What am I going to do now!?" This brought on because I had succeeded at my goal.
Hmmmm…that makes me wonder if I might still have that issue!

Different Types of Clutter

You might have a type of clutter different than what I'm talking about here... such as a lot of assignments at work, too much to do at home, stress over finances or a relationship. I could go on... but I'm sure you can come up with the mind-clutter that's bogging you down. 

The problem with holding on to all of that mind-clutter is not only can it make it hard to focus on your current task, it can affect your sleep, and raise your blood pressure from the stress of it all.

Ideas for Dealing with Mental or Physical Clutter

  • Prioritize what your tasks are that need done, and either start from the hardest and work towards the easiest, or work from whatever is the most mandatory... as in something bad will happen if you don't get it done.
  • Spend a bit of time meditating. It doesn't have to be a long time... even a few minutes just relaxing, possibly praying, and giving yourself permission to not think about your stresses during that time.
  • Journal... Sometimes writing down your thoughts can make things clearer for you. If not helping right away, it makes it easier to look back on what was happening and your thoughts at the time. That way, something could come to your mind with possible solutions.
  • Listen to some music... This is something that almost always helps me. It can give you an added boost of energy or relaxation, depending on what type of music you enjoy. If you're clearing physical clutter, music is a great way to keep your energy going. 
  • Talk with someone and share how you feel. Sometimes it's good just to know someone else knows or could have an idea that you haven't found yet.
  • Use a timer... A timer takes away the guilt when you need to stop, or when you feel overwhelmed. You can do anything for 15 minutes (or 5 minutes if you really can't handle the overwhelm!)

Routines = Less Stress and More Peace of Mind

For example, for the self-employed, sometimes it is hard to do the things you need to do to succeed in your business. 
  • Write down what you need to do to reach your goal. 
  • Find a time in your day (first thing is best) and do it…every day. 
  • Then find the next thing you need to do. 
That is your new routine.
Another benefit of creating routines is that studies have shown that routines can help deal with mental health issues even as serious as dealing with bipolar disorder and substance abuse. 
If you need help developing routines, you can go to www.flylady.net to sign up at no cost or just to check out what she's about. No obligations on her website, and nothing you need to pay for. If you'd like her book to get you started, you can read her book, Sink Reflections,  located here.
Believe me, as the clutter disappears, whether from your refrigerator, your coffee table, your bedroom floor, your body or all the things you need to do are freed from your mind, it is like peeling layers of an onion away from your stress little by little. It is such a freeing feeling.
Try adding that new habit to your routine every couple of weeks. That gives you time to really feel that habit kick into its place during the day. 

These habits can be formed not only for housework but for work-work (working for a company), the self-employed, teachers, and holiday preparations (hint- begin holiday prep at least a couple months in advance) – her help covers everyone.

Are You Ready for an Emergency?

How does this story help you? Do you live in an area where you might have to evacuate quickly someday, or could a move be in your future where it would be easier and cost less to HAVE less to move?
Or, would you just like your home and your life to be clutter-free?
If you live in an area where you could possibly have to evacuate because of fire, tornado, flooding, or even a relationship, figure out what the most important things are that you would need to take with you. 
These could be items such as medical records, prescriptions, your contact list, clothes, miscellaneous bathroom items/cosmetics, any court records you might need, birth certificates, etc. 
Make sure the documents are in one place where you can just grab and not have to worry about finding them. 
One idea for that could be a zippered notebook, with documents in clear plastic sleeves.
You get the idea. That way you can concentrate on just getting your loved ones and you out as quickly as possible.
You may already have a routine that works for you. If you do, is there something that you need help with that an additional good habit might help? 

I'm hoping you've found something useful to help give you ideas on routines, or at least what you can do to be prepared and not stressed down the road in case of an emergency. 

 A little routine added here and there can make a powerful difference in the long run as to how much stress you have or don't have, as giving you more of a sense of calm.