Switching from a summer to a fall routine can be tricky.
“Summer has a different rhythm,” said Sibel Babacan, a certified professional life and leadership coach in Boston for the past 11 years. “There is just a more relaxed sense of our days.”
However, the final weeks of summer are a perfect time to put concentrated thought into your fall routine so that it’s successful, Babacan said.
Ahead, she offers five tips for developing — and sticking to — a new routine this fall.
1. Create a log.
Babacan asks her clients to keep a log of their days for at least a week, but ideally for two weeks, so that they can examine the data when creating a new routine that works.
You’ll want to log the major activities of your day and your energy level while doing them, she said. Make sure to include the time you wake up, go to bed, and what you eat for meals as well, she said.
“You get a sense of how your days are,” Babacan said.
2. Spend time visualizing.
Analyze the data from your log and then, armed with that knowledge, spend a fair amount of time visualizing your fall routine, Babacan said.
“That’s one of the mistakes, diving right into [changes] without further investigations,” she said. “It’s what makes the difference between sticking to a routine or not.”
When you think about a smooth fall routine for yourself and your family, what stands out in your mind? Do you visualize waking up at a certain time? Eating healthy daily breakfasts? Getting to the gym?
Also address what about your current routine is working, what isn’t, and why? Are there any habits or routines that you’d like to let go?
“This is you kind of self coaching yourself, finding your strengths,” she said.
3. Be specific and know why you want to make a change.
Avoid vague goals, Babacan said. For example, if you decide you want to be more healthy, you should push yourself to be more specific than that, she said.
“That goal seems to be a nice goal, but what does that mean?” she said. “What does being healthy mean to you? And what does it mean in regard to your routine? Does it mean starting the day with a healthy breakfast? Or is it about making those annual appointments with your doctor? It will be different for all of us.”
Also, think about why you want to make the change you do, she said.
“What I see when people do not stick with their routine, chances are they don’t know their ‘why,'” Babacan said. “They haven’t taken the time to identify what their ‘why’ is.”
For example, if you aim to get out the door with the kids without arguing, you are honoring that family connection, Babacan said.
“It’s not just getting out the door at a certain time,” she said.
Or if you enjoy volunteering at a community center but have moved 40 minutes away, you can work a similar activity into your schedule that works better for your commute.
“By saying yes to that, you are probably not saying yes to some other things that are looking at you,” Babacan said. “Then you go, ‘OK, what I’m honoring there is my sense of contribution. Where else can I honor that that’s closer to me?'”
4. Seek support.
If a new routine involves your family, have a conversation with them so everyone is on the same page, Babacan said.
“This time is a good time for it: August,” she said. “Don’t wait until everybody is out the door for school.”
You can also team up with like-minded friends for certain goals, she said. If you want to fill your fall evenings with less television and more reading, for example, what about starting a book club?
“You don’t have to do this alone,” she said.
5. Think of your routine as a design project.
“I love thinking of these things as design projects,” Babacan said. “Be curious, have fun with it, and create it as you go.”
It’s important to be flexible, she said. Give any new change about a month before you evaluate how it’s going, she said. Then feel free to tweak it if you need to.
Also, don’t forget to acknowledge your efforts and successes, she said.
“You are doing a great job by looking at the change,” Babacan said. “It’s a courageous thing to do. So acknowledge that.”