Self-Care Routines for Graduate School

I will outline 3 routines that have helped me to practice self-care and productivity. I will describe my morning routine, weekly planning routine, and daily planning routine.

What Does Self-Care Mean?

I wish I could have had this more figured out when I was actually in grad school. We can’t go back and I’m happy I have a better routine for self-care. I also have learned that self-care is a journey and not a destination. I’m still learning to be kind with myself and to keep moving forward no matter what.

I know a lot of self-care type of things will talk about spa days and vacations. And those are definitely important. I just wish someone would have talked about the not so sexy things that can be a part of self-care. These are the things that you do, that you don’t want to do, and that you need to do. And you only notice how vital they are in your life when you fall off from doing them on a daily basis.

I’m currently balancing a full-time job as a Women’s Resource Center Director, coaching clients, creating content for the business, and maintaining relationships. It’s a lot to do every day and I know if I want to continue to be able doing this much, I have to take care of myself. My goals include continuing to improve on these things because I have so much more than I want to do. You can only be as good as your health.

My Routines

Routines are a vital part of self-care. As someone who has a close intimate relationship with anxiety, I’m always on the lookout for ways to better navigate life with it. What I know for sure is that the fewer decisions my brain has to make, the less my anxiety acts up. I have always been that person who said, I don’t want to be caged in by routines. That’s a boring life. Now that I’m older and wiser, I know how foolish that sounds. Routines are literally saving my life over here.

Morning Routine

My anxiety tends to be worse in the morning. I’m also not a morning person. I feel like I was away at war during the night and now I have returned home in the morning. Going on autopilot has been the best thing ever.

It is not so much about waking up at the same time every morning (which has been happening naturally as I continue on with this routine). Doing the same thing every morning helps to ensure that I’m starting my day off on a good note and I’m setting up myself for a productive day.

My morning routine: Get out of the bed (probably have been up for at least 30-60 minutes. It’s a process...) Make coffee, drink 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar, and drink 16 oz of water. I will do some light stretching, meditation, and read a chapter of whatever book I’m on at the moment in the living room while the coffee is brewing. By this point, the coffee should be finished. I take a cup of coffee back to my room. I light a candle and write out my goals before working on planning out my day. This takes about 30-40 minutes and then I get ready for work.

Weekly Planning Routine

I have so many things zooming around in my head. I always have new ideas and it takes everything in me not to just drop everything to work on that new idea. That is not practical and an inefficient use of my time. I’ve been following this routine for a few months now and have seen a dramatic improvement in my productivity.

Usually, on Sundays or Monday mornings, I take out a few sheets of white printer paper. The blank paper helps me to think and writing works better (as opposed to using a digital system). I write out everything that comes to mind that I need to get done. I work to put things into 3 categories: business, work, and personal. I also try to start out each task with a verb (e.g., write email, call dentist). I also will review the last week in my planner to see what I did not get done and add those items to my new list.

After I feel like I have exhausted my list, I then work to put things into my planners. I have a business/personal planner and a work planner. I first start with identifying a priority item for each day. This is the thing that I will make sure I do no matter what. Next, I will identify three business tasks and 1 personal task for each day to work on and write that in my planner. This helps me to prioritize and to plan according to what I have each day. The leftover tasks will be listed in my notes section for the planner. These are the items that I will get to if I have time.

Morning Planning Routine

Therefore, every morning when I go to plan out my day, I go to my planner and I know what I have to focus on. I have a notebook that I use for planning out my days. I also took this planning sheet idea from Brennan Burchard. I’m still trying it out but it seems to be working out so far.

You start out by identifying 3 major projects/goals that you are working on. I’m currently working on decluttering, Coding 101 workshop, and building routines. Under each project, you write five steps you need to complete in order to accomplish that goal.

Next, you identify people you need to reach out to for the day and people you are waiting to hear back from.

Last, you write out a priority list of 10 tasks you need to accomplish for that day. This is where I will take those tasks from my planner and break them down into smaller tasks for the day to ensure I complete them. I take this book with me for the day. I will work to accomplish 1-2 tasks before going to work, 1-2 during lunch, and then the rest after work.

Work In-Progress

Because I’m still a work in progress, I will be working on a nighttime routine because my sleep has not been consistent, which is a vital component of self-care. When I get a quality 7-8 hours of sleep, I’m a much better human to be around. I’m able to get more done in my day. I’m also working on being consistent with my workout routine. I’ve been letting myself get caught up in working and sacrificing gym time. I also want to work on planning out my outfits and food for the week.

This much planning may seem like a lot. This upfront work helps my brain to go on autopilot during the week because I notice what happens, especially as the week goes on, I get tired and overwhelmed easily. So I just go to that day’s plan and start from the top of the list. No thinking required, just doing.

What are some the routines that help you to care for yourself? Any tips for me? Let me know in the comments!