Ever feel like you have absolutely no sense of what day it is, or heck, what month it is? The past two years have done a number on people’s daily routines, whether you’re working from home or not. With few ways of distinguishing between Tuesday and Wednesday — or even Tuesday and Saturday — it’s easy to lose track. But one recently viral TikTok series offers a brilliant daily routine template for every day of the week. Content creator Eli Rallo (@thejarr on TikTok) shared her rules for the week with her 315K-plus followers, and all seven have racked up thousands of likes and hundreds of thousands of views. Even if you’re not about to start Mondays with her suggestion of waking up at 7 a.m., her hyper-speedy videos serve up major daily routine inspiration.
The first video shows Rallo talking into a headphone speaker over a Notes-app screenshot of her “rules for a Sunday.” The day starts off with an alarm at 9:30 a.m. — yes, an alarm, because “Saturday is the day to not set an alarm and sleep in,” says Rallo, whereas Sunday is the day to “get sh*t done.” The video continues by advocating breakfast in athleisure and picking up a “bougie little coffee treat.” For Tuesday, the “rules” include starting off with laundry, then making time for a sibling/long distance BFF checkin.
You get the gist — the videos don’t prescribe a hard and fast schedule, but rather a checklist of elements that will make every Wednesday the optimal Wednesday, every Friday a choice Friday. That’s why this formula is perfect for creating a daily routine that, well, doesn’t suck.
Daily Routine Benefits
“The monotony of a routine can seem dull and drab in comparison to the exhilaration associated with spontaneity,” Cora Richter, LMSW, MA, a therapist and clinical director at mental health platform Rappore, tells Bustle. “However, when our routines are taken away from us, we appreciate the emotional and mental stability that they provide.”
Routines for each day help you feel stable and in control, particularly in uncertain times, therapist Dr. Karmen Smith, MSW, LCSW, DD, tells Bustle. “A familiar routine can help regulate your emotions, as it provides a sense of control over your day,” she says. “As humans we want to know what's coming next. It helps us alleviate anxiety, fear or worry.” No matter what happens, each day will be different from the last, so little rituals — like only planning happy hours on Thursdays — keep things stable in the midst of chaos.
Along with providing a sense of safety and security, Richter says, daily routines can also give you short cuts — packing lunches or briefcases on Sunday night to save time on a Monday morning, for example — and are associated with better sleep quality and more alertness. They also make you feel more on top of things. “When people feel productive and that they have achieved something it increases self esteem — a feeling of competence and mastery,” she says. A 2018 study published in Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin found that people with daily routines had more meaning in their lives than those who didn’t have a daily plan.
Plus they’re good for mental health. “Routines can act as behavioral activation, an evidenced-based treatment for combatting low mood and depression by increasing activity level,” Richter says. When you plot your a different routine for each day, you can think about what triggers low moods or anxiety, or what helps you feel more productive or accountable. Does spending Sunday nights scheduling emails for the next week make you feel in control of your life? Or are Sunday nights for the girls, aka Shonda Rhimes and the Bridgerton ladies? Either way, if it helps you live your best life, it’s a worthy part of your daily routine.
How To Build A Daily Routine
“Before you start, get clear on what you want to get out of it,” Dr. Smith says. “Is it to feel less stress? Be more mindful? Find joy? Or to get out anxious feelings?” That might give you some ideas about how to customize each day properly: Putting together a more filling breakfast knowing that on Wednesdays and Thursdays, you have class after work, for instance. Richter suggests looking non-judgmentally at what you’re doing right now so you know what you’re working with. “If that means your morning routine is rolling out of bed, throwing on a button-down shirt over your pajamas and turning on Zoom 15 minutes before your start of day, so be it,” she says.
Richter says you should take things gradually, particularly if you want to give yourself five — or seven — new daily routines at once. “Start by adding one step at a time for your routine, and work to do this step every day for two weeks,” she says. Then reassess, add another step, and keep going until you have a routine you like. Not sure it’s working out? Dr. Smith also recommends giving your daily revamp time: measure success in weeks, not days. “Get creative, and keep open to exploring different things,” she says.
A study on the science of routine published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine in 2019 found that one of the quickest ways to get yourself into a rhythm is to avoid giving yourself a choice. If you have to pick between options, you waste time, and might pick something you actually don’t want, just because it’s quick and easy. Coffee pod laid out for you on Thursday mornings? No choice necessary — which is less stressful overall, too.
If you want to revamp your morning routines, experts suggest waking up at the same time every day, drinking glasses of water, looking at your to-do list, making some time to exercise or meditate, and leaving the house at the same time. In the evening, the framework can be eating dinner at the table every night, setting out your clothes and other necessities for the following day, and turning off screens 30 minutes before bed. Mix, match, and customize the order to suit your week.
Cora Richter LMSW MA
Dr. Karmen Smith MSW LCSW DD
Arlinghaus, K. R., & Johnston, C. A. (2018). The Importance of Creating Habits and Routine. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 13(2), 142–144. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827618818044
Heintzelman, S. J., & King, L. A. (2019). Routines and Meaning in Life. Personality & social psychology bulletin, 45(5), 688–699. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167218795133