January 26, 2021

Creating and planning good routines from scratch

January is full of discussions about routines and their benefits - but very few of these actually focus on how to create a routine from scratch. We can help!

Creating and planning good routines from scratch

Returning to daily life after the Christmas break (or even a period of isolation or illness) can feel disorienting. It is surprising how quickly you can fall out of practice with the idea of a daily routine and the rhythms of leaving the house and returning. For others, it might feel like no matter how many times you have to wake up and leave the house, there are always far too many things to do and far too little time. Routines help by prioritising what you need to do in the time you have.

The key to everything is, predictably, planning. We always find the more time you put into thinking and planning out your day ends up saving you more time and effort when it actually comes to carrying out your activities. So let us walk you through step by step how you can plan a morning and back home routine that can support you and help your day feel less chaotic.

How many routines do you need?

When people talk about a routine, commonly they mean a morning routine. They imagine all the things that they need to do in the morning to help them get out of the door on time. We don’t deny that this is a powerful motivator and is a good place to start when planning. However, we equally think that it is important to create ‘a back to home routine’ or maybe ‘a bedtime routine’ to help you rest and recover from the day. These are particularly important for Autistic people and ADHD’ers, who will have been coping with additional sensory demands, and might also be over stimulated or tired from masking in neurotypical society. Once you get into the habit of creating routines, you will quickly notice when other activities naturally fall into a pattern that could be a routine. Feel free to experiment with others and see what works for you.

Morning Routine

If this is your first time creating a routine, we advise you to start with a blank sheet of paper to work out your timings, before you enter them into Tiimo or another digital calendar/planner app. The process we write below goes into a lot of detail as our followers have requested a more indepth look at how to build a routine, so if you are more used to planning out routines and activities you may want to skip through to parts that are more relevant to you or you can just start building your routine immediately in the app.


A good place to start is to write down what your start time at school or work is, in the middle of the paper. Then think how long your journey from home takes you to get there and write that above. We recommend then adding a buffer time of 10-15 minutes, especially for the first week when you are still figuring out how your routine will work for you.

So after your journey time and buffer time is calculated and taken away from your start time, you should have a time which you need to leave the house. Write that down above the start time.

Now we are going to skip over the morning routine for a minute and think about how much sleep you need. While many people survive on less (hello social media scrolling!) it is advisable that adults get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a day. Write down your wake up time at the top of the paper and your bedtime at the bottom of the sheet.

So now you have a gap between the time you wake up and the time you need to leave. Try and list down all the things you need to do from waking up to leaving the house. It can be a good idea to create a ‘must do’ list on one side of the paper (for example: eating breakfast, toileting, brushing teeth, styling hair, washing face, SPF, changing clothes, taking vitamins or medication) and a ‘would like to do’ list on the other side ((journaling/mindfulness exercises, exercising). Don’t forget the actual process of leaving the house (changing into shoes and outdoor wear, taking your bag and locking the house). Without assigning times yet - do your lists look realistic? Is it possible to do all these things in the time you have between waking up and leaving the house? If it is starting to look a little overwhelming, think about whether you would prefer to wake up earlier (and also go to bed earlier) or take out some of the ‘would like to do’ activities. Could they move to the evening instead? This is the first sense check!

The second sense check involves duration! Start putting a rough duration for each activity next to it. Does this again add up to the time that you have between waking up and leaving the house? If not, and these are the activities that you have to do, then look at your wake up time. Again, it is also really good to add in some more buffer time here (even just 10 minutes) so you aren’t rushing and stressing yourself out. Buffer time is especially important if you find transitions tricky. You can always change the buffer time later on after you are used to your routine and find that you have more of an idea how long things actually take. This part of the exercise will also be very useful if entering activities into Tiimo as our routines are duration based as opposed to time based.

So when everything looks good - congratulations! You have a morning routine! You can now add it into your schedule. If using Tiimo, you can now think about whether you need to add any checklists, notes or reminders to any of the activities. You might want to put the activities into your schedule in the order that makes the most sense to you (however, with the new routines feature currently on iOS, you will be able to start any activity within your routine at any time).


Day Schedule

We aren’t going to cover this here, as your schedule during the day will probably be set, with classes, meetings or other activities. If you already have your schedule on a calendar app, remember that you can use the Calendar Import feature on both iOS and Android to bring it into your Tiimo ‘My Day’ schedule.

If you have interoception struggles, we would recommend making sure that you also add in lunch, snacks, toilet and hydration breaks during your day to remind you.

Back to Home Routine


Using a similar process to the morning routine, you can create an arriving home routine. We think this is really important in making sure that you have time to both physically and mentally unpack from the day. On the same piece of paper under your school/work start time, write your finishing time. Under that, add the travel time it takes for you to get home, travel buffer time and the expected time that you will get home. A good time period to think about for this routine is between 30 mins to an hour. Now do another brain dump of the activities that will help you to feel grounded and comfortable when you come home. Some people might need restful activities and others might need extra stimulation or energy creating activities. Or you might need a mixture of both so that you can choose what you need on different days! These ideas can be stored in a checklist with your activity. Don’t forget to include functional activities like taking off outdoor clothes, unpacking bags and washing hands when you first come through the door.

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Congratulations on creating your routines! Now you know the process, you can apply it to other times which would help you, for example, a before bedtime routine, or a weekend morning routine. We encourage you to give your routines a trial for a week, and you will quickly learn which activities in the routine make a difference, which ones can be dropped and which ones you have forgotten about and need to be added in! The brilliant thing about using Tiimo to build your routines is that it is very easy to not only add, delete and edit routines, but you can also save copies of your routine with slight variations in your routine library. So if you are having a low spoons or energy day, or it is a weekend, you can just place the appropriate routine you made earlier into your schedule without having to spend time editing or switching profiles. Also remember that Tiimo has premade routines (and activities) within the content library. You can easily add these to your schedule and then add, edit or delete individual activities, and personalise them with your own icons and colours.

If you would like to learn more about our routines feature for iOS, you can read our first two blogposts in the series here and here. You can also check out screen recordings on our saved stories on Instagram to see how the feature works.

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