Finding your Winter Routine
Updated: Oct 29, 2022
It’s 8pm on a Friday night. This afternoon for me, after work & coaching, consisted of getting to the gym, cycling there & back & trying to squeeze in a hack with whatever daylight was left. I was pleasantly surprised when I got back into the yard at 5.50pm and it was still actually relatively light!
This weekend the clocks go back an hour and it’s not a weekend any equestrian looks forward to except for the fact that it does mean the mornings will be getting a little bit lighter in the short term! Finding a way of fitting everything in with fewer daylight hours through the winter months is one of the biggest areas I help my riders work through during their coaching journey. For me, it’s probably one of my busiest times of the year and it is a challenge to juggle and balance everything!
I encourage all of my clients to have a rough routine to work around especially at this time of the year, of course the plan can be flexible and adaptable depending on work, horse, family plans but it’s important you have a rough roadmap to give yourself some structure. Otherwise, if you’re just doing things totally willy-nilly and ad hoc you’re not going to find yourself getting the results you’re looking for.
I always say I hate people using the excuse of, "Oh I find the winter so demotivating, the lack of daylight makes everything so much harder, I can't fit things in now it's dark". Don't get me wrong these all definitely have to be a consideration when it comes to fitting everything in but equally this should not become your excuse!
So how do you make sure you keep control of your life, keep pushing that needle forward towards your goals and stop yourself from getting totally overwhelmed at this time of year?
First of all, write all of your commitments & things you need to do across the week down on a piece of paper. Literally, put down everything that you include as something that has to be done within your week. It can be gym sessions, your horse's exercise, competitions, family events, nights out, childcare, social plans etc so you know what all of your priorities are & what you're expectations on a weekly basis for yourself are.
Then from here break them down into 4 sections;
From here list down every task that has to be done within each area. This is going to help to highlight to you what you need to get done on a weekly basis within each division of your life.
Next, break this down on a daily basis. Think about what works on specific days working around work commitments, meetings, and lessons so you know what you can fit in where. When you do this it’s going to make it easier to work out what you can & can't do, say for example if you’ve got a flat work lesson you might not be able to fit in that meeting and a gym session as well! It's going to help you to be more realistic with your expectations for yourself & have balance across the week.
Now you are able to see what your daily plan looks like it’s going to make it easier to identify what needs changing around or moving to suit your lifestyle better.
On all of these daily focuses break them down into three categories
-Must be done
-Can wait/would be nice to do
-Can delegate or eliminate
Once you have broken your daily tasks down into those three categories that’s going to help you to have clarity and focus on what you actually need to get done and what you can maybe put on the back burner or add in when you get extra time. 1 tip I give all my clients is to not have any more than 3 to do's on your list in each area each day.
For example for me this would be one work task, one animal based task and then either one physical or one personal task. If you complete all three then absolutely add another one to your list but if you have 101 things on your to do list this is simply just going to increase overwhelm and decrease clarity for you.
Winter time is most definitely hard and I think all of us at horsey people struggle with the lack of daylight and feeling like the days are so much shorter at this time of year. In reality, we still have the same amount of time we have in the summer it’s just about making our days that bit more productive and making the best use of our time across the day to suit you best!
Be flexible and adaptable with your plan as we all know unexpected variabilities will be thrown in & can creep in such as weather, horse issues, family problems etc. This is when the plan can get thrown completely out of Kiel if you're rigid to the schedule but if you know your plan is movable it’s going to make it easier to still adhere to your intentions and keep yourself on track.
Without a doubt the winter makes life harder, it requires more planning and effort but it’s by no means an excuse to not meet your goals or make progress! The winter time is probably the best time to work on yourself as most of us will probably give our horses a bit of a break and social plans in October & November tend to quieten down until the festive period so it's a relatively distraction free period.
If you find yourself struggling then think about reassessing your priorities, your daily intentions & changing your routine and realise that we’re all human. As long as you’re putting full effort and commitment in that is what counts and you will get to that long term goal! Enjoy the winter, do what works for you and I hope this helps you to map out your days across the next few months & have some structure.