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The 10/10/10 Routine: What It Is, & How It’s Improved My Life

By Tuesday, August 24, 2021

The 10/10/10 routine is a practice of integrating small moments for yourself during an otherwise busy day. This is a routine for those who by 9:00 p.m. think to themselves, shoot, I really wanted to [read my book, do a yoga video, play a video game with my partner, go for a walk, etc.], but are just. too. tired. This is a routine for those who have hobbies that they genuinely miss and fantasize about fitting into their day of work, chores, childcare, school, and the medley of other responsibilities stacked back-to-back. 

The 10/10/10 routine consists of spending 30 minutes doing three 10-minute leisure activities. These 10 minutes can be completed consecutively or split up throughout different times of the day. The ideal is to have at least 30 minutes of personal time per day. If this routine were to be implemented 7 days per week, that is 3.5 hours more dedicated to personal pursuits. This is not one of those articles which lays out an uber specific and rigid formula for personal success. The structure of this routine is flexible. Maybe it becomes 5/5/5 or even 2/2/2. It’s important to note that free time is a form of privilege and that not everyone has 30 extra minutes per day. At the core of this routine is dedicating small moments to meaningful activities. The Rule of Three is loosely adapted here to create more satisfaction from the routine, aiming to complete three personal activities in 30 minutes. The Rule of Three states that in writing, media, and other content, putting items in triads engenders a more satisfying and appealing experience. 

The 10/10/10 began as a week-long experiment for me. I was getting sick of continuously putting hobbies that bring me peace and nourishment on the back burner. Given, I am a busy person; I am a full-time therapist, a part-time, online graduate student, occasional freelance writer, a cat mom to kittens, in a long-term relationship, along with active friend groups (on top of just being a person who needs to shower and eat three-plus times a day). So I consulted my long-distance friend Emma, who is also prone to endless TikTok scrolling and leads just as busy a life. We enlisted one another as ~ empowerment buddies ~, as she wanted to begin a morning meditation practice. Most mornings, not always, we send a quick “hello, I’m awake doing the thing I said I wanted to do!” Snapchat video. Not only do I look forward to our groggy morning hellos, but I feel such pride that my friend is taking time to take care of herself alongside me. 

For about a month now, I have been starting most days with 10 minutes of stretching/yoga, 10 minutes of writing in my journal, and 10 minutes of reading, and I have noticed some changes in myself. In the process, I have learned some tips for anyone wanting to implement their own 10/10/10. 

What’s Changed Since Doing My 10/10/10?

  • According to my Daylio mood/habit tracker, I am experiencing more positive than negative moods throughout the last few weeks. 
  • I consequently adjusted my evening routine to be in bed by 9:30 p.m., so that I can have plenty of time to enjoy my 10/10/10 in the morning without feeling rushed. This has brought more structure to my evening and less opportunity for that tempting hour-long scroll before bed (and also more sleep!).  
  • I feel personally accomplished before I even step out the door. 
  • Because I give myself a taste of my 10/10/10 activities in the morning, I am more inclined to carve out moments for these activities in the evening, especially to finish the chapter I started reading that morning. 
  • I can sense the boundary between my work and personal life strengthened. 
  • I feel closer to my empowerment buddy. 
  • I am more in control of my free time, and feel more closer to who I am outside of work. 
  • I am practicing flexibility with myself. Some days, I just don’t do my 10/10/10…and some days, I just do one activity. 

Tips To Get Started.

  • Choose three (or fewer) activities that you find yourself wishing you had the time to do on a regular day. Go with your gut. What are the first three that pop into your mind?
  • Change the time variable, if needed. Starting with 3/3/3 is entirely acceptable. 
  • Set yourself up the night ahead – as my empowerment buddy encouraged me to do, I literally open my journal to a fresh page each night and place it on my rolled out yoga mat. 
  • Use a focus/timer app to keep you on track with each activity. I use the Forest app, which echoes the Pomodoro Method of focusing in short spurts. 
  • Pair other passive habits with your activities. For example, I drink a big glass of water while completing my 10/10/10. 
  • Do not be strict with yourself. Act intuitively by only doing these series of hobbies when you feel physically, emotionally, and mentally up to it. A healthy routine adapts to you, not the other way around. 
  • I cannot emphasize enough: have an empowerment buddy of some sort, even if it’s your pet. They can be really good cheerleaders! 
  • And finally, take a few extra minutes to notice how you feel after completing your 10/10/10. Tuning into this feeling will likely encourage you to continue the ritual. 

This routine certainly echoes other personal development rituals, such as the “Do One Thing For Yourself Before Your Boss Every Morning” or “Carve Out Time For Yourself With These Simple Steps.” I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a sucker for all things routine, rituals, and lifestyle hacks. I love a good formula branded to bring me personal fulfillment. But what I’ve learned from my time scouring the Internet for a perfect and effortless lifestyle solution to my lack of leisure time, is that there isn’t a quick-fix solution, only small intentional changes that culminate into bigger, more noticeable changes. It’s with the guidance of strategies such as the 10/10/10 that can effectively bring about bigger change. 

Getting through the first few weeks of a routine is a major challenge for me. Approaching this new routine from a growth mindset was key to my sticking with the first week. Those with a growth mindset, versus a fixed mindset, are defined by Top Hat Glossary as, “People who believe that their success depends on time and effort. . .They embrace challenges, persist through obstacles, learn from criticism and seek out inspiration in others’ success. . .believe that they can get better at something by the dedication of time, effort, and energy. Working on one’s flaws, and the process—not the outcome—are the most important components.” 

In essence, someone with a growth mindset takes the initial clunkiness of integrating a new routine in stride, and focuses more on being present during the routine than getting the gold star for completing the routine. 

As I approach the month mark of doing 10/10/10 on a mostly consistent basis, I feel myself experiencing less anxiety in the mornings. Instead of bulldozing through my morning, getting straight down to the business of getting myself ready to head out the door, I reserve 40 minutes of my morning solely for me-things (I tack on an extra 10 minutes to feed my cats and wake up a little). It’s like I am giving myself three small, special gifts every day. As a person diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, it’s crucial for me to notice when in my day I feel the tensest, worried, and not in the present, and respond to that with mindful intervention. Mornings have historically been a time in which I worry about the day to come and the knots in my neck and shoulders begin to form. While the 10/10/10 routine hasn’t *cured* my anxiety, or even lessened it dramatically, the routine has certainly softened my mornings and set a positive tone to my days. The 10/10/10 is a framework in which you can plug in activities that cultivate personal identity. In a world that demands so much from us, remember to reserve some of that energy to just be you, whoever that may be. I am a yogi, journaler, and bookworm. 

Skylar is a mental health counselor who talks about self-care as the foundation of a prosperous life.

Image via Unsplash

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