Winter Routine Hacks for Homemakers in Business

Welcome back to the Homemakers in Business podcast. You’re listening to episode #18, Winter Routine Hacks for Homemakers in Business. We’ll be discussing some simple ways to craft your own winter routine specifically tailored for homemakers who are also running their own businesses. I hope you’re ready to take some mental notes cause this is gonna be a good one full of practical tips that will help you thrive during the winter season. Let’s get right into it.

This episode was inspired by one of my journal entries a few days ago. I had realized that morning that I wasn’t getting as much done during the day as I normally do. So I took pen to paper to figure out what was going on and how to remedy it.

Quick tangent, you may not be a journaler, but I can’t recommend it enough. I believe I mentioned in a previous episode that I had always wanted to be someone that journals, even as a kid. But I never got in the habit of writing because I kept boxing myself in thinking the things I wrote about had to be structured a certain way. That’s simply not true.

Now I wasn’t planning to go on a rant about journaling, but it IS what inspired this whole episode, so I’m gonna go on a little rant haha. I got serious, quote unquote about journaling when I joined my first business group coaching program in January of 2020. I didn’t look at it as journaling to begin with, but I wrote down EVERYTHING in my notebook. Call notes, offer and content ideas, grocery lists, my goals and just anything I could think of that I wanted to remember or get out of my head. I quickly filled an entire notebook in less than a year.

It was around this time that I realized I WAS journaling. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t answering the same set of questions every day or even writing every single day. What mattered is that I got my thoughts out of my head and down on paper. I was journaling.

This may not seem so profound to you if you’ve come by journaling easily, but it wasn’t always easy for me, and I still sometimes go weeks without touching my composition notebook. Oh yeah, I journal in plain ole grade school composition notebooks. That was another hangup I had about journaling – the book I was writing in. I have bought MANY journals, notebooks, diaries, whatever you want to call them over the years. But I never filled them up because I didn’t want to write the “wrong” thing or mess up the pretty expensive tool I had bought. And that’s how I viewed journals for yeaaaars.

After I filled my first notebook in 2020 – that one was a grid paper spiralbound thing that I had bought with the intention of using for writing and drawing. Didn’t happen, haha. Anyway, after I filled that thing I browsed nicer journals on Amazon and looked at the ones in Walmart and Books-a-Million. I WANTED the pretty journals with prompts and goalsetting charts and all these elaborate things. I’m a designer, I want my stuff to be pretty! But man, that process of looking for the “right” journal kept me from journaling for a couple of months. That was more harmful to my progress than just biting the bullet and buying a composition notebook that wasn’t pretty enough.

So one day, after drooling over a couple of the most highly recommended business journals on the market, I just decided to drive to my local Dollar General store and buy all the composition notebooks they had. That may sound extreme, but they were literally like a couple of bucks a piece so even if I’d bought 10 they’d be cheaper than the journals I was looking at online. They had 3 in stock, so dirt, dirt cheap and I wouldn’t have to worry about “messing them up.”

At the time of recording this, I’ve filled 4 entire notebooks and am closing in on a 5th. The last one I filled contains some of the biggest milestones in my business, including quitting my last part-time job last summer. They ALL contain ups and downs, charts and quotes, lists, business ideas, prayers, life goals, and weird scribbles I can’t decipher anymore.

The point is – my journaling practice works FOR ME. Some people love journals where they answer the same questions on a daily basis, some love writing their top 3 biggest goals for the week, and others, like me, just need to get the stuff that’s in their head out and down on paper so they can do something with that information. Sometimes I write every little thing I did in a day, if it’s a day I want to remember 10 years from now. Sometimes I write every thing I can think of that needs to be done this month, both personally and in busines. Sometimes I just write a line that says something like, “It’s been a long week. I’m tired and I don’t feel like doing anything,” and that’s it.

I journal to figure out logistical puzzles for things that are difficult for me like figuring out how we’re gonna eat for the week when there’s 3 band events, 4 podcast interviews, 2 client projects due, and the garden needs put in. I journal to visually see all the steps in a complicated automated workflow. I journal to figure out problems, look back on happy or unhappy memories, to stay accountable for the day, and anything else that’s going to help me in the moment.

Okay, let’s take a breath. I say all of that to say this: the way I figure out things for myself may not work for you. You may need some other kind of tool or system or person or process to help you. But just give journaling, my style of journaling, a chance. It may just rock your world.

My Winter Routine for 2023 and 2024

Alright, now let’s get into the meat of this episode. I’m actually going to read you my entire journal entry so you can see how my brain works. Then I’ll break it all down into some simple steps you can take to create your own routine. Hint, it involves journaling! Okay, here’s my journal entry – word for word.

I want to work on developing a better daily routine for winter. My spring/summer routine simply does not work during winter months. I have less energy, there’s less daylight, and fewer out-of-house activities meaning I am alone more. I know from past experience that I am less likely to work around the house OR on the computer after dark. So I need to plan to get all that I want to do in a day DONE by nightfall. Here’s some sunlight info:

October: Sunset by 6PM, Sunrise at 7AM

November: Sunset by 4:40PM, Sunrise at 6:30AM

Yada, yada… I actually wrote the sunrise and sunset times up until April 2024 for my area. Okay, back to the entry.

So between October and April the sun rises between 6AM and 7AM. The sun sets between 4:40PM and 7:30PM. It makes reasonable sense to wake up at 6AM and be done with work by 4PM. I want to keep my 12-1PM lunchtime. So I’ll have a 6-12 block and a 1-4 block to get things done. Based off this morning, the sun doesn’t come up over the trees until 8:15AM. I’d like it to warm up a little before going out to take care of the animals. I can move my animal block to 8:30-9:00AM. That gives me 2.5 hours before I have to go outside.

I can still have my alarm go off at 5:45AM…get up, use the bathroom, turn the bathroom heater on, set the coffee or tea, start a load of laundry, make the bed, change into my winter workout clothes, make my water cup, and do my stretch routine. That should all be done by 6:30AM. Then I can do a real workout. Either 30mins on the treadmill or 30mins of GrowWithJo. Done by 7:00AM.

Make breakfast and see Thomas off by 7:20. Done eating by 7:30. Quiet time from 7:30-8:00. Coffee or tea, Bible reading, journaling, check my schedule. 8-8:30 get ready for the day. 8:30-8:45 animal chores, 8:45-9:00 work ritual. 9-12 focus on buisness. 50 minute Pomodoro followed by a 10 minute break 9-10 and 10-11. Work 11-12. Start lunch break with an outdoor 10 minute walk. 15 minute clarinet practice. 35 minute actual lunch/nap time if needed. Eat outside if warm enough. 1-3 work. 50 minute Pomodoro followed by a 10 minute break 1-2 and 2-3. 3-4 housework/cook supper. 4-10PM unstructured.

I then proceeded to write out the full schedule with some minor tweaks and additional notes til I got to something I felt good about. I then continued writing…

Top 3 Home Tasks:

  1. Meals
  2. Laundry
  3. Floors

Top 3 Business Tasks:

  1. Clients
  2. Meetings
  3. Content

My top 3 home tasks can be taken care of during my 10 minute breaks. That’s 45 minutes to take care of laundry, dishes, vacuuming, mopping, sweeping, and a little meal prep. Obviously my top biz tasks will be taken care of during my set biz hours 9-3. This gives me a solid 4 hour and 20 minutes a day on the biz.

My Homemaking Hour (this is what I decided to call the 3-4PM hour of my day) can include bigger tasks like cooking supper, cleaning the bathrooms, tidying the house, working the garden, cleaning the coop, and anything else that comes up.

4-10PM will always include eating supper, showering, putting the animals up, and doing a quick house tidy. It CAN also include additional biz work, house projects, going out activities, doing puzzles, reading, watching a movie, among other things.

Between housework and working out I’ll get a guaranteed 2 hours and 30 minutes of movement per day.

And that’s the end of the journal entry! After that I moved into some completely unrelated topics, BUT I managed to create a winter routine that is going to work for me and my household specifically. This is not a routine that I could purchase from Etsy or print off of Pinterest. Those are great places to start if you have no idea what your daily routine should include, but your routines should always be personalized to you and your family. That’s the only way you’ll stick to them and make them work for you.

ChatGPT 10-Step Process to a Winter Routine That Works for You

One of the ways I’ve started working smarter and not harder is by utilizing the Ai program, ChatGPT. It helps me structure podcast episodes, blogs, captions, and emails faster. It’s not great 100% of the time, but it speeds up my process. I more or less use it as an idea generator, if that makes sense. I feed it information about my business, my ideal clients, my podcast, etc. and it helps me generate ideas and improve the verbiage I use and the structure of my writings.

I know lots of people have reservations about Ai, I sure do. But I’m wise enough to recognize that it’s not going away, other people are using it for their benefit, so I might as well too. I’m an ethical and moral person, so I’m not going to use this tool for any devious reasons. Today, I used it to speed up my writing of this episode. What I did was I gave it the exact journal entry I just read to you and asked it to define in steps what exactly I did to figure out a routine that would work for me. And here’s the 10 10-step process it gave me.

Step 1: Identify the Need for Change

Recognize that your existing spring/summer routine doesn’t work during the winter months due to factors like reduced energy and less daylight.

Step 2: Gather Information

Research sunrise and sunset times in your area for the relevant months. Understanding the daylight hours is crucial for planning your routine.

Step 3: Analyze the Daylight Hours

Examine the daylight hours between October and April in your area to determine when the sun rises and sets. This analysis will inform your schedule.

Step 4: Design Your Ideal Routine

Create a basic outline for your ideal winter routine, considering the natural rhythms of the season. Determine the key blocks of time in your day and when you can be most productive.

Step 5: Customize Your Morning Routine

Develop a morning routine that aligns with the daylight hours. Your routine might include activities like morning chores, workouts, and self-care.

Step 6: Plan Your Work Blocks

Allocate specific time blocks for work-related tasks, with scheduled breaks in between. Consider using the Pomodoro technique for productivity.

Step 7: Incorporate Home Tasks

Schedule time for essential home tasks like meals, laundry, and cleaning during your breaks or designated homemaking hours.

Step 8: Set Business Priorities

Identify the top three business tasks you want to accomplish each day, and ensure they fit within your work hours.

Step 9: Designate Your “Homemaking Hour”

Allocate an hour for more substantial homemaking tasks like cooking, cleaning, and tending to the household.

Step 10: Create Unstructured Time

Reserve evenings for unstructured time when you can relax, engage in leisure activities, or take care of any remaining tasks.

Now, those may not have been the exact steps I would have chosen on my own, but they’re close enough to work and they make sense. It’s kind of cool to me to see that there was some structure to my thinking when I was writing this journal entry, haha!

Why You Need to Create a Winter Routine

So why even do this? Why take the time to create a routine for specific seasons, why analyze everything you do in a day? Depending on your lifestyle, there a so many different beneficial reasons, but I’ll give you just a few that are universal.

  1. Analyzing your daily activities helps you identify the best times for specific tasks. This maximizes your productivity by aligning your work with your natural energy levels and the available daylight. For instance, the things I do every morning before starting work, those don’t change from season to season. But the TIME of morning I tackle each task does. By knowing that the sun rises later in the winter, I know it’s going to still be completely dark outside when I normally go do my chicken and duck chores. So by changing up my routine, I’m able to go out when the sun has fully risen and starting to warm up the day. The thing still gets done, and I’m more comfortable doing it. Also, it’s irresponsible to let your chickens free-range in the dark, lol.
  2. Seasons bring changes in weather, daylight, and your activities. Adapting your routine to these changes ensures that your daily schedule remains practical and effective year-round. You’ll notice that my workout routine included either a 30-minute treadmill walk or a 30-minute YouTube video. That’s not what I do in the spring and summer. When it’s warm early in the morning, I workout outside with no screens. Winter for us also means the end of marching season, meaning we have more free-time to be at home or see friends and family. That’s a massive change in activity from one season to the next.
  3. Routine brings predictability and order to your day. This can reduce stress and anxiety by eliminating the uncertainty of what to do next. I don’t do the exact same tasks in my business every single day, but knowing when my structured business hours are gives me a sense of peace that the most important things will get done during those hours and not at unpredictable times of the day.

As a homemaker in business, I know winter can be a challenging season, but with these routine hacks, you can start to find a rhythm that works for you. A routine that gives you maximum productivity and time for rest is one that’s going to hopefully make you like winter and your family more. I say that as a person that historically does not like winter. I like sunshine and warmth and being in the garden and going to the beach and just being outside. In the past, I have struggled with winter because of the extra darkness, lack of life in the garden, and extra time spent indoors. But I’ve come to recognize it as a season of slowness, rest, and inwardness. So I make extra time in my day for activities that only make sense in winter for me, like puzzles, movie marathons, organizing my kitchen drawers and pantry, reading books, and even sleeping a little extra.

I so hope this episode was helpful to you. I hope it helps you create a better winter routine that works for you and your family. I hope it inspires you to give journaling a try. I hope it helps you to look more positively at winter if you’re someone who has had a negative relationship with it in past seasons. And I hope you have a great rest of your day.

I’m Stephanie, but you can call me Steph!

I design brands & websites that get you butterflies-in-your-stomach-excited about your business again.

Simply put, I’m a graphic designer that specializes in brand identity design and Showit website design - arguably the most important aspects of your business! I live in central Alabama with my high school band directing hubby, Thomas, on our modest homestead in the country.

Grab a cup of cold coffee (be honest, do you ever get to drink it hot?) and let’s chat about your biz needs at my virtual kitchen table


Cleveland, Alabama, USA
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