Using Daily 'Time Menus' Can Help You Stick To A Routine And Build Habits

So, you just bought the cutest journal or planner, but you're not sure where to start. You love making to-do lists, but crossing things off is another story. Sound familiar? But struggling with organization doesn't mean you're lazy or lack willpower — you just haven't found what works for you. This is where time menus come into play. Get out your favorite colorful pens and try a new method of building habits and routines. 


The concept has gained online popularity thanks to TikToker Caroline Hardin, who has shared ways of implementing time menus into her life. Contrary to a strict to-do list, a menu is a categorized list of things you can do at the moment to help you have a better week overall. When you give yourself a menu of options, there's more freedom rather than expectation. This way, there's no guilt or feeling of failure if you don't do everything on the list because there's no expectation that you do it all. It's a gentler and more personalized way of getting things done. 

How to personalize your menu

The way you lay out your time menu is completely up to you, and there are several ways to go about it. Depending on what works best for you, you can use menus on a weekly or daily basis. You can make a weekday menu for your workweek, a weekend menu, a self-care menu, or all of the above. Menus can be particularly helpful while working from home, where there are lots of distractions.


In another video by Caroline, she shares her own Sunday menu that helps her get ready for the week ahead, like a Sunday reset. She writes down a short list of tasks she can do on a Sunday afternoon, like food prep, watering her plants, doing an hour of Monday's work, or spending time with family. A helpful tip: categorize the tasks into either low-energy or high-energy categories. We don't always know how we'll feel on a certain day, so this gives us different options depending on our mood and energy level.

If you struggle to take care of yourself on certain days, a self-care menu may help you out. In the clip, she talks about organizing her self-care menu into four boxes: body, space or room, digital, heart or mood. When she's feeling low, she chooses a few tasks from each box that will make her feel better. It's not about doing all of them; it's about feeling better. "If you did one thing, you've won," she says.


Treat it like a dinner menu

In a YouTube video, writer Jessica McCabe of How to ADHD suggests laying out your time menu like a dinner menu. Your "appetizers" give you a quick boost of energy and motivation, like listening to music or eating a snack. Then, there's the "entrée" or main courses that are more time consuming but fulfilling tasks — work, hobbies, or exercising. The "desserts" are arguably the most fun but often distracting tasks that we don't want to overindulge in, like watching Netflix or checking social media.


If you're feeling extra creative, you can include "sides" that are added to other tasks, like calling a friend while doing laundry. Your "specials" can be the things that cost a little more money or time, like vacations and concerts.

Not only do time menus help you prioritize your tasks and feelings, but they make productivity a lot more fun. We think it's time to ditch the old to-do list and create your own menu.