Are you benefiting from a routine?

Anybody with children knows how important a routine is for them. Ignore their nap time and you’ll have a grouchy kid for the rest of the day. In the past, routines were ridiculed as taking the spontaneity or creativity out of something. These days, more and more people are recognising the benefits of routines.

The benefits have been widely described as:

  • A routine will save you time and energy. Just like a habit, it reduces your stress. Gretchen Rubin from the Happiness Project explained in Live Happy how draining the decision making process is. Having a routine in place, you are using your time wisely and will gain more time for the activities which matter to you.
  • Mark Zuckerberg was asked why he’s wearing the same grey shirt every day. As he explained in a Q&A session, decisions “make you tired and consume your energy.” Silly and frivolous things in his life should not take up this energy, hence, he opted for the same outfit.
  • Following on from this, a routine simplifies your life. Every decision that you don’t have to make is already a win for you. Often, our routines don’t require a lot of effort. Like a habit, we’re following them already and a routine just brings a bit more structure to it. Like automatically transferring part of your pay check into your savings account (remember, pay yourself first!), a routine will become automatic and you “start performing them without realising it” according to Dr Heidi Grant Halvorson.
  • A routine provides security in an uncontrollable world and provides a connection between people, as Michele Happe identified. Think of your regular trips to the coffee shop. You’ll get to know other visitors coming at the same time as you are on that particular day.
  • Finally, we become more relaxed. We don’t have to make that decision. We don’t have to stress about it. We can just enjoy the moment and be more balanced. A more balanced person is thus more in touch with their own creativity. A routine no longer stands contradictory to creativity. Bring out the paint brush!

When creating your routine, Marty Nemko suggests to ask yourself some questions:

  1. What do I want to make time for? What do you value?
  2. What stressful activities do I have in a typical day? Identify the most stressful one.
  3. What can routine can I create to make it less stressful?
  4. Are there any activities which will need to be moved? For example, you may enter your office and read your emails first. Instead of focussing on your project, you’re now stuck with answering trivial emails. It’d be better to concentrate on your project for the first hour in the office and then decide time to read and reply to emails.

What’s your routine during the week and on the weekend? Do they differ? Share how you’re spending your time.

Until next time,

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