Routines can help or they can hurt. You currently have a routine. It may not be a pre-established system you consider routine, but humans are creatures of habit and even the spontaneous person has consistent behaviors that affect the speed and flow of the day.
A routine is doing tasks regularly or with a repeated nature. You brush your teeth, get ready, eat breakfast, pay the bills, walk the dog, call your mom. Maybe not always in the same order, but you have behavior and tasks you do on a regular basis. You read the same online articles and pour creamer in the cup before the coffee. You have a routine rooted deep within you. It’s just more apparent in those of us who are Type A.
There is a misconception that if you have a routine, that means you do the exact same thing in the same order and always get the same results. When people ask The Proper Place to help them build a routine, they are usually asking for an equation to create more organization. But what they need to identify before creating “routine” is what they think a routine will achieve. My theory is: they want to know what needs to be accomplished and how to do it so they are set up for a healthy day. Routine.
Routine is consistency, not being a robot of repetition.
If you deny that you have routine, then it may be hurting you without realizing it. If you know you have a routine, it could still be hurting you if it’s not efficient.
The question to consider: Is your routine helping or hurting you?
Routines are formulated, often times subconsciously, from two main things: habits and experiences.
Habits are doing the same behavior over and over until it’s essentially involuntary. New habits are more difficult to implement. Old habits are traditionally more difficult to break. The habits we have build the routine in our daily lives. If you have a habit of getting up early, that affects the number of moments in your day without the noise of children. If you have a habit of not opening the mail, it creates late fees. Whether it’s a positive or negative affect doesn’t matter at this point, it’s recognizing that your habits are shaping your routine.
Experiences that we have in life affect the nature of our routines. As children we are taught certain ways of doing things and as we grow up we have good and bad situations that shape how and why we do things the way we do. Our behaviors are impacted by experiences and therefore affect the routines we create. For some of us, it may take years of therapy to realize experiences have affected our subconscious, but they definitely are impacting your actions in some manner.
I recently helped care for my niece and nephews for a weekend, and I had a very clear picture of routine being shaped by experiences. The scrambled eggs I made for breakfast weren’t eaten because there was too much white in them. And when we got ready for bed, I asked them to brush their teeth before putting pajamas on, and that wasn’t how they did things. “PJ’s first, then teeth brushing, Aunt Shellie.” Duh! The three-year old couldn’t believe I’d consider doing it another way. He doesn’t even realize he has routine! And that’s why our subconscious can be creating a routine for us without us realizing it.
If we recognize that habits and experiences are impacting our routine, then those are the places to start looking at if you want to reboot or fine tune your routine. So, is your routine getting in your way? Consider:
Do you have a routine?
We already established you do whether you are intentional about it or not, but it’s good for you to identify what that may be. Acceptance is the first step in any process, right?
How are my habits + experiences shaping my current routine?
Try to take a look from the outside to identify these things. Consider if someone came to your house worked alongside you, what would be the things they’d see you doing.
What part of my day do I get off track?
Consider where you are feeling stuck and where your days get snagged. For most people it’s going to be at the beginning or the end of the day, or in a transitional period, such as going from work to picking up the kids at school.
When I’m feeling off track, what is happeing in my routine?
Remember it could be subconscious actions or intentional poor habits.
Is this routine getting in the way of having a productive and fulfilling day?
If the answer is yes, get out of your own way by establishing some new habits and experiences to shape your routine. There is more to a routine than creating step by step actions. It’s about recognizing and improving the behavior and being intentional about the subconscious that could be getting in your way. We are after all, creatures of routine.
Is your routine getting in your way?