(of an action) arising from convention or habit.
Routine is important because it gives structure & direction to your days. When you have work that has to be done, the routine easy and provided for you. What happens in your free time when you don’t have anything pressing to get done? What do you do? Routine is the framework that your days, weeks, months, and years are built upon.
I’m not saying you will only ever have a single routine. Routines change with you as you grow, realize who you are, what you want to do, and what you are meant to do. You add and take away pieces of your routine. Some pieces may stay forever, others only a short time. Your routine drives the things you get done, your goals, your aspirations.
Let’s look at the most basic of routines. All of the things you have to fit into your day create the most basic of routines:
- Working or learning
The first 3 items will take up a good block of hours each day. Let’s say you sleep 8 hours a night work 8 hours a day and spend 2 hours total for breakfast (30 min), Lunch (30 min) and dinner (60 min). That leave you 6 hours a day during the week to do the things you want. That doesn’t seem like a whole lot does it. The routine you fit into those 6 hours is very important.
A routine that includes 2 hours of TV leaves you with 4 hours to accomplish your goals.
In addition, a routine with 1 hour of exercise cuts that down to 3 hours.
What are you going to do with those 3 hours? How are you going to spend them?
If you have to think about this, then you’re eating into those 3 hours. A routine is a tool you can use to waste less of this precious time. A routine isn’t necessarily a prescribed set of steps you take or the same tasks you do every day. It certainly can be, and part of it will be – check email, do laundry, brush teeth – it is also the way you go about things. Let me explain.
There are things you have to or want to get done each day. Those things fall into certain categories – work, play, necessities – the way you approach each of these things can be part of your routine. When it comes to work, I work from home, so I have a specified work spot in my house that is for work only. When I’m there, I’m working. When it comes to play, I’m not in my work spot. This kind of “routine” helps me to separate from and not be distracted by the work things. Saving me time from distractions that would be caused by being in the context of work when I wan to play.
Knowing what you need to do, want to do, and their priority should be a part of your routine. Use some sort of system to capture your need tos, want tos, and plans so you can turn them into explicit tasks. The system doesn’t matter, the tools don’t matter, as long as you can trust both of them. When I say trust I mean you are comfortable knowing the things you put into your system will be there for you when you come back to your system. You also know that you’ll be reminded of the high priority things and when they need to get done.
I’m not going to get into the system or I use to keep track of my things. I’m also not going to outline my routine. Partly because I don’t want to prescribe anything, but mostly because I want to hear what your routines are. Routines are so important that I’m sure you have some even if you don’t realize it. Take a minute and let me know in the comments.