“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle
As kids, most of us will have grown up with a sense of routine in our lives – getting up at a certain time, breakfast, the timetables at school, homework, mealtimes, bedtimes – it provided structure & discipline in our lives.
However outside working hours, many adults don’t have a daily routine – they have things that they do, or would like to do in the week such as exercise, personal growth time or other things, but they don’t make a structured plan to incorporate them into their regular life patterns. As a result, people may not honour their intentions and this can lead to feelings of under-achievement, frustration & anxiety as they fall short of their goals and true potential. The solution lies in thoughtfully creating a regular routine that includes space for all the things you want to do.
Personally, I create a timetable – such as I had a school – it shows the hours from the time I get up in the morning until I go to bed. I mark out blocks of time in my days for specific things – meditation, exercise, work, study, house work, friends & family time, food shop & prep, time windows for breakfast, lunch, evening meal, etc. You may think that this sounds a bit predictable, restrictive & boring but I have learned that creating & sticking to a personal daily routine is a path of success, wellbeing, productivity & happiness. It’s a very easy & pleasant way of becoming the best one can be!
I keep my timetable where I can see it regularly, it’s an A4 sheet and it’s colour coded for each area – work, exercise, social etc. I look at it regularly throughout the day so my conscious & subconscious mind have the imprint of the logic & flow of each day. I change it from time to time as needed. I also have an appointments diary for the precise details of my days, but the Timetable highlights my routines & habits. It helps with my sense of purpose and I find it very soothing.
Here are some benefits of a set routine:
Keeps our heads clear:
Committing to following a set routine reduces the need for decision making – when one activity is complete, we simply go onto the next without much thought.
By giving ourselves a start & finish time that we’re devoting to a task, it increases our focus & attention on the task and we’re less likely to stray onto doing other things – like social media scrolling for example.
It highlights your goals and helps you to become effective in achieving them. It enables you to take responsibility for yourself. You’re accountable to yourself.
It helps you to consistently keep on target and measure your progress in attaining your goals.
Gives us More Time:
It gives us more time as we don’t need to spend time planning out the day’s activities.
It creates structure in our lives & provides a logical sequence to meeting our targets.
It Makes it Easier to Learn:
Your mind & brain have an expectancy of what’s to come, so you can be in a relaxed state, and in a relaxed state we are more able to be open to learning new things. The brain learns through repetition & is always looking for patterns, therefore, you’re in an optimal state for absorbing new knowledge.
Gives a Sense of Purpose:
We’re creating strategic planning in our days to meet our goals.
It Instills Good Habits:
We repeat ways of being that are in alignment with our goals & desires, helping us to reach our potential.
Breaks Bad Habits:
Through repetition of good habits, it helps us to over-ride bad habits.
We Can Become More Proficient:
Repetition is a key learning aid because it helps transition a skill from the conscious to the subconscious, therefore through repetition a skill gradually becomes easier.
It helps us to become more mindful of what is most important to us and incorporate it into our routines.
Increases the Ability to Relax:
It creates clear parameters around the times you devote to doing a task, so when you schedule in relaxation, you can relax without feeling guilty!
Reduces the Need for Willpower:
Once we have committed to our routine, it becomes our ‘routine’ and we can accept it and adhere to it.
With the acceptance of our routine, we don’t have to think about our tasks and their order, we simply do them!
The familiarity & repetition & success of the routine builds on itself and it all starts to become easier.
Builds Self Confidence:
Being able to stick to the routine and embodying the success that comes from it can give us huge satisfaction & self pride.
Helps us Achieve our Goals:
Creating & adhering to a routine that is in alignment with our goals is a path of ensuring success.
Measuring our Success:
We can assess our success in reaching goals & targets & timeframes and make any necessary adjustments to the routine.
Getting up and going to bed at routine times, gets us into a rhythm that promotes sleep hygiene. Getting good sleep helps our mood. Irregular sleep patterns make us feel tired.
The sense of purpose & peace of mind that comes from having a routine, reduces anxiety, improves your self esteem and brain function.
Eating regularly & healthily contributes to overall good health in mind & body.
It may be that you only want to follow your routine on certain days – whatever works for you. Also life’s a continuum and things can change, so if you feel your routine needs to alter, then change it around. It’s not set in stone!
In conclusion, as you have read, having a routine is important, however be kind to yourself and don’t get distressed if you have trouble sticking to your own schedule. Having a routine can be very self-supportive in difficult times, but don’t stress yourself if you sometimes have to change your plans!
“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to your success is found in your daily routine.” John C. Maxwell