A Defense of Routines

This was going to be part of my book project, which is on indefinite hold since life circumstances changed so dramatically.


Routines sometimes get a bad rap.  They’re boring, lack spontaneity, show that one is not living in the moment.  Those thoughts on routines need to go away, though.  Routines are necessary to give you the structure you need to complete all the things you don’t want to do but need to do, as well as give you time to do all the things you actually want to do.  During busy times, routines can provide that anchor that lets you get through it all.

The two most important routines to get into are when you go to bed (for real, no staying up watching YouTube videos on your phone) and when you get up (for real, not staying in bed watching YouTube videos on your phone).  Everything else will be harder if you’re not getting proper sleep or you have an erratic sleep cycle.  Events will happen that interfere with your sleep cycle, but get back to normal as soon as possible.  If you need extra sleep, try taking a nap in the middle of the day.

Eating at similar times every day is also a crucial routine.  Eating a healthy meal, perhaps the same meal every day at the same times is the way to go.  There is no universal perfect time to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner, but keeping them all at the same time is necessary to maintain a good routine.  Snacks are the same way.  Schedule your snack an appropriate time every day, so you won’t have to think about it (and you don’t graze all day on snacks).

Eating and sleeping are necessary.  So is your job, but for most people, the job is already scheduled out for you.  So work, eating, and sleeping are the bare minimum you need to develop a routine for.  Doing fun things is just as important to develop a routine for.  Set aside time for reading, listening to music, spending, um, quality time with your loved one, watching movies, or playing video games.   Don’t put it off.  If you schedule your reading for 8pm to 9pm, drop what you’re doing at 8 and go read your book.  When people think of routines, again, they usually think of all the things they don’t like to do, but routines make it easier to do all the things you find fun to do.

The easiest way to build out a routine is to, no surprise here, break the process down into a series of steps.  First, spend seven to ten days going to bed at the same time.  Then, add a wake up time to your routine for the next seven to ten days.  Keep all this in your calendar.  Getting your eating routine is next, and a two step process.  First, set the times and get into that routine.  Then choose the foods you will eat as a routine.  It takes time to build out routines, and getting these basics down will make it easier for all the other routines you need to insert into your life.  

Routines will add structure and time to your life.  Building a routine is not an “in the moment” kind of way to live, but you’ll do more living when you do.

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