Are you the type of person that struggles to grasp the concept of routine? Here’s everything you need to know.
In the movie Groundhog Day (if you haven’t seen this yet, then go do that right away!), Phil (the protagonist) finds that he is in a sort of a time warp, living the same day over and over again. There’s a scene in which Phil talks to a local at the bar.
Phil: What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same, and nothing you did mattered?
Ralph: That about sums it up for me.
In a way, even though Ralph wasn’t literally living the same day over and over again (like Phil was), he was still doing the same things over and over, day in and day out. Ralph was stuck in routines that didn’t matter.
Having a Daily Routine
My younger self hated routine. I hated discipline and I didn’t understand the reason why rules existed or why they were being imposed on me. Admittedly, in retrospect, they were in part being imposed because of some tyrannical desire of the enforcer.
But, a tiny part of me knew that there was also the possibility that routine exists because it instills in you, some kind of responsibility. But, no, it wasn’t for me. I detested routine so vehemently and I hid that fact so cleverly.
Then I grew up. Being an adult is tough. It’s tough because you don’t have a routine being imposed on you anymore, unless you’re well, in prison, in which case you don’t really have a choice. But otherwise, you are free to do exactly as you please.
People will tell you to break out of routine and do exciting things that challenge you. And while this may sound good, it is not necessarily always a good thing.
The Disadvantage of Routines
Routine makes you forget why you are doing what you do. “Practice” might make perfect what I can tell you (from personal experience), it also makes for a loss of passion.
And this can be incredibly harmful, both personally and professionally (We talked about this in Dealing with disillusionment in tech).
The Advantages of Routines
The trouble with growing up, as I soon discovered, was that I had gotten so accustomed to sticking to a routine that I didn’t know what it was like to work without one. This is a problem creatives face almost every day.
Creativity isn’t supposed to be work and creatives are generally not too happy with sticking to a schedule. Often, it actually becomes difficult to channel creativity, which is inherently spontaneous, into work, which is almost everything but.
Working for a software firm now, I often like to relate the process of software development to the process of writing a story.
It’s almost like magic, when all the different pieces finally fall together and you have a finished product that you can be proud of.
This is why it requires just as much creativity and out-of-the-box thinking as say, a designing/writing job, if one has to be a truly accomplished programmer.
6 Great Ways to Stick to Your Daily Routine
Now coming to the crux of why you need routine, I will sum it up in the following words – Being creative and innovative is not sufficient. You also need to get things done.
Here are 6 great ways to set a good routine and stick to it.
1. Define Your Routine
And in order to get things done, you need to have a process. Every individual would do well to develop a process that works well for them.
If you’re a leader, instill that sense of process in your team members. A good routine could well be the difference between simply talking about things, and actually getting out there and accomplishing them.
2. Have A Cheat Day
What I’m trying to say is: don’t stick to your routine.
I probably sound like I’m contradicting myself here but I’m not. Once you have found a process that works for you, make sure you set aside a day of the week on which you don’t stick to your routine.
Put aside that one day to do things differently or do different things. You never know! You might find a new way to do things. And you might even find something, to work on, that you had never really considered significant before.
3. Have A Pre-Routine
Before you actually start your routine, do something that doesn’t challenge you much. For me, the beginning of the day is when I read up on the latest articles or any news bits in tech that I might have missed.
It takes little to no effort to get started on this, but because I have mentally included it to be part of my routine, I can be prepared for what I have to do next.
4. Don’t Play the Blame-Game
Procrastination is our worst enemy. I have spent ages procrastinating, when I should have been working, and eventually blaming someone else for my lack of results.
Having a routine makes you aware of what you didn’t get done, and consequently puts the ownership of your work entirely in your hands.
I’ve found that it’s easier for me to assess my performance if I have set aside some benchmarks for what I expect of myself.
No one else can do that for you. Make yourself accountable for your work.
5. Calendars & To-do Lists
Use a to-do list for one-off activities and schedule your recurring activities on Google Calendars. The best part about Calendars are the pop-ups and notifications that make sure you don’t forget to get something done.
When you’re reminded/told to do something, there’s a greater chance that you’ll actually do it.
6. Eliminate Hindrances
A new routine is difficult to stick to and often you’ll find yourself faced with distractions that can lead you astray. What you can do is examine your routine and identify those exact moments where you feel like things are going south.
Once you pay more attention to the difficult bits, it makes it easier for you to stick to a routine as a whole.
To sum up, routine is an important part being able to consistently put all your effort and focus on your dreams.
Which is why adopting the habit of a good daily routine is something you definitely need to do. As you get into that habit, you’ll find it harder to get out of.
Here’s a recap on 6 great ways to stick to your daily routine:
- Define your routine
- Have a cheat day
- Have a pre-routine
- Don’t play the blame game
- Calendars and to-do lists
- Eliminate hindrances