A routine provides the path in which habits are built. Creating a personalized routine will consist of a set of habits that you’ve formed over time and together will make up your routine.
But routines are boring and I’m a spur of the moment kind of person. I have enough of a routine already working my 9-5 job. I don’t have time for a routine! – These are all excuses.
You may think routines are mindless and boring, but they will provide you with the time to do what you actually enjoy. Just having to get to work for 9 am every morning is not a routine. And if you don’t think you have time for a routine, that’s the most important reason to start one. A routine will help you manage your time, work more efficiently and save your mental energy for more pressing tasks.
I have read a lot about habits and routines of professional athletes, business leaders, and successful entrepreneurs. After testing different theories and practices I’ve found what works best for me. But don’t be fooled, as much effort as it takes to build a routine, it’s fragile and can be broken. It’s easy to succumb to outside distractions and cave to guilty pleasures. Although with perseverance and self-discipline you’ll be able to create lasting routines, which will have a positive impact throughout your life.
What Is A Routine?
A routine is a set of habits that have become mechanical and require little thought to engage in. Think of brushing your teeth or driving a car. After years of driving you don’t get into your vehicle and think, “Ok, the brake is on the left and gas is on the right” at least I hope not for the local drivers in your area…
A routine will give structure to your day, and remove unnecessary decisions where you can focus your mental energy on more important tasks. I’m sure you’ve heard of or at least noticed that some of the successful people always wear the same clothes?
Mental energy to make decisions is limited and the less decisions you make, the more mental energy you’ll have to focus on what’s important. That is why Mark Zuckerberg is seen wearing the same classic grey t-shirt and jeans every day (sweater optional).
The same can be said about willpower. Willpower is a finite source and the more you exert it, the less you’ll have, to say no to distractions. That’s why late night infomercials have received so much success or why it’s easier to eat ice cream right out of the tub before bed rather than at lunch…
Learn to conserve your willpower by creating a positive environment free of distractions. If you have a guilty pleasure for a certain food, buy it on occasion rather then keeping it fully stocked in the fridge. Working from home? Make your bed so you don’t feel like climbing back in after an hours’ work. Become self-aware of when you exert willpower and take steps to avoid it.
“We can ignore temptations when they’re not immediately available, but once they’re right in front of us we lose perspective and forget our distant goals.” ― Roy F. Baumeister, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength
That said, a routine will help you save mental energy and willpower, letting you focus on the more important things in your day.
How To Form A Routine?
Through practice and self-discipline. There is no way around it. You’ll have to commit to building good habits that will make up your routine and practice them on a regular basis. The challenge is to consistently apply these habits until they become, well habitual!
Learning how to replace old habits with new ones, is the first step in creating your routine. You might not realize it, but you already have some sort of daily routine. You eat the same foods for breakfast, take the same route to work and might even eat lunch at the same table. People like routines because they are familiar with them and require little work. Although it will take a conscious effort to change the way you do things, which will now become your new routine.
Creating your routine will help you become more productive and maximize your day. One important factor in forming a routine is managing what you do with your time. Don’t waste effort trying to control time, it’s impossible. No matter what you do, it just keeps on ticking!
Plan on managing the time you have to do what most important. Sounds logical, but if you’ve ever asked yourself “where did the day go?”, you know what I’m talking about. A routine will help you manage your time efficiently. Routines that take place throughout the day are sometimes more difficult. Not everyone’s day follows a regular schedule.
Morning & Evening Routines
Creating morning and evening routines are optimal. You’ll have a better chance to manage your time and tend to be in the same place. As you build a morning routine it will become mindless, wake up at the same hour, drink a glass of water, read or work out, grab breakfast etc. You can do this in your morning daze without thought or worry. The less you spend thinking about your routine, the more mental energy and willpower you’ll have throughout the day.
“If you win the morning, you win the day” – Tim Ferriss, 4 hour work week
The same can be said about an evening routine. Follow certain habits before bed to get a good nights rest, which happens to be the most important factor to starting your day off right. I have an alarm that goes off when I should start my evening routine and it helps keep me on track for a good morning.
A daily routine can drastically change your mindset and only takes a little bit of effort. Implement at least one habit for each of These Three Elements to maximize the benefits in each area of your life. Over time you’ll find what works best for you on your quest for success and living the life you want to lead.