In a world where there is always something to do and someone to see, a routine can make you feel like you're missing out on an opportunity. It may make you feel like you're boring or that you'll always be stuck doing the same things. The truth is, routine is one of the most important tools you can use to transform yourself into a grounded individual who is able to create a life you love.
Everyday life depends on your routines. It's what makes your sleeping habits, if you go to the gym and eat healthy, if you have a good work-life balance, and helps shape the relationships you have with others. In order to create healthy routines, you have to make them easy to follow. For example, if you tend to have a poor sleep routine, you may notice that you're frequently late to work, groggy, and irritable. One way you could help establish the routine of a more healthy sleep schedule could be to set the alarm for when you need to stop watching TV. Once you've got that routine down, you can set the alarm for when you want to be in bed. The cue of the alarm will help you create a more healthy schedule and make it easy to follow. If you want to include journaling in your schedule, make it easy to do by setting your journal out on your desk and having it open to a blank page with a pen. The visual cue of your journal will bring you that much closer to taking the time to do it. If establishing your routine is difficult to accomplish, you're less likely to continue doing it long-term.
If you find that it's difficult for you to stick with your routines, make it burdensome to do what you're used to. For example, if you find that you spend too much time scrolling through social media, delete the app on your phone. If you need to, you could even put a block for the apps on your phone so that the only way for you to look at social media is if you log in on your laptop. This will prevent you from spending too much time in front of the screen and force you to make a conscious decision on what you'd like to do at that moment. If you're looking to save money, grab only a small hand basket at the store rather than a cart to avoid spending money on items you don't need. Perhaps you're looking to eat healthier and cook dinner after work; you could put your snacks on a high shelf that requires a stool to reach in order to avoid eating excess calories and will encourage you to make a proper meal.
"The central idea is to create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as possible. Much of the battle of building better habits comes down to finding ways to reduce the friction associated with our good habits and increase the friction associated with our bad ones." (Clear, 155)
Timing is everything with routine. If you go for a half-mile walk within thirty minutes of waking up, begin making dinner by 6:30 every night, and if you wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, it will be easy to do it all the time. You will learn to anticipate your next moves and will allow for little to no room to stray away from them. If you have to think about if you're going for a walk, you may talk yourself out of it. If you always go for a walk, then it becomes second nature, and you'll begin to do it automatically. Once you create a routine that you're happy with, you'll begin to notice that you have a lot more free time. This extra time and emotional energy are because you didn't have to think about when to wake up for work, what time to take the dog for a walk, or when to make yourself food. Now, you're accomplishing your goals and may even find yourself a happier individual because of it.
Using routine to your advantage will set you up for success, and it will become easier to accomplish the goals you set for yourself. Take some time to think about the kind of person you want to be; perhaps you want to be more punctual, social, or organized. Keep your goals in mind for what you want to accomplish in the future, like building your own company or reading a book every month. Once you have your goals established, you can begin to build a routine that helps you make those dreams a reality. After all, the routines that you create are what make you the person you want to be.
Clear, James. Atomic Habits. New York, New York, Penguin Random House, 2018.