While doing the school run I met up with my friend, we both sighed as we said hello. We then talked about many things and one of them was the power routines have to make life easier as we perform our various roles.
Routines are things we do without thinking. They often require minimal engagement as they have been done over time and turned into habits. This is what differentiates them from rituals which tend to require our full engagement since they are symbolic and have meaning attached to them. For example, having dinner together as a family may be a routine while going out for a family picnic every 1st of the year could be a ritual.
According to Professor Michael McCollough of University of Miami, “once you have a routine in place, then the mental processes that make the behavior happen take place automatically.” Routines allow us to get the “urgent and important” things done while leaving us with enough time to plan and concentrate on the “not urgent but important” things in life.
Routines are so powerful and provide a sense of achievement and fulfillment because they help us to be productive. The discussion below considers some of the reasons why we need to build successful routines for our selves.
1. Routines provide structure for our lives.
With all the roles we have to deal with in life today, who would not want more structure in their life?. So you have made the decision that having dinner and maybe breakfast as a family is important to you. Why not go ahead and set up a meal plan that you can follow. I find that a set menu especially for breakfast works wonders. When you get into the habit of making the same things on specific days this ensures that you are efficient. The result is a family that is nourished and in most cases out of the door in one piece.
Without a doubt, the world is going to throw us surprises everyday. When you have specific routines in place, this naturally creates structure for you and makes it easier to deal with the other struggles of life. For example, after a hard day at work sitting at the table for dinner with family gives you more meaning for life and reminds you of the reasons why you are doing what you do.
2. Routines allow us to start our day on the right footing.
According to www.morning-routine.com,“the first ten minutes after we wake up are the most influential time on our subconscious mind and therefore the perfect time for us to use for a powerful routine”. When I read this, I was reminded of when I heard performance and life coach Tony Robbins talk about his “hour of power”. Robbins espouses that the first hour of our waking up is very important and what we use it for will determine what we become. He advises that we use it as follows “20 minutes praying or meditating, 20 minutes reading inspirational or motivating material & 20 minutes exercising”. Something else that he said that stayed with me was that “if you do the right thing at the wrong time, you do not get rewarded for it instead you get pain”. This is weighing heavily on my mind given the fact that although my morning routine includes praying and reading my Bible I do not exercise until after I have picked the children from school in the evening.
3. Routines are a precursor to achieving our dreams and goals.
I read somewhere that John Grisham who writes captivating legal thrillers started writing when he still had his 9 – 5 job. He set himself a target to write a page a day. Sometimes the page came quickly in 10 minutes but other days it took him hours to complete the page. Never the less he stayed with his routine and the rest like they say is history.
We all know that goals are set in three time frames the long, medium, and short term. The routines we put in place to achieve our short term goals will inevitably impact on our long term goals. In this regard, I have incorporated into my weekly routine the habit of using the “quadrant II tool of organizing ” . According to Stephen Covey organizing on a weekly basis is more effective since most activities are scheduled around the week. Similarly, planning weekly also gives one the freedom and flexibility to handle unanticipated events and if need be make the right adjustments. I find that this is helping me to be more effective, efficient and productive. I plan out my week on Sunday afternoon including the meals for the coming week. Due to the fact that I work from home this ensures that I concentrate on doing professional work when I have scheduled the time for it.
The list of the benefits of having routines could go on but a lot has already been written and said about the same. What is important however, is to note that the key to making routines work for you lies in developing Your Own routines and not just going with what has been suggested. We all have specific gifts and abilities that God has endowed us with. Success will only come when we cultivate routines that take into account these skills and abilities.
In addition to this, patience and persistence are paramount. Remember everything that we do is learnt. We are not born with a know how of doing things. Therefore take the time to learn! Research shows that it takes anywhere between 21 – 30 days for a routine to become a habit. I finish with what Ash Roy of www.lifehack.org advises us to do “you need to focus on turning your talents into skills through a consistent routine, and deliver them to the world in a way that makes massive impact. It will not be easy, nothing worthwhile ever is”.
Sharing is learning. Please share in the comments section some of the routines that you are currently using to help you function in your various roles.