We started our series on organisation last week by looking at how by living simply we can avoid stress. This week we move into looking at some of the reasons why routines help us organize our lives. In an earlier post on routines , one of the comments that came through was routines tend to get boring. Whereas this assertion may have some truth, the advantages of having routines far out weigh the disadvantages associated with them.
In its simplest definition, routines can be described as the little but important activities that make up our lives. We rely on them to get us through what we have to do each day. In the paragraphs that follow, I share some of the advantages of having a routine.
1. Routines Help Us to Achieve Results
Recently, I read about the routine of Olympic gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps. Apparently, he not only follows a particular routine at the start of every race but also, his coach Bob Bowman gave him a routine called “watching the video tape”. There is no actual video tape involved all that Micheal does is visualize in exquisite detail the perfect race from the moment of his starting position on top of the blocks through each stroke until he emerges from the pool victorious with water dripping off his face.
Michael goes through this routine every night before he goes to sleep and first thing when he wakes up. During training when his coach wants to push him all he yells is “put in the video tape” and this propels Michael to work harder. Obviously this routine has produced results given the performances Michael has put up over the years.
2. Routines Help Us Achieve More in Less Time
One of my goals this year is to read at least a book every month. With all the roles that I have this goal was seeming almost impossible for me. I read a lot of personal and professional development books and most of them require that I concentrate. Determined not to let this goal fall through, I set for my self a target to read for 15 – 20 minutes each morning after I have done my devotions. You will not believe but focusing for these minutes is enabling me to achieve my goal.
Not only this, I have a set menu for breakfast for each day of the week. In addition to breakfast I have to pack our son lunch. Waking up and only having to remember what day of the week it is helps me to ensure that I prepare breakfast in the shortest time possible as well as pack school lunch and snacks.
3. Routines Help Us to Avoid Decision Fatigue
Research has shown that having the right routines helps avoid decision fatigue by freeing up mental space to concentrate on new things. When you have developed routines, you are able to work in autopilot and execute the essential activities while at the same time, engaging in another activity without sacrificing your level of focus. We have all heard about how some executives in Silicon Valley like Mark Zuckerberg wear the same colour of clothes so they do not have to add another activity to their busy schedules.
I read about a CEO who has designated different activities for each day of the week in a bid to avoid routine fatigue . I have taken a leaf from him and done the same for myself. For example, we do laundry twice a week, I work out three times a week and therefore prefer to have meetings outside the home on days when I am not working out.
4. Routines Help Us Avoid Getting Overwhelmed
With all the things that are competing for our attention everyday, one is bound to get overwhelmed. However, when you take time to set up a routine and follow it, it makes life doable. Your routine could consist of ensuring that you spend the first hours of your day having breakfast with your family because you will not have control of your time once you step into the office. You can also put in place a routine of when you will check and respond to email so that you do not spend your day putting out fires and failing to do any meaningful work.
Which ever way you choose to make use of routines to organize your life, what is important to remember is with routines in order to get big results start small and allow the routine to grow into a habit. Without a doubt, routines are gifts that keep on giving because they allow us to achieve more by doing less.
Next week we shall look at how small actions produce big results when we organise our finances.
The Organisation Series
4 Reasons To Have Routines In Your Life (You are here)