The Value of a Routine
March 21, 2022 · by Regina Felty
I used to know someone who hit the snooze button two or three times every morning before jumping out of bed ten minutes before they had to be out the door for work. They’d spend the commute growling at all the slow drivers on the road while pounding down an untoasted Pop-Tart, only to arrive at work and find they’d left their lunch and the laptop they needed at home. Most mornings went like that. When asked how her goals were going, she would say, “I can’t get anything accomplished! I’m so busy all the time!’
Procrastination, lack of discipline, disorganization . . . shall I go on?
Oh, by the way, that person was me.
I say was as if it never happens anymore, but that’s not true. However, it’s a rare occasion rather than the norm. It’s not that I wasn’t organized before. I planned my life out beautifully on paper, complete with color-coded priorities and tidy checkboxes. But a well-planned life is voided if you keep defaulting to not following – you know – the plan.
I love using planners. I have a main planner for everything from daily expenses and prayer requests to doctor appointments and life goals. I also have a separate business planner and another one for outlining my writing projects. I even watch reels of other people planning!
But that does me no good without consistent actions behind all that effort.
My alarm is set for 5:30 a.m. on weekdays and I no longer hit the snooze button. I start the day with Bible reading and prayer. Sometime that morning, I pull out my main planner and look over what I have on the day’s agenda, spend a few moments writing a journal entry, etc. I prepare my lunch the night before and pull out my clothes for the next day. My goal is to feel better about how I start my day and to be more relaxed. Why is all this important?
One word: Routine.
Brianna Wiest sums it up best in her article, The Psychology of Daily Routine:
“In short, routine is important because habitualness creates mood and mood creates the “nurture” aspect of your personality, not to mention that letting yourself be jerked around by impulsiveness is a breeding ground for everything you essentially do not want."
The scripture, “. . .the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do (Romans 7:19)” applies perfectly here. God knows our human nature is undisciplined and subject to impulsiveness. And succumbing to those impulses is what leaves us feeling unproductive . . . and stressed out.
You may not agree. Maybe you’re a “free spirit” who lives in the moment and lets life come at you however the cards fall. Those moments might provide instant gratification but often do not provide long-term satisfaction.
A momentary thrill with little to no forward momentum.
If being over-structured and chained to a routine goes against your nature, it’s still possible to create a routine that doesn’t smother you. Start with scheduling “free time” in your routine. Do what must be done, then do something fun (that rhymes!).
The objective is consistency so that your brain comes to anticipate an event. With a routine established, getting off-track will prompt a nudge to your conscience. It’s your body’s gift to you, saying, “Hey, aren’t you supposed to be doing something right now?”
Children also thrive on routines–at school and at home. Don’t believe it? Try changing up their favorite cereal or sending them to bed an hour earlier. (Oh, was that just my kid? Hmm . . .) Employees, and even your pets, benefit from routines. Routines create expectancies and norms instead of the constant frustration over facing a flood of choices about how to manage your time. There’s something liberating about greeting each day with an established plan. Not having to fuss with all the minor decisions leaves you with the energy to face the major ones.
And, if your routine includes sleeping in on weekends and cleaning the house in your pj's, more power to you! Happy planning!
Wiest, Brianna. “The Psychology of Daily Routine.” Thoughtcatalog.Com, 2 Feb. 2022, thoughtcatalog.com/brianna-wiest/2015/10/the-psychology-of-daily-routine-7-reasons-why-people-who-do-the-same-things-each-day-tend-to-be-happier-than-those-who-chase-adventure.