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The Importance of a Routine

Over the past several months my counselling hours and days have changed a number of times. I'm very happy that the start of September has seen me settle into a more permanent set schedule with me now being full time with my private practice. This has got me thinking about how much I love routine. When I'm not in a fixed routine I definitely feel more 'all over the place', anxious (even paranoid I'm going to forget something, so check my diary much more often I really need to), stressed and overwhelmed.

We're all probably aware that children need a routine to provide structure and discipline in their lives. When we were younger, most of us were told to go to bed at a certain time, do our homework after school, eat dinner at a regular hour, bath, even play with our friends at a specific time. As the summer holidays come to an end I expect a lot of parents will be grateful to be back into the routine of school days!

But what about adults? I can't imagine how many grownups do not have a set daily routine and ‘wing’ their day. They have no idea what they are going to do when they wake up each morning because they have not thought about creating a schedule to stick to. As a result, many people (like me recently) feel like they are stressed, anxious, overwhelmed and falling short of their goals and true potential. The answer lies in carefully designing a routine that works best for each of us, one which helps us be productive, in control, and be the best person we can possibly be.

I remember how my Mum encouraged me to have a routine when I first son was born. I used to view having a routine as being boring, rigid, and stifling, and I know that many people share this view. I have learned that designing and adhering to a personal daily routine is the path to freedom, productivity, happiness, and fulfilling our true potential.

Here is why most of us would be better off with a more set routine:

1. Makes Us More Efficient

When we have a routine that we follow daily, it reduces the need to make decisions each day. It enables us to know exactly what tasks we need to do each day without having to contemplate, decide or think too much. When we are finished with one task, we know what comes next without much thought. Activities become standardised and we become more efficient as a result. 2. Reduces Our Need to Plan

When we carefully design a set routine to follow, it eliminates the need to plan our activities every morning and budget and allocate our precious time. It takes the guesswork out of our day and allows us to wake up and ‘do’ instead of wake up and ‘plan’.

3. Creates Structure in Our Lives

A daily routine provides structure and a logical sequence in our lives. It provides the framework within which we live our lives and conduct our daily activities. Soon we become familiar and comfortable with what we have to do each day. It allows us to experience a flow to our day.

4. Saves Time, Our Most Valuable Resource

Time is the most precious asset at our disposal because, once lost, it is non-retrievable. By following a routine, we free up time that would otherwise be spent on planning, decision-making and preparation. Our routine has predetermined our schedule, allowing us to use our time efficiently.

5. In-stills Good Habits

The secret to building good habits is repetition. When we design a personal routine that works for us, it facilitates developing good habits by encouraging us to repeat the same tasks over and over again. Just like brushing our teeth every morning, adhering to a routine allows us to foster habits that match our goals and aspirations. 6. Breaks Bad Habits

While our routine helps us develop good habits that are in line with exploiting our full potential, it also helps to eradicate bad habits that do not serve us well. We can slowly replace our bad habits with good ones through repetition.

7. Helps Us Become More Proficient

When you have a routine, you start to become better at doing certain things because you do it regularly. That is one of the keys to mastering any skill. Think about something you are skilful at. More likely than not, you developed your skill because you have performed the task over and over again. Practice makes perfect!

8. Helps Us Get the Most Important Tasks Done

When we carefully design a personal routine and stick to it, it allows us get the most important things done first and out of the way. There is no room for forgetfulness or neglect. Because the most important tasks have been predetermined by us, as long as we follow our routine, we know that we will complete what is important and not spend time and effort on frivolous things. 9. Prioritisation

The beauty of designing a set routine is that it forces us to prioritise and decide what is important to us. Rather than make these decisions on a daily basis, we already know what we need to do and in what order because we have carefully planned it.

10. Reduces the Need for Determination and Willpower

When we brush our teeth in the morning, it does not require a lot of determination or willpower because most of us have made it a daily ritual. We hardly think about having to brush our teeth; we simply do it. The same holds true for other tasks when we follow a routine. It simply becomes, well, ‘routine’!

11. Reduces Procrastination

When a set of tasks and activities become routine, it reduces the chance that we will procrastinate doing them. It becomes ingrained into our system and we almost do it subconsciously. For example, I have a couple of set mornings I do a walk on. I simply do them because it has become a habit. We all know that procrastination is a waste of time and having a routine is one way to combat it.

12. Builds Momentum

As we all know, when you do the same things repetitiously, it builds momentum, making it easier to persist. That is why going to the gym gets easier the more frequently you do it. Momentum is a huge factor when it comes to ensuring success and following a routine helps build that momentum.

13. Builds Self Confidence

When we adhere to a routine and stick with it, it helps build self confidence and gives us a sense of tremendous satisfaction. That provides us with the ‘fuel’ to continue our routine and reap the benefits associated with it. And a lack of self confidence is one of the main reasons people find it difficult to change their lives for the better.

14. Saves Us Money

When we follow a routine and do the same things over and over again, it can help us save money. For example, I do a planned menu and shop once a week. This helps cut down on food waste. The same holds true for many other things such as the cost of a long-term gym membership.

15. Helps Reduce Stress and Facilitate Relaxation

There will always be things in our lives that are beyond our control, and we need to accept that. However, there is so much that we can control, especially if we follow a routine. When we design and stick to a routine, it eliminates a lot of stress because we do not have to think and worry about what needs to get done. The act of ‘doing’ gives us a sense of control and helps us relax instead of fretting about the tasks at hand.

16. Frees Up Our Time

Contrary to what some people believe, following a routine that prioritises repetitive tasks actually provides us with more free time to do as we please. Not every aspect of our lives needs to be scheduled or incorporated into a daily routine. There is a time and place for leisure, relaxation, and ‘non-doing’, and adhering to a routine frees up the time for it. In fact, as we discussed before, our routine makes us become better and more efficient at performing certain tasks. This means that we often spend less time completing the tasks listed in our routine via repetition.

17. Helps Us Achieve Our Goals

Our goals and aspirations are rarely, if ever, achieved all at once. Successful people accomplish their goals by doing the same things over and over again. An athlete gets good at his sport because he practices daily. An artist hones his craft through repetition. Developing and sticking with a routine that is congruent with your goals is one of the surest ways to ensure success.

18. Keeping Track of Our Success

When we slack off and fail to follow our predetermined routine, it is a clear sign that we are falling short. It is an excellent way to monitor our progress. We can subsequently make adjustments and get back to following our personal routines while having the confidence that we are on the right track again.

Keep in mind that it is fine if you decide that you only want to follow your routine on weekdays and not on weekends, or if you have a different routine on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, etc. It is also perfectly okay to set aside certain times to do nothing. The point is that you have thought about it carefully and are mindful about your choices. After all, having a routine is nothing other than a conscious choice to live your life in a certain way through healthy repetition. It is one of the keys to success and happiness.

Each of us is different and has different goals, needs, desires, and resources. That is why it is important to develop our own routine after carefully deciding what we want to achieve in our lives. The rewards to be reaped are definitely worth the effort. Today is a brand new day and it is never too late to start your own routine.

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