Routines are the foundation of success. Check out a blog post, TED talk, or a recent book written by someone you admire and you’ll find that they have one, and that they encourage others to have one.
But not all routines are created equal.
In my first year of college, I woke up around 9am. That was super early for me. I usually ate a very sugary breakfast, threw on whatever clothes I could find on the floor, and then stumbled into my first class which was around 10am.
For lunch, which was at a different time every day, I would have a Cliff bar or something cheap like french fries from a fast food joint on campus. Then I would finish my classes, go home and cook dinner with my boyfriend (now husband), and then stay up until 2am doing homework while watching movies. And eating cookies or candy.
I would take forever to fall asleep and wake up groggy the next morning, as late as possible, and do it all again.
This was a routine (it was consistent, after all!) but it wasn’t a routine that supported my success.
Habits are just that: habits! Whether they serve you or not depends on if they are intentional, and what the results are. A routine isn’t good if it’s not a good routine. If you have a routine of drinking 5 glasses of wine each night when you get off work, that’s not supporting anyone except your local wine dealer.
I wake up at 7am to the sounds of my husband and son leaving for school downstairs. I stretch, exercise, and shower. I make my bed. I pick out what to wear from my konmari drawers and closet. I feed the cat.
I get in the car at 8:15am. I’m at my desk at 8:45am, eating yogurt and answering tickets. I do high impact, low effort tasks first.
I catch up on Support Driven while eating my home made lunch. I work on other projects after lunch, like updating the knowledge base or having meetings. I stretch again.
I get my son from school at 2:30pm and then go home and work the rest of the day there. My son does his homework, plays, and has his screen time. We eat a snack.
Daddy comes home around dinner time, and all screens are turned off for the night. We all eat together. We clean up the kitchen and the living room together.
We all brush teeth. I pack a lunch for myself and for my kid. He goes to bed at 8pm and we go to bed at 9pm. I stretch again.
My husband and I read books and spend time together until lights out at 10pm.
It took me years to figure out that a routine this simple could help me feel calm, rested, and focused each day. When my bed is made, I remember to get my lunch from the fridge. When I don’t spend money eating out, I’m more thrifty when considering other purchases. When my clothes are neatly folded, I am more likely to exercise. And when I stretch regularly, I don’t have pain in my body and I can be more productive at work. It’s all connected (some obviously and some not-so-obviously).
“How you do something is how you do everything” has become my mantra. And it has lead to more productive days, better sleep, and a cleaner home. I’ve found that if I don’t do something with intention, then whatever is easiest will happen on its own. And as Dumbledore once said, “….there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”
And that time is right now… every day.
Good routines help by making those good decisions for you. They’re more likely to happen when they happen at the same time every day. You run up against less mental roadblocks when it’s happening on auto-pilot. You can set yourself up for success by making the right thing to do the normal thing to do!