Routine is the insurance of a successful life of any kind.
I innately embraced routine and saw its benefits as early as first grade. For school, I had a simple evening routine of selecting my outfit for the next day, placing my school materials next to it, and packing my lunch.
My family teased me, calling me “The Little Grown-Up.” But I smiled inwardly every morning: While my days got off to a calm, good start, everyone else was always in crisis and upset, frantically searching for car keys and forgetting their jacket, wallet, or homework.
I soon realized an excellent routine wasn’t only essential to structure my day. As a teen, when faced with tasks that made me anxious, such as finding the best insurance for new drivers, I developed a routine that provided me with the resources I needed to accomplish my goals.
Since my love for routine created habits that gave me the strength to handle things I thought, I couldn’t and brought me successes that I had never anticipated. I want to dispel the stigma around routine and discuss how it can help you live a more intentional and creative life.
I’ll also share some examples of routines that you are welcome to try and see what brings you success.
Why does routine get a bad rap?
For some reason, when it comes to the word “routine,” people associate it with other words that don’t match reality. They think boring, mundane, uninteresting, mandatory, rigid — basically, being forced to schedule things down to a T.
That’s why many people steer clear of routines and miss out on all of the benefits of having them.
But a routine is not a schedule. The secret to building routines that work includes realizing that some routines can be fun, you can start slow and make your way up if you want, and that it’s wonderful to shake them up from time to time.
For example, say you meet up with your girlfriends once a week. That’s a routine. But it means you get to try new restaurants, catch up on gossip, let your hair down, and get out of the house. Your kids get spoiled by their babysitter. Your babysitter can count on some consistent pay. And your husband gets to catch up with his friends. It sounds like a multi-successful routine to me!
The Benefits of Routine
Routine is important for so many reasons that authors fill books on the subject. Let’s look at a few that have particular significance nowadays.
Routine Combats Decision Fatigue
Just getting through the day these days can seem like a cruel game of whack-a-mole: As soon as you make one decision, another pops up.
You’re making decisions regarding your job, your home, taking care of your kids, and maybe your parents as well. On top of what to do regarding all the repercussions of the coronavirus.
After all that, you go to the grocery store, and you have to decide 45 kinds of ketchup. Don’t forget the decision-making your brain is also doing by being bombarded by media on various screens virtually 24/7.
Our modern-day ways are causing major decision fatigue. No matter their importance, a large amount of decision-making wears down our cognitive abilities, and we start being unable to make good decisions.
This is why you see many highly successful people embrace routine, such as Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama wearing the same outfit every day. One less item to decide.
As our former president explained, “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”
Routine can lessen time and energy when deciding when to do something and what to do, sparing yourself from losing motivation and giving your brain the downtime it needs to put itself to use for things that demand keen thinking.
Routine Provides Stability
During times of great uncertainty, we can feel a loss of control. And who hasn’t felt that this past year, as COVID-19 has upended our lives?
Having a routine can help establish normalcy in the face of an unpredictable world. Having a structure to depend upon helps lessen our chances of feeling unmoored, leading to dwelling on negative thoughts. That can only increase our stress and anxiety and is counterproductive for success.
Routine Helps You Prioritize
Having a routine allows you to get essential things done. You don’t have to waste time trying to figure out how to get things done or spend time worrying that necessary things won’t get done.
By staying on top of your to-do list, you can prioritize being entirely in the moment so you and your family can better enjoy your free time together.
Routine Lowers Stress
Routines can help you establish good habits, so you can optimize your mind, body, and spirit. For example, making a routine of scheduling 30 minutes a day for physical activity can help you manage stress.
Regular exercise has countless benefits, including pumping your endorphins, lowering your stress, boosting your immune system, improving your mood, and giving you a better night’s sleep.
Taking care of a routine can also bring you a sense of accomplishment, which can positively affect your attitude and enhance your well-being.
Our minds crave the comfort and mindlessness that routine offers. Giving your mind what it craves will provide you with less anxiety, more energy, and a higher degree of adaptability to the unexpected.
Routine Can Save You Money
No, it’s not exciting to create a budget and review it monthly or research insurance companies when you’re up for renewal or not happy with your current insurer. Or, at least those things aren’t exciting to most people.
But following through on your budgeting review can help expose unnecessary costs that you can curtail or eliminate. And following through on comparison shopping to get the best deal can save you thousands of dollars a year. I recently comparison-shopped my auto and home insurance and switched to a new insurer to save over $700 annually.
You can use your savings to pay down your debt or part of it to do something fun. Thanks to the insurance savings from my research routine, my husband and I can swing a long weekend getaway this summer to catch up with his favorite faraway cousin and her husband during their visit to a nearby vacation hot spot.
Examples of Successful Routines
Start putting those benefits of routine to work for you. Remember, start small and build up, so you don’t become overwhelmed and miss out on the opportunity to be organized, healthy, calm, engaged, and connected — all factors contributing to success. Pay extra attention to your mornings and how you can implement some morning routine ideas. After all, we all know how important it is to set ourselves up for success throughout the day.
- Wake at the same time every day.
- Make your bed.
- Take a shower.
- Eat breakfast.
- Drink a glass of water.
- Read the news.
- Review your to-do list.
- Check email at the same time every day.
- Make lunch.
- Schedule short breaks.
- Do one thing that stimulates you.
- Commit to time for honing a skill.
- Straighten up your workplace.
- Set and stick to a sign-off time for work.
- Track your habits.
- Have at least one real conversation to curb your isolation.
- Eat dinner.
- Make a to-do list for the next day.
- Write three good things that happened during the day.
- Straighten up your personal space.
- Do a hobby you love.
- Turn off your devices.
- Layout your clothes for the next day before bed.
- Go to bed at the same time every day.
I hope I’ve raised your awareness about how routine can help bring more fun and satisfaction into your life and give you a few routines to think about adopting for yourself.
Karen Condor is a routine-loving insurance expert who writes and researches the car insurance comparison site, CarInsuranceComparison.com. She has found a good routine that can help her save money and live a healthier life.
Download a printable routine chart for kids.
Featured Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels
Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels