A routine is the backbone of any system. It’s the most effective way to establish consistency. Work and school are good examples of routines. We are dedicated to them, honor the schedule and stay consistent. It can go beyond your professional life, however.
When kids hit 18 and graduate high school, they celebrate their newly found freedom and begin to stay up late at night and play video games all day. That’s a great way to enjoy the summer as a student, but the lack of any organization is the end of all.
I remember staying up until 8am playing Counter Strike and waking up at 4pm, busting open my room door frantically and asking “what day is it?!” That lifestyle is unproductive and it was like that because I didn’t have a routine.
Don’t get me wrong. I had goals and I wanted to accomplish them, but some how they either got pushed off or magically didn’t fit into my day. The first problem was that I didn’t have clear cut baby steps to accomplishing my goals, but the biggest problem was that I didn’t have a plan.
Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
The Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
Alice: “I don’t much care where –”
The Cat: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll,
Lets use building muscle as a example. Lets say I’m a 24 year old female and I feel like my body needs some shape to it, so I want to build some definition. The first thing I decide on is a gym and a workout routine. Okay, now the most important part that a lot of people fail to incorporate is a gym routine.
I’ve known so many people who just go to the gym when they feel like it. In fact, I was one of those people. I use to call my friend and say “do you want to go to the gym today?” and he would reply “yeah, I’ll see later”. Then if we did go, we’d walk around and do a few random exercises and go home. Even if we had a workout plan and chose the days of the week we’re going, it’s still not enough.
Work like Clockwork
Having a specific time and treating it like a job is what makes any routine consistent. After all, consistent routine = consistent results. When you set your alarm for 8:30am and get to the gym by 9:30am every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, you can count on not only your workout going smoother, but your week and days. That’s because when you have good control of your time, you feel motivated and productive.
If you don’t have a routine, life will just bully you. You’ll easily get distracted by the 1001 entertainment vehicles out there (and growing) and waste 10 hours on youtube clicking the “Related videos” links.
As a writer, I have a blogging routine so my readers can have consistent material on the topics they like. For example; I write down ideas on Friday’s, create a draft on Monday and on Tuesday, I’ll edit the final draft and publish it in the morning. I’ll go ahead and share so on my social media as well. Thursday morning is the day I decide to post opinion pieces about current events, movie reviews, etc.
Before I developed this routine and created reminders on my phone for the tasks, I had problems being consistent with my writing. The powers of developing a system for your goals and sticking to it is amazing.
Death by Entertainment
The biggest challenges you’ll have are easily accessible time wasters and entertainment. If you’re dedicating Thursday mornings to working on your video editing, but find facebook and youtube easily available, you may end up in their vortex for a lot longer than you think. Once your brain switches to entertainment mode, you slouch and get in that rhythm, it’s hard to get out of it.
Will power isn’t the answer here. Being in the right environment will put you in the right state of mind. Doing your studying at Starbucks or the library for example is a good way to avoid distraction.
I find working on my computer at home very difficult because I’m one click away from a six hour Counter Strike game. The icon is on my desktop and I can get into a game in like five clicks. Instead, I just intentionally bought a piece of shi’t laptop for $200 that can’t really handle most games or media multitasking. That helped keep me focused and working while not allowing me to access all the entertainment options I have working at home.
Yes, you can discipline yourself and fight the urges, that works sometimes too. I don’t find the point in struggling when I can just create a guaranteed system for getting work done in a more vibrant environment. That’s a win-win situation. I don’t need to struggle to prove to myself that I can do it without assistance.
Lost in Clutter
Another possible failure point is scheduling too many tasks for one day. I use to fall victim to that as well. I use to schedule a haircut, oil change, car wash, food shopping and video editing in one way.
After the haircut and the oil change, I get hungry, eat something and end up in traffic, then by the time I make it to the carwash, I don’t feel like doing anything for the rest of the day. Again, there’s no reason in trying to push yourself here to prove anything to yourself or anyone else. Do what you can and keep your day comfortable. Slow and steady wins this race.
Always give yourself an extra hour to do anything or prepare for anything. I never underestimate time and always plan to get everywhere I need to be early. Remember, there’s no such thing as being too early or too prepared. Less tasks, more prep time for each. That’s been my most effective formula in a nutshell.
Sleep is the Key to it All
Having a bed time and morning routine are crucial to the rest of your daily schedule. Falling asleep and waking up at the same time every night is the beginning of consistency. If you oversleep or find yourself staying up too late, your next day schedule will lose consistency. Not to mention you’ll feel like crap.
My morning routine goes something like this:
wake up at 6:30am
Breakfast and supplements
Shower and Brush Teeth
My evening routine looks like this:
Computer auto shutoff at 12am
Shower and Brush Teeth
Make nighttime tea
Lights off and sleep by 1am
As long as my day starts off the same and ends the same way all the time, I can fill in the body (the middle of the day) with details and stick to them.
Waking up in the morning and free-styling with your day can leave the door open for plenty of wasteful habits and distractions to find their way in. When you control time, you have better control of your life. The trickle down effects of that are great. Better control = better confidence = more drive = more productivity and so on!