One of my clients wants to work on being more like a grown-up and she wonders if she needs a schedule. Another bemoans the need for routine in her diet to help her lose weight. A third client wants to start an exercise program, but hates the idea of scheduling it. There's something about the myriad routines and schedules of adult life that many of us resist.
The Big Think's mention of a new book by Mason Curry about the daily rituals of successful, creative people, reinforced my position that routines are essential for achievement in anything and everything.
While I prefer the word "routine" to "ritual," the latter provoking images of questionable, dark practices, people who get things done often lead very structured lives.
These are some of the positively painless things you need to know about living with routines:
- Spontaneity is allowed. Let's say you plan to go to the gym, but a friend calls and asks you to run with him. You can do that since you're still exercising. You can even go to a movie instead, as long as you still get the three days a week you've targeted, by moving your workout to an open spot in your schedule.
- Fun is possible. Take whatever you're doing and think about how to make it more fun. Your schedule calls for writing a report today, so take your laptop to your favorite café and write half of it there. Have your fifth routine salad of the week with your best friend instead of alone. Mix things up and introduce novelty to avoid boredom.
- Order is calming. It's nice to know that everything you have to do will get done if you follow your schedule and routines. Structure reduces worry and anxiety about how you can possibly take care of everything. When you lay out clothes for your kid to wear to school the next day, you both have one less thing to worry about.
- Getting things done is gratifying. You know that positive feeling you get from crossing something off your to-do list? You can have that all day every day if you work your routines and use a schedule. It's so rewarding to know that you've done what you set out to do in a given day.
- Accomplishing more is awesome. Scheduling important things and creating routines for good habits takes a few extra minutes in your week. If you do that on Sunday night, it eliminates the daily angst about figuring out what to eat, how to fit in the two mile walk or when to call your mother.
Whether it's creating your masterpiece, getting your work done, finding a new love interest or your latest self-improvement project, having a schedule and routines help us make things happen. It's a pretty painless way to move ahead on your road to being a successful grown-up and meeting your most important goals.
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