Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
A friend of mine, struggling with organization and an insane schedule, has been balking at setting up basic routines to help her out. “They will limit my freedom and creativity” is something I have heard more than once.
But I believe that having routines actually frees up and creates pockets of creative time. Things I never seemed to have before I implemented routines.
I’ve talked about routines before (see What Would Happen If You Got Sick?). Routines are actually little more than formalized habits, written down.
Why routines? When you have set routines, you never have to worry about missing things that need to be done on a regular basis. By formalizing your approach to tasks, you can count on getting them done.
Our foremothers used to do this as well: I remember a set of towels my mother had, each with a day and task on them. Monday, wash. Tuesday, iron. Thursday, baking. Each day had its tasks laid out.
Why write them down? Most people wouldn’t write down their routines. What I have found, though, is that writing them down is essential if someone has to step in for you. The times my husband has been hospitalized, I have had to pass the care of my child onto others. The routines I had written down meant that her schedule was not disrupted, and she had the comfort of the familiar during scary times.
How To Construct Routines
The easiest way to get into routine habits is to start with daily things. Things you might already take for granted, but may want to expand. For me, I started with the before bed routine. Besides the tasks of getting ready for bed, I also put on items to make things easier for the next morning. I wrote out what I already did, then added what I wanted to do. I referred to the list every day for three weeks, and it was set.
At the same time, you don’t want this to be a list of things you are dismayed at before beginning. So while world domination may be something you want to do, adding it to your weekly routine is a sure way to overwhelm yourself.
The basic actions to create a routine are:
- Pick the day/time. Pick the period of the routine, whether it be daily, weekly, monthly or yearly.
- Decide what needs to be done. Write out what you want to accomplish, along with your best estimate of the time it will take.
- Practice your routines. They say it takes a month to build a habit. The only habit you have to have is to look at your lists every time you do the routine until you have them memorized.
What About Routines That Don’t Serve Us Anymore?
The one thing I’ve never seen in my reading about routines is how to get out of a routine when the actions no longer serve the purpose. We change, our families change, life changes. It is best to review your routines so that you can adjust them as needed.
And if something doesn’t work, or isn’t applicable, throw it out!
Photo by Joe Lanman