Routine, Routine, Routine.
I've always heard that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit or routine. If that's true then 22 days from now you will be a whole new person because I'm going to tell you how important developing routines are. You can create space in your brain to think about new challenges and opportunities. Once you develop a routine for something, you can stop thinking about it every time that you do it. However routines and habits can also be a very bad thing. So make sure that you are developing the right ones and they will change your life.
Let me first tell you about my morning routine, which is proof that developing a routine creates room in your brain to think about other things. My morning routine now requires no thought. I'm a walking zombie around the house until I leave for work. And even then I feel like a zombie making the same exact drive to the exact same parking lot. And walking to the same exact chair in the same exact cubicle and so on and so on. I’ve done it all so many times that it requires little effort and it causes no stress.
#1 5:00 am. My alarm clock goes off and if that doesn't wake me up than my cat surely does. The first thing that I do every morning is feed my cat a half can of food. BUT, as I walk from my bed to the cat food bowl, I ALWAYS plug in and turn on the Keurig to let it warm up. It's a critical time saver to preheat that especially since my routine requires two 10 ounce rounds of coffee brewing. I never forget that step. But if I don’t feed my cat first, then she harasses me until I do. If I don't wake up right away she walks on my face until I do. I guess that's what I get for saving her life from the streets of York..
#2 I'll make brief because I think it's everyone's number one or two ;) going to the bathroom.
#3 I return to my room and make my bed and tidy up and clothes that I have lying on my couch. If I don’t make my bed then I struggle to move past forward. It's not even about the bed literally being made; it's about what it represents. I live by myself so why would I care if my bed is made? It represents that I am buttoned up. Everything has to be buttoned up before I am able to leave for work, everything, every day, in its place. The only exceptions are when I'm running late. That tends to only occur when I drink too much the night before. And I also have an emergency exit morning routine plan for that but I won't go into it. Everything has a place and it will be in its place before I leave every morning. If I can't achieve that I won't ever achieve that at work. It all starts at home.
#4 Brew the first round of coffee. I take two rounds so this just gets the ball rolling.
#5 Shave. This is also when I plug in the music to help vitalize myself, I’m sure my neighbors love that.
#6 I get dressed. (Requires applying deodorant) Usually I try to make this as simple of a process as possible but sometime that requires ironing my clothes. If that's that case (I try to avoid in any way) I also plug in the iron along with the Keurig on my way to feed the cat in step number one. But if in any way possible, this step requires as little time as possible. This is basically my goal with every step of this process.
#7 Change out the coffee in the Keurig and put in fresh for the second round of brewing.
#8 Take a Men's One-a-Day and a Fish Oil vitamin.
#9 Wash my hands, brush my teeth, Listerine and floss.
#10 Fill up a cup of iced tea and grab an energy bar. Also add 4 packets of sugar to my coffee and stir. I have a spoon in my car to stir my coffee a second time on my way to work since Keurig coffee seems to settle at the bottom of the cup after a short time. Does anyone else experience this problem?
#11 I re-apply deodorant; confirm that I have my briefcase, iced tea, coffee, energy bar, and correct attire. Now exit.
So there you have it. The might be the longest winded point that I have ever tried to make but basically, once you develop a routine you don't even have to think about it, it just happens. Now that you know my morning routine I can tell you about a time recently when I experienced a different habitat and it resulted in a failed routine.
I fell into this routine and after a while (21-30 days) you literally stop thinking about it and here's my proof. Way back when, I was in a new position that required week long training in a different state. So I was cooped up in a hotel room for a week. And I remember the first Monday that I woke up and it was almost like I forgot how to live my life. I didn't know what to do?!? I was completely out of my element. (Similar to playing a sporting event on the road instead of your home stadium.) I was completely out of my element and for a second, I didn't know what to do. I had to stop and think through my head what I needed to do in the morning before I could execute it. But even after I did, it just wasn't the same. The coffee wasn't as good, the granola tasted stale, I was grumpy from a bad night sleep in a bed other than my own, and I kinda missed my annoying cat walking on my face because I hit the snooze button. Nothing was the same and I had to 'THINK' about every step. These were steps that I did every day of my life that now required critical thinking skills?!! Talk about a stressful start to my day, and I didn’t even make it out of my room yet.
It shows how a powerful a routine can be in your daily life. If you have a routine that you don't have to think about then you can focus on other things, new and better things.
Think about it like this; when’s the last time that you got a new job or a new car? ANY new job is always stressful, even if you don’t have to work as long or hard as your previous one, because it’s all NEW information. You don’t have a routine developed so you have to think about every single step. Or when you get behind the wheel of a new car, it feels foreign for the first couple miles. You fell into a routine and a comfort zone with your previous vehicle that is now being broken. Think about it the next time you get a new job or car, I bet it doesn’t take you long to tell the difference.
Developing good routines can create room in your memory and time for critical thinking of new things. You can actually become more intelligent by developing routines for your daily habits. If you aren't spending all of your time thinking about every step of your life, you have time to make better decision in all of your other areas.
A close member of my family fails to develop these daily life routines and occasionally she pays the consequences. Recently she lost her car keys because she didn’t have a routine for placing her valuables every time that she returns home. Well that led to one morning when she couldn’t find her keys, which led to a panic, and a stressful search, and ultimately a call to mom for a ride to work. Tisk, tisk, tisk Lynn, routines are always right. Stop fighting them with chaos.