“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routines.” – Mike Murdock
Some, perhaps many people, consider routines the bane of life. Not me. I relish them, embracing them as fond friends. Why? Routines have served me well during times of anguish, pain, success and failure, boredom, disappointment, exhilaration and joy.
Routines help ground you.
Ever feel like things are getting out of control and you need something to hang onto? I’ve been there, many times, in fact. The unpleasantness of feeling emotionally overwhelmed isn’t a feeling anyone wants to experience, yet most of us do on occasion. One way I’ve found to get back to what’s real is to embark on a routine. It should be something familiar, because those are generally the most comfortable. Exercise is a good routine, one that I employ when I want to zero out emotions that seek to enslave me. A brisk walk on a nearby trail serves this purpose well, as does charging away on the stationary bike to get my cardio in.
Morning routines jumpstart the day.
My morning routine allows me to ease into my day without taxing my mind or stressing over what’s to come. I love my hot tea with lemon and a quick, nourishing bit of fruit as I sit in my rocking chair in the backyard gazebo. This 20-minute preface to the day’s events gives me time to meditate and appreciate nature. It’s amazing to me how every morning is just a little different: patterns of the birds, what’s now in bloom, the scurrying of various animals, the gentle sound of the wind in the trees, the passage of clouds in the sky. It’s almost like a painting that comes alive, complete with sound.
With routines, you can worry less about the what and meditate on the why.
If you don’t like meditating or think it’s not for you, maybe engaging in your favorite routines will help you access what’s deep within — without having to try so hard to do a formal meditation practice. For me, while involved in routines — washing dishes by hand is a soothing one — my mind can drift where it wants to go, I acknowledge the thoughts without judgment, and welcome the peace and well-being that the gentle drift brings about.
Routines are like putting one foot in front of the other — they keep you going.
During times of stress, distress, physical or emotional pain, extreme disappointment or failure, I find that I need something readily available to motivate me to keep going. A death of a family member, the loss of a job, the sudden rejection by a close friend, suffering an unexpected illness, unexpected depression, or falling into a funk – all are extraordinary situations that can stymie any action, no matter how small. With a routine, however, you’ve got something you know that you can do without too much thought. It’s a small, but not insignificant way to keep you going and help your mental health.
Simple routines are easily mastered and great to share.
Social media is a wonderful venue to broadcast to your network routines that you think they might enjoy, or that have worked well for you and you want to share them with others. The best ones to share are those that are simple, easy to remember and easy to perform. Besides, the best shared content is in quick bites, coupled with a great photo, of course. Tips to get things done, how to master laundry chores, whatever. If you’re stuck for something to say on your favorite social media, consider the post of simple routines.
The more you do routines, the better at them you get.
As in anything you do multiple times with the intention of making progress, achieving goals or realizing a sense of satisfaction upon completion, the more you perform your routines, the easier they often get. Furthermore, you figure out ways to make them more efficient and productive. In short, you get better at them. Washing floors is one of my examples. I’ve found that there are smart shortcuts I can use to make the job less strenuous and ease up on the stress such taxing work entails. Floor washing is part of my cleaning routine, and I have several variations depending on what floor I’m cleaning, how dirty it is, how soon it must be dry and so on. Knowing I have different options makes me feel I can tailor my cleaning routine to suit my needs.
Routines provide a rescue from boredom.
When you’re bored, you’re likely not doing anything. I’ve found that the quickest route out of boredom is to get busy doing something. Exercise works best for me, although it doesn’t matter what the activity is, if I dive in and give it my full attention, boredom simply disappears. This never fails to happen, so I highly recommend it as an effective boredom escape. A good exercise routine is also beneficial to decrease stress.
Show by example: children can learn from your routines.
Every parent knows that kids hate to get lessons from their parents. Whenever they hear, “Do it this way, not that,” their minds tend to go blank. They’d much rather be doing anything else than pay attention to a parental lesson. However, there’s a trick to getting children to learn and that’s by watching you doing your routines. If they ask to help, let them. This not only encourages industriousness, it promotes sharing and caring behavior. All from a simple routine. And don’t forget bedtime routines. They’re essential to helping nurture your relationship with your child.
Quiet routines allow creativity to flow.
Sometimes I get stuck, unable to figure out a new idea or determine the steps I’ll follow to perform an activity or task. When I involve myself in a quiet routine or ritual, such as making the bed, folding laundry, working in the garden, helping clean the pool or deck, however, my mind freely wanders, sorting through possibilities, coming up with choices. This is a great creativity booster, a perfect way to let ideas flow while you accomplish your routine.
What’s your legacy? Well-crafted routines are great to pass along.
Thinking back to my childhood, I remember watching my mother and father cook and wondering how I’d ever be able to whip up such delicious meals. My father had been a chef, so he had his culinary specialties which always amazed me because he could do chicken 100 diverse ways. My mother, on the other hand, was great at casseroled, spaghetti, roasts and desserts. Each complimented the other, although they rarely cooked together. I sat on a stool and watched, eagerly pitching in when invited. I learned a lot from these experiences and, in a way, passed the well-crafted cooking routines from my parents to my children. It’s one of their legacies to me, among many others.
Since you do certain things every day, constituting one or several routines, find ways to fine-tune or alter them so that you’re energized, motivated and feel a sense of pride in accomplishment. Who knows? You may even come to love routines.