On Routines

Routine is despair’s sly assassin.

This is one of my momma’s favourite mantras. By extension (and repetition), it’s becoming one of mine too. Sure, it’s a little dramatic, but pretty effective in getting the point across. Without following my routines, I feel all discombobulated, unproductive and (my turn to be dramatic) chaotic. I know there are many who prefer to take each day as it comes, but structure is a very important part of my life.

Note: I actually wrote this, not just for this post. My real thoughts.

At this stage in my life, I’m constantly trying to develop new skills, improve, better myself, and experience new things. I find that without a plan/routine in place, these self-improvement goals for myself fall by the wayside. Yes, in the moment it can definitely be a little annoying to have to set aside time to write a novel/take a picture/exercise, but in the long run I am always, without fail happier if I’ve accomplished what I set out to accomplish. Seeing the Project365 collage grow or the checkmarks adding up on my exercise chart is enough to reinforce these habits for me.

I know that if I didn’t make certain things into a goal or routine, I just wouldn’t do them. Without routines, I spend my spare time watching TV. With them, I read books, bake/cook new things, edit together videos, learn to knit, exercise, blog. I have absolutely zero doubt that setting a (pretty large) number of routines for myself has a big, positive impact on my happiness. Here are a few of them:

  • 750words.com: Every morning, first thing, I type my 750 words. I use that space to work through anything that’s making me anxious, focus on the day to come, let go of anything that happened the day before, make an action plan. This is one of my all-time favourite habits.
  • Slow-carb breakfast: Sautéed broccoli (chopped as soon as I come home from grocery shopping, otherwise I’d never eat it) mixed with a big spoonful of cottage cheese and egg whites.
  • 30-60 minutes of exercise, 5 times a week: I go to a power yoga class twice a week, it lasts an hour and is a great workout, both in terms of cardio and weight exercises. The other three days, I usually go for a brisk 1/2 hour walk outside. As much as I dislike winter, I’ve loved breathing in all that cold, fresh air almost every day.
  • Project 365: Since 2012 started, I’ve taken multiple photos every day. Sometimes it’s discouraging, because I feel amateurish or have nothing interesting to photograph. Other days (and when I look at my progress) I feel furiously happy that I’m carving out time every day to try and practice a skill I love.
  • Blogging: I’ve made it a goal to post at least twice a week, and over the past year or so it’s become non-negotiable. I love love love this space on the internet, it’s given me back so much. I’m trying to work up to posting 5x a week, because I love blogs that do that.
  • After-dinner studying: The block of time between dinner and bedtime is usually dedicated to doing readings, assignments and studying for school. It’s usually supplemented with a cup of decaf tea, another comforting ritual.
  • Journaling: Oh, nobody make fun of me please. I almost always cap off my night by writing a page in my journal. What’s the difference between this routine and 750words? Not much, actually. It’s just another place to process, and write things down in an otherwise busy day.

I also try to fill my days to bursting by visiting with friends, reading a few pages of a non-academic book, doing a little knitting, and maybe Skyping/calling my family or friends. And guess what? Having all these routines in place really does slay most of the sadness or loneliness I might otherwise be prone to feeling. Routines keep me calm, they help me feel balanced, they bring me peace.

Are you the kind of person who loves routines? Or do you loathe them? What are some of your favourites?