Some reactions are fairly predictable. When I tell people I’m a Coach, they usually assume I teach people what to do (which I don’t, as explained in this article). When I talk about routines, people roll their eyes and think of a boring, restrictive practice designed to keep them from being spontaneous and having fun.
Nothing could be further from the truth. I’d actually say that the opposite is the case: Routines, used in the right way, will free you up to be spontaneous and make time for that which brings you joy in your life.
Routines are a Wild Spirits best friend. To make them work for you and avoid pitfalls along the way, I’ll give you a detailed roadmap below.
A lot of people assume that their minds take in all the information and all the sensual impressions around them all day. In fact, it would be absolutely overwhelming for us to try and process the billions of details and information our brains are bombarded with all day. Therefore, most of them end up as quick impressions stored only in our subconscious. We aren’t even aware of them.
What we consciously notice is what the brain has deemed important information. We have a degree of control over this, for example someone who cultivates a positive focus will consciously notice things which re-inforce this focus.
The lesson behind this is that our minds have a limited capacity. That’s why, when you are preoccupied with relationship trouble or a pleasant memory of the weekend, you find it so hard to concentrate on the work in front of you!
Routines to the rescue
Habits and routines help us free up “mind space” because they become, well, habitual and therefore take up much less attention. Think of actions you perform every day, such as taking a shower or brushing your teeth. Your mind is completely free to wander, because you hardly have to concentrate on what you’re doing.
The idea behind implementing smart routines is that they will become almost automatic and use very little of your mind’s power, thereby leaving you with plenty of energy and focus to do what’s actually important to you.
Here are examples of useful routines. Simply pick what sings to you and spend the next weeks implementing the new habit. Remember, you need to stick with it for at least three weeks for a new routine to become automatic!
Morning routine – If you start off your morning in the right way, it’ll set the tone for the rest of the day. Consider things like 15 minutes of reading a positive book, five or ten minutes of meditation, yoga, or simply sitting with your tea or coffee for a few minutes and relax before leaping into the chores of the day. It’s well worth getting up a little earlier for this.
Workout routine – Research has shown that we are more likely to stick with a workout if we do it around the same time every day (or twice a week, or whatever suits). I have a friend who goes for a run as soon as he comes home from work, every day without fail. If a practice becomes this automated, it’s hardly a question of motivation anymore. He told me he’d feel weird if he didn’t go!
Self Care routine – A Self Care routine could be 15 minute bath in the evening or daily journaling, a walk in nature, or something really simple: I’ve found that I need a little space for myself when I finish up work, around 15 minutes just to wind down. I honour this need even now that I work from home, and it’s doing me very good.
Evening routine – Saying your prayers before bed, or reading a book for half an hour, are little habits that are easy to acquire and maintain. A bedtime routine also helps you to fall asleep more easily, as any parent with a toddler can confirm! It’s not just for children, though – if you try it out, you might be surprised at the beneficial effects.
I hope this list inspired you to think about routines you might already have, and new ones you’d like to implement. You can always tweak an existing routine if you find something else works better for you; our situations change, and so do our needs. Once you have working routines in place, you’ll discover how wonderful it feels to have the everyday things taken care of. And then you’re free to focus on your joy and passion(s)!
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