What’s the Big Fuss about Routines?
Particularly when we’re going through a rough patch it’s recommended to get a routine so you have structure in your day. Friends might tell us how they went through such and such and the way out was to get a routine. Or we listen to the big- name self-help gurus and they tell us to get a routine to get out of the doldrums.
Here’s the thing. I follow some big-name self-help gurus so this isn’t a criticism of me or them. But just because they say something is true doesn’t mean it is – for you! Just because something works for everybody else, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Maybe not now. Maybe not ever.
When you’re struggling it might be a good suggestion to have a routine to get out of it. Many psychologists would recommend that. It’s not a bad course of action – unless it is.
What Type Are You?
Many creative types, myself included, don’t like routines. We fight them like we’re in a cage. We don’t like a lot of structure. We like to free flow. It works for us and our fluid natures.
Rebellious types often don’t like routines or don’t like the one someone is suggesting. They want to do it their way.
Malleable types may do what the gurus say, attempt to put a routine in place, only to find they can’t keep it up.
What’s the common thread here?
If you don’t want to have a routine, don’t. Sometimes the obvious is so obvious we miss it or think it can’t be true. It’s true.
If You’re Fighting It, There’s a Reason!
If you’re fighting to have a routine there’s a reason. If it’s out of your nature to have routines, then honor that. No one says you have to have a routine. Only you do. If you think you need one, try it out, give it a go. If it works for you, great.
If it doesn’t, follow the obvious path, don’t.
If we’re in depression we often fight routines because quite frankly, we don’t feel like doing anything. That’s when therapists will say to get a routine in place to give you structure. That’s not a bad idea. But if you’re still fighting it good therapists (or coachers, or healers etc) will see that and not force it on you. Obviously, a routine isn’t working for you right now. Maybe it never will. Or maybe just not now. Forcing it isn’t the answer because it won’t stick. That can lead to more disappointment and feelings of failure for not sticking with it.
If you don’t have the energy or interest to have a routine or follow through with it, don’t fight against it. Quite frankly, it gets exhausting. Fighting against it, telling yourself you have to have a routine because some guru said you do, isn’t going to motivate you to do it. If it were, you would’ve done it already!
Don’t Should All Over Yourself
The other trap we get caught in is we tell ourselves we should have a routine. Because a guru said so, or because we know it’s good advice or our mom told us. Should is a judgment word. Should you have a routine? I mean, really, should you? No one says you should. If you don’t want to, as I said above, don’t. Don’t “should all over yourself” about it. If you decide not to have a routine, that’s fine. Stick with it. Don’t try to justify it. It’s ok if you don’t want to do it, it really is. You don’t need to convince me, your mom, your therapist or yourself. It’s ok.
Later on, you may decide now is the time for a routine. That’s ok – for later. When and if you’re ready, you are. Before then, let it go. The only should is the one you give yourself.
You Already Have a Routine
If you stop and think about it, you already have a routine. What do you do in the morning? You get up, brush your teeth, make some coffee, take a shower, walk the dog, whatever it is you do. As I said above, I’m more of a free-form person. But even I have a morning routine. I get up, brush my teeth, let the dog out, feed the dog etc.
What’s adding in one more thing if you are of the belief system you need a routine?
Do your normal thing – get up, brush teeth, make coffee, walk the dog etc. Can you slip in a five-minute meditation? Can you set your daily intentions as you walk the dog? Can you take ten to journal?
If you don’t have time to do it at home in the morning, can you do it at work? If you work from home, can you schedule it in to your day? If you don’t work, can you add it in?
Look at adding one more thing if you’re of the mind you need a routine. It doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to be an entire change. Just one small thing.
Even me who as I said above, fights routines, has a morning routine. We all do. I decided to slip one thing into my morning. It’s a small, but powerful change. If you’re routine-averse don’t look at it as a routine but something you added to your day by choice because it makes you feel good.
Time managers will tell you to do the new item at the same time every day. It keeps you focused and helps you develop the routine by committing to doing it at a certain time. What if you fight even that? I don’t like someone – even me – telling me at ten o’clock every morning I need to put down the email and journal. I totally fight against that. That’s why my day isn’t scheduled. Time managers will tell me I’m all wrong, but it works for me. If it works for you, and I know plenty of people it works for, do it. If it doesn’t, don’t.
If setting a reminder that you can snooze feels more fluid to you, do that. If writing it on a to-do list that you can check off makes you feel good, do that. It doesn’t matter how you remind yourself if you want to be reminded.
If being reminded makes you feel boxed in as it does for me, don’t remind yourself. Just do it if you remember. Chances are if you really like what you’re adding in, you’ll remember. Even if you forget a day or two, you’ll get on track if it’s important to you.
If you don’t get to it at the end of the day, don’t beat yourself up. It’s ok, it really is. For all you perfectionists out there I know that will feel weird. What’s the alternative? Keep beating yourself up because you’re aren’t doing it? That doesn’t feel good either. Even if you’re so used to beating yourself up that it’s become second nature, that gets old too. It’s like getting bed sores or an aching tooth – eventually you have to treat them. You have to treat yourself and that means stop beating yourself up.
When you’re ready to have a routine, you will. If you’ll never be ready for routines, don’t fight it and don’t try to do it. It’s ok. It really is. You will do what makes sense in your world.
What’s the big fuss about routines, anyway?
If you are concerned about routines and want to discuss it, contact me for a one session strategy session.