Routines are a helpful tool. They keep us productive at work, organized at school, and sane at home, but not everybody likes to keep a routine. While some people can’t seem to live without their routines, some people can’t live with routines.
This might happen for any number of reasons, but what I hear most often is that they don’t like to have everything set ahead of time, they like having the freedom and adventure they think a free-for-all schedule gives them.
Routines, however, have many great benefits, and I think we need to shift our perspective on them because of
Having a schedule or routine doesn’t restrict you from doing the things you want to do, they don’t have to make your life seem monotonous. In reality, having a structured routine can actually empower you to have a more spontaneous and varied lifestyle.
The big problem is in how people think of routines working; the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the word “routine” is a sad cubicle in an office building with harsh fluorescent lights and Linda’s stale coffee breath, but that’s not what it really is.
A routine is simply organized prioritization. You prioritize doing your skincare in the morning, so you make sure you make time for it. You prioritize passing your classes, so you set aside time in the evening to study.
When you know you have time for the things you need to do, you have more time to enjoy the things you want to do.
Once you know when you’ll take care of those priority-tasks, you know all the time you have left for spur-of-the-moment activities, outings, and gatherings, all with the peace of mind that the big, important tasks won’t fall through the cracks.
Having a set routine helps you to actually value your time, and that’s something that’s worth doing.
In addition to helping you manage your time in ways you want to, routines are good for your mental health as well. Especially with how crazy these last few years have been, and how hectic they keep getting, its important to have stability in your life.
Even if your whole world feels upside-down having routines that you stick to can help you maintain your mental clarity, and keep calm during a stressful day.
A routine can be something you look forward to- maybe its taking a hot shower and making yourself some tea before bed, or maybe its your daily jog right when you wake up. The point is that a good routine gives you something to look forward to.
Self care isn’t just taking a nap when things get overwhelming (although it can be). Self care is also the routine maintenance of your body and mind. You can put a new coat of paint on your car and say you maintain your vehicle, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get an oil change, too.
Things like brushing your teeth, drinking some water, and having a good cry are all self care too, and they can built into a routine.
As long as you know you’re going to do them, why not structure time into your day for them?
Having a routine can also help you enjoy the things your routine is made of more.
Instead of running out the door while raking your fingers through your hair, hoping that you look slightly less like you just rolled out of bed, structure a hair care routine into your morning so you can take the time to do your hair how you like it.
When you take the time to care for something, you can appreciate and love it, so take the time to care for yourself. You deserve to be appreciated, and that starts with yourself. I know that it can be hard to even like yourself sometimes, but like and love are two different things.
If you’re in a spot where you don’t feel like you deserve something nice, try thinking of what a little self care enables you to do.
If you take a shower, you get to smell like your favorite body wash, and if you do your homework, you get to learn new things.
Having a routine also helps you with setting boundaries.
When you have time set aside for priorities, you get to treat them like priorities, instead of them being pushed aside for a last minute something. If you have trouble saying “no”, like I do, having a routine is the perfect excuse for it.
Instead of feeling obligated to go to something you don’t have the time for, but feeling bad for saying no, you can just say “Sorry, that’s when I do X, and I’ve been working really hard to keep that routine lately”
Things can always be re-scheduled if you need to, and the really important things will fit.
I’m not saying that you can’t do anything you want to, obviously some things are more important than what time you read a chapter for history or brush your teeth, but what I am saying is that keeping to a routine most of the time will be rewarding all of the time.
Once you know what free time you have, you can use it to your advantage, and once you know what your busy days are, you know how to plan ahead for them.
Keeping routines helps you to focus better, take care of yourself and your environment, and invest your time and energy into the things that make you happy.
Having a routine also helps you to have self-discipline and achieve more with what you choose to do. Being organized can help you with job applications and performance, budgeting, family life, and being there to support your friends.
When you choose to create good routines and habits, you’re choosing to build your life around what you need it to be.
You’re choosing to create and maintain your own stability and empowerment in a purposeful way that lets you explore life in ways that you want to.
Routines, at the end of the day, are nothing but a tool, and we should treat them like it. They aren’t locking you into something you don’t want to do, the same way you wouldn’t let a flathead screwdriver dictate your life.
Keeping an organized routine doesn’t have to be rigid and restrictive, it can be as simple as getting a $1 folder from the bookstore and putting your assignments for the week into it.
There’s an Internet full of preplanned routines and templates for them if you don’t know where to start, But don’t be afraid to take those and make them your own.
Find a template you like, print it off, and follow it for a few days, then see what needs to be changed. You are the boss of your own routine, and you know what you need best, so make your routines work for you.
Routines aren’t there to keep you from doing all the things you want to, they’re there to give you all the time you need to do all the things you care about, with a bit left over for all the things you never even knew you wanted to do.