I follow the same pattern every morning when I wake up — make coffee, feed the cat, drink coffee, check email, drink more coffee, then off to the shower. I pack my kid’s lunch, fill the dishwasher, and get all the things ready we need on the way out the door in the exact same order. Every night at precisely 8:30 pm I herd the young’un off to the bathroom to brush teeth, put jammies on, and then off to bed for two stories. Every day, the same exact thing.
Boring, right? But it keeps me sane. That’s what routines do. They’re tried and true methods of helping us navigate the more mundane pieces of our lives without having to think too much about it. We switch on to autopilot, which saves our brainpower for the more pressing issues. Familiar routines comfort us, and give us an anchor in an ever-shifting world. In this respect routines are a very useful thing.
The danger is when we mindlessly let routines rule our lives, instead of consciously choosing them as a way to make our lives more manageable. “That’s the way I’ve always done it” is not always the best reason for doing something.
Periodically we need to re-evaluate our daily rituals –are they still useful? Is this really the best way to get things done? Have any of them inadvertently become a negative pattern in my life?
I sat down recently and took a look at some of my own routines. My morning ritual helps me get necessary things done before my brain is fully engaged, so that’s a keeper. So is my habitual baked potato and salad lunch — quick, easy, relatively healthy, and one less decision to make in my day.
I did, however, realize that a couple of them could seriously use some help. My weekly dinner routine could use a facelift; I’m bored with eating the same things week after week and as a parent I really should expand my kid’s culinary horizons. (I know, I just said that I eat the same thing for lunch every day and I’m okay with that. But dinner is a whole different ballgame in my book.) My nightly routine of playing on the computer for an hour or two after my son goes to sleep is encroaching on my decent night’s sleep, so that needs to be adjusted.
I realized that some routines were missing from my life altogether. Exercise is a big one – I really need to start doing that again regularly. Myprevious yoga habit got replaced by other stuff, and I need to get it back into the daily mix. Scheduling in more time to spend with friends and family is also on the list.
Take a look at your daily routines. What still works? What’s broken?