What happened when the entire world went into lockdown? Everyone’s routines got interrupted. Things went crazy, and after a while people started to feel so overwhelmed.
This is a great example for why we need routine in our lives. It helps us keep our sanity and stay organized during the day. However, having a very strict routine is your worst enemy.
Just like everything else in life, sticking to routines should be done in moderation. You need to find the balance between the lack of habits and the excessive reliance on them.
Many people know about the positive influence of having a routine in their lives, but they tend to ignore the negative side. That’s why it’s necessary to shed the light on the things that scream to your face: “Routine is your worst enemy!”
Sometimes, routine can be your friend
I just want to clarify one thing before we dive into the downsides of routine. I’m not against it. On the contrary, I believe that having a routine is necessary for your mental health.
Since the beginning of the lockdown, my life turned into a mess and my days became so unproductive. That’s why I decided to fix my sleep schedule and create a morning routine for myself.
That was the best decision I ever made, and it helped me gain back some control over my life.
Having a routine can make your life more structured. Humans are hardwired to hate uncertainty and prefer to be in predictable environments. When you know what to do and when to do it, things become much easier. There are so many benefits for having a routine which makes it seem like a good solution to all our problems.
But sometimes, routine is your worst enemy
What happens when you try to take full advantage of the benefits of routine? Well, they can backfire. Too much of something is just as bad as too little of it.
When you turn your entire day into a strict list of habits that you follow religiously, the bad effects of having a routine start to show up on the surface.
1. Some things need to change
People are more likely to resist change when they’re used to something. Routines are a powerful tool to create habits, but at what cost?
Let’s say you live in a country where you don’t have electricity all the time (believe it or not, this is still the case in some countries and I live in one of them). People get used to the fact that they need electricity generators at home to use them when the electricity is cut off.
They get used to buying fuel, pay for maintenance, keep switching between two electricity sources, etc. At some point, it becomes natural. They don’t feel like something’s wrong because it’s just part of their daily routine.
This is something they should fight to change, but no one cares enough about it to do it. When people adjust their routines to accomodate for such things, they become numb after a while, and they stop thinking about it as a problem.
2. Life is unpredictable
You can’t always plan for everything, so your routine can’t take into consideration all the scenarios.
If your friends invite you to go out but you still haven’t completed your routine tasks, would you go with them?
Being obsessed with your routine can make you lose your cool when things change. For example, if going to the gym is an essential part of your routine and the gym had to close for a couple of days, you may get angry. Your entire routine is now disrupted and you’d have to adjust many things because of it.
Once you accept that some things are out of your control, you start to understand why it’s necessary to have a flexible daily schedule.
3. Routine can kill creativity
In the creative fields, routine is your worst enemy. If there’s one thing I learned from writing on this blog, it’s that setting strict times to write doesn’t work for everyone.
I tried adjusting my routine to write in the morning, but that wasn’t always successful. Then I tried moving it several times to fixed parts of the day and that didn’t work either.
Sometimes I feel inspired and write an entire article in less than an hour, and other times I struggle for a couple of hours to squeeze out some paragraphs.
Limiting yourself to strict schedules as part of a routine isn’t the answer to make you productive all the time. Sometimes, you have to be flexible in order to unleash your creativity.
Do you feel inspired during the hour you reserved for social media marketing? Don’t wait, go ahead and write! Don’t let following a routine stop you from following your inspiration when it hits.
If routine is your worst enemy, should you hate it?
Definitely not. As we mentioned before, the key is in finding the right balance. Too much flexibility can make you lost, and too much structure can crush you.
What I personally like to do is to keep the fixed routine minimal and try to make a TODO list with no specific time slots.
I currently have a two hours morning routine that involves having breakfast, reading a little bit and writing my plan for the day.
But for the plan, here’s how it usually looks like:
- Task 1 (2 hours)
- Task 2 (4 hours)
- Task 3 (30 minutes)
- And so on…
This allows me to have an idea of what I need to do and how long it should take, but also gives me the flexibility to do it whenever I feel comfortable with it.
Routine is your worst enemy if you don’t use it well, and a good friend if you do it in moderation.
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