Many people tell you routines are important.

For those of you who are already sticking to routines, you understand the importance of them.

However, if you have not been able to make use of routines, you might be interested in this article and see how much it can help you.

Why not everyone likes routines?
  • “Brush your teeth every morning”, “Remember to bring your keys when you leave”, “Sleep at 11 pm every night”, “Always finish your daily paperwork at your job by 4 pm”, “Kiss your children before bedtime every night”…  Sounds daunting?
  • Some people hate routines because they were brought up being nagged by people who preached routines. It is very true that if you don’t see the importance of a routine, you will likely grow up hating the concept.
  • The word “routine” has also become a synonym of boring and mundane. Some people believe in “winging it”.  They are proud of themselves on being able to work out everything on the fly.

Sure, this event-driven method often seems to work, but what some people don’t realize is that this style is also creating the problems that they have been solving using the same “skill”.

Yet, having said that, there should always be a balance – there should be room for flexibility, spontaneity, and creativity, in combination with routines.

How can you make effective use of routines?
(1) Routines create simplicity.

Do you often have to lock your car more than once?  Then do you have to walk back to your car, again and again, to check if the doors are locked?  Do you want to change that?

Create a routine and make it stick – this often depends on whether you believe this specific routine works well.

Think about why you end up having to lock your car 4 times.  This often means you were distracted when you pressed the button, and thus, you didn’t remember whether you locked your car.  Then the same thing happened again, even when it’s the second time that you returned to the car to check if you locked it.

To solve the problem?  All you need is to have a habit to consciously think about the fact that you are locking your car.  While you are doing that, add in remembering a bit about your environment (a) to help not get confused if this incident is now or 2 days ago when you parked your car somewhere else, and (b) to help you remember where your car is.  And if you believe this solution works, you will also very quickly remember to ensure you think consciously about locking your car.

(2) Routines help speed and accuracy.

Of course, there is the side of taking free kicks in football/soccer continuously, day in and day out, you become David Beckham (at least the skill level of him).  But most are not motivated enough to do that (but if you are, congrats to you).  However, for many small things, having a routine helps you do the task more accurately.  For example, always leave home by a certain time to go to work to avoid traffic, and still have contingency plans in case you can’t.  Even creative tasks can have elements of routine.  A creative painter may have to be always spontaneous with the ideas of what to paint.  Yet they still need a routine to mix their color palette to ensure the accuracy of their colors.

(3) Routines actually help you “wing it”.

“Winging it” often happens in emergency situations.   There are many complex problems in tight situations, and people often have to think quickly.  All creative process, however, starts with knowing basic routines, then accumulate to creative complex solutions.  Coming up with a chess move starts with evaluating and weeding out moves that will immediately lose; then decide on a move using various basic concepts like pinning the opponent’s piece in place, or fork attack 2 pieces at the same time.  A master of the task often accumulates these basic ideas into a final product that is brilliant.  Debugging a programming process usually involves a divide-and-conquer routine to breakdown and to troubleshoot the problem.

(4) Routines help you keep track of big tasks that otherwise is difficult to keep track.

Some jobs are usually different every day, which is usually the case for any managerial position.  Supposedly, you have to plan out a project that involves 100 tasks in 100 days.  Without setting a routine such as do one task every day, it’s likely that you will end up with 80 tasks to do in the last 14 days.  It’s because there are often so many “urgent” things that must be done along the way, and you cannot get yourself to start working on a piece of the project with 100 tasks.  Setting a routine makes this “one task per day” categorize as one of the urgent things, and therefore, you will prioritize it into the daily routine.

Of course, there will still be days that you have to miss the task.  But when that happens, it means that on the next day, the 2 tasks from this project are more important and therefore, you should prioritize to finish them.

(5) Routines help you remember things that happen infrequently and hard to remember.

Looking ahead on your calendar can help you remember any infrequent  For example, in June, there’s Father’s Day.  If you check the calendar at the beginning of June, you will make sure you don’t forget, and you may want to plan a Father’s Day’s trip.  Maybe if you forget to check, this day will become your quarterly business meeting or your son’s upcoming playoff game.  Have a routine to look ahead on your calendar.  Maybe learn to have a routine to plan your daily, monthly and yearly tasks.


With love,

Cecilia Or

Always Remember Why Inc.

Always Remember W.H.Y.

Be Well, Be Happy, Be You