9 Ways to Define a Routine That Works
When we look to define routine and what it means for our own lives to have a routine that works for us, we realize that a routine can come in many different shapes and sizes. We can have a weekly routine, a daily routine, and even various routines for each day of the week.
This has become a kind of burden, as there are just so many different things that we need to do in a certain order or we will fail at it. However, there is a way to deliver and use our knowledge safely, correctly, and reliably, and we can do that by learning not only to define routine in general, but to define our own routines as individuals.
So what is a routine?
We’ll define routine and teach you how to use it to your advantage each and every day.
What Is a Routine?
To define routine, in its most basic form, it is a set of actions (or just one action) that are done regularly or at specific intervals. For example, it may be somebody’s routine to play tennis each Saturday with a friend. That is one action being repeated each week.
Another person may have a complex morning routine involving waking up at 6 am, reading 15 pages of a book, taking a 10 minute shower, eating a healthy breakfast, etc.
Routines can be monthly, weekly, daily, or even hourly, but the idea is that it helps keep you organized, productive, and focused on your short and long term goals.
Here’s how to make a routine work for you.
1. Make It Personal
Your routine needs to work for you and you alone. You are doing it for yourself, not for anyone else.
And here is the perfect example:
If you want to succeed in the United States, everyone tells you that you need to wake up at 5:00 am because that’s the only time when you have some quiet time.
Where I live, I have quiet almost the entire day, so following up on that advice isn’t applicable for me. I can wake up at 8:00 am or 9:00 am and still have the same quiet time.
Some people find they are much more productive at night, so waking up early also wouldn’t be the best routine for them. Tap into your self-awareness and discover what will be the best action to add to your specific routine.
2. Do It Every Day
The easiest thing to skip is something that isn’t a habit. If you make your routine a habit, you will follow it every single day.
That’s why people have morning routines or night routines—once built, they are as hard to break as bad routines. Stick to your chosen routine every day for at least a month, and you should find that it becomes second nature.
You can see an example of a great morning routine below:
3. If You Can’t Create One, Find One
Routines are great if they serve you. If you define a routine but feel it isn’t quite working, then find other people’s routines and see what you can get from that.
You don’t need to copy-paste them, but read them for inspiration. Ernest Hemingway got drunk every night, but he woke up every morning, sat down at his typewriter at 9:00 am, and wrote for two hours.
I can (usually do) skip the drinking part, but the allure of the morning writing is the one which inspired me to create my “write 500 words a day” routine.
4. Create a Checklist
Our brains are fallible and forget things so easily, but if you create a checklist and have it on paper (phone lists work as well), you have it in written form and out of your head.
So get a checklist for your routine and get it out of your head. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Even the flight takeoff checklist is only 21 items, and they fly a plane.
Pick the most important elements and write them down for your routine.
When I publish my articles, I have the following routine (brand publishing document):
- Meta tag and keyword
- Grammar check
- Picture size in-text (560)
- Create cover photo in Canva
- MailChimp pop-up
- Color links in blue
- Read out loud once to spot faulty paragraphs and clunky sentences
For me, these are the most important elements when publishing articles on my website, but they don’t have to be for you.
5. Be Flexible With Time, but Rigorous in Implementation
When looking to define a routine that works for you, it’s crucial that you do every element from the list. However, you don’t have to maintain the same intensity every single time. Always do the task (read a book today), but you don’t always have to do the intensity (read 20 pages today).
Be rigorous when implementing the activity because that’s how you create a routine (and a habit), but the intensity doesn’t always have to be there. Just make sure that you do it because your brain values consistency.
Going once to the gym to exercise for 8 hours won’t make a difference, but going twenty times for 30 minutes most certainly will.
6. You Do It for the Flow
Don’t create a routine for the routine’s sake. Realize that it’s a tool for you.
Find a routine that will help you slip into a state of calm and focus. For example, before you sit down to work each day, maybe you take a short walk and drink a cup of coffee. This helps put you into a mindset that will more easily slip into a state of flow.
7. Always Follow the Process, Even If You Win
I did around 100 workshops successfully in two languages and 7 different countries in Europe, for audiences ranging from 20 to 250 people.
And to have that succeed and define a routine that was successful, I always followed the same process:
- Research the topic
- Write a session outline
- Fill in the details
- Create a PowerPoint presentation
- Rehearse once for the flow of the sessions
- Rehearse once to match the presentation with the talk
- Rehearse once to match the correct time it takes to cover elements of the talk
After I’d done it 100 times, I thought I knew what needed to be done, so I skipped the process. The next workshop was a 4/10 when it could have been a 9 or a 10/10.
Follow the process, even when you become successful, because that’s the thing that made you successful in the first place.
8. Make Stuff Happen Continuously
Imagine doing a safety check for plane lift-off 9,750 times and nothing happens. Would you do it for 9,751st time?
Most of us wouldn’t, but most of us aren’t Chesley Sullenberger, aka “Sully.” If the name sounds familiar, it is the pilot who landed an Airbus A320 in the Hudson River and saved everyone from the plane with 0 casualties. All 155 passengers and all of the crew members survived.
All of that happened not because he followed the routine that one time but because he followed the routine 9750 times before that.
9. Trust the Process
Imagine yourself in a room, and in front of you, you have an ice cube which you need to melt. The current temperature of the room is -2 Celsius.
You start running around to heat the room, exercising and making sure you create heat. Suddenly, the room goes to -1 Celsius, but you don’t notice it and continue doing your routine.
Then, after a little while, the room goes to 0 Celsius degrees, and you just need a little more heat for the ice cube to start melting.
The thing is that you can’t see the thermometer, and you don’t notice the increase in the temperature, so you conclude that your routine doesn’t work, and you lose it.
You later realize that you stopped a meter before the diamond mine. This is what happens when you don’t see the results immediately and think that your routine doesn’t work.
Stick with it for 6 to 9 months and see if it doesn’t work then. For example, going to the gym once won’t make you stronger, but going twice a week for six months certainly will. Reading one book won’t make you wise, but reading one book each month for a year will get you closer.
But if you do these actions consistently, you will get there.
When you are looking to define a routine that works for you and your life, remember that it will take experimentation, as well as dedication. It can take months before you see the fruits of a routine start to appear, so practice patience and don’t expect change from one day to the next. Simply trust that change is coming.
This article was written by Bruno Boksic who is a Lifehack’s Habit Expert. Bruno’s a former head of HR of a global organization, and the founder of Growthabit.com, a non-fiction book summary company.