Routines are important in everyone’s pursuit of excellence. A routine, or if you prefer a habit, lies right in the core of efficiency, thus increased productivity and potentially increased effectiveness. The truth is that I used to say that I hate routines. But over the last year I came to realise not only that routines are important but that I actually cannot live without them. Thinking of how that transition in my perspective happened, I created this post with my ideas around the matter.
Why routines are important
The most important thing about routines is not that you organise daily tasks in an optimal order. It is that they give you the chance to actually minimize the time that certain tasks take. The moment that a new habit is formed one or more decisions are eliminated. And in certain tasks, decision making takes the bulk of the total time of the task. It takes less time to dress up than to think what to wear. That’s why numerous top leaders and CEOs wear the same clothes every day – because they want to gain the time that the dressing code decision would otherwise take.
Mark Zuckerberg’s grey T-shirt is probably the most prominent example. And frankly I do the same thing, at least in principle. The difference is that I bought the same T-shirts not multiple times but in multiple colours – those are around 6-7. I mostly wear two pair of jeans, one black and one blue. And I have assigned each T-shirt colour to one of the two pair of jeans. If I choose the blue jeans, I will wear the purple or the turquoise or the red T-shirt, whereas if I choose the black jeans I will wear the green or the black or the grey T-shirt. The moment I choose a pair of trousers, then I take whichever of its respective colours I see first. How I choose the pair of jeans is determined heavily by the shoes and the shoes are determined by the weather (wet or dry day) and the schedule of the day (will I go to the gym or not, will I dine out or not, etc). For example, if it rains and I have scheduled to have dinner with a friend, then I will wear my black boots, which means that I will wear my black jeans, which consequently means that I will wear whichever of the green, black or grey T-shirts I come across first. Everything is automated and I don’t show up every day with exactly the same clothes.
If you time how long it takes to decide what to wear, you will realise that it can easily take 5 or even 10 or even more minutes. That’s the time you gain by eliminating that decision. For me, 5 minutes is how long I practice my handstand every day and 10 minutes is how long it takes me to create an Instagram post. In a way, either I will stare at my wardrobe or I will keep myself fit and my marketing in place. By treating everything this way, you can actually free up considerable amounts of time to allocate on priorities and move faster or things you love and enjoy more. Ideally, the things you love are also your priorities – if not, you can always work towards that direction.
Why you (should) love routines even if you think you don’t
I believe that every ambitious person loves routines. Even more than that, he needs them. They are essential for everyone striving to over-perform and judging himself against the best rather than the average. So, if you share that desire for exceptional achievements but you feel that you hate routines, I urge to look closer in to them. It is not the routine that you hate, it is the things that this routine consists of. If you feel that you hate routines it means that you do things that you don’t like and/or things that don’t bring you closer to your goals. Things that don’t engage your creativity but they keep you in a passive state instead. Things that don’t stimulate your mind and/or your body. Things that don’t engage your senses.
When I used to say that I hated routines, my thinking was that my everyday life was so organised to a degree that I could not stand, not because I had chosen it to be so but because there was no other away. Till I realised that it was not the fact that my days was so structured that I hated. I just hated the building blocks of that structured day. So I started replacing things I didn’t like but were replaceable with others that were bringing much more value, in the form of joy, pleasure, productivity, health, you name it, in my life. And I started working towards the direction of making any possible things that I didn’t want in my day but were irreplaceable, replaceable. Not only did I realise that routines are important, I also found out how much I do love them and I guess that this misconception might be common to other people out there.
Routine in an intelligent man is a sign of ambition – W.H.Auden
So, if your life is extremely organised and you feel you are suffocating, look closer into every single thing you do in a given day. Judge it against what it makes you feel and/or its contribution to your goals. If it doesn’t arouse positive or pleasant feelings nor does it help you towards higher goals, then change it. On the other hand, if your life is totally disorganized and you also feel it stagnant, I urge you to give a try putting some order in your days being extremely selective on what you do, how you do it and for how long you do it.
Thank you for reading! If you have any thoughts on what you just read, either good or bad ones, I would appreciate it if you leave a comment below and let me know. Feedback is invaluable in one’s strive for progress. And if you choose to share this post it would mean the world to me! Until soon!
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