Earlier this year I wrote a blog post about the top 3 ways to establish a routine. In my own experiments with trying to create routine, I discovered that I was doing something very wrong. Furthermore, what I was doing caused my attempts to establish a routine to fail, over and over again.
There were so many things I wanted to do and not enough time in a day. I would say to myself, “Monday I’m going to start doing these three tasks before work everyday.” I wouldn’t stop there. I would continue with, “And when I get home from work I’m going to do this at 4pm and this at 5pm, then this other thing at 8pm.”
As per usual, I was setting myself up for failure. It’s something I do a lot. I have unrealistic expectations which can be prevalent in today’s society. Once the light bulb in my head lit up and I realized this, I knew that it was time to start setting myself up for success. After all, if I wanted success, I couldn’t keep failing myself. I believed in myself enough to know I could do anything I set my mind to, the trouble was setting my mind.
What was I doing wrong?
There were two things I did wrong when I tried to create routine in my life.
First, I tried to change too many things at once. I expected myself to wake up on a Monday (of all days) and change everything about the way I normally lived my life. I wanted to write, workout, meditate, change my diet, etc. and start it all right away. I was convinced that was the only way and if I couldn’t make it work then I wasn’t trying hard enough or didn’t want success bad enough. So, when I didn’t fall in line and obey my own strict policies, I told myself that I sucked.
Secondly, I didn’t allow myself any flex time. By planning something to do at 4pm everyday when I work at a job that lets out just 30 minutes before that, I had no wiggle room. Sometimes I have to stay at work late. Or sometimes I need to pick up dinner, or go out to dinner, or it’s date night… You catch my drift? Anytime I worked through my “routine task” time, I either pushed that task back or skipped it all together. Oh and I also told myself that I sucked for not completing it.
I guess that brings about a third point…
Negative self-talk is not your friend.
Beating yourself up for anything is doing more harm than good. Making changes to your daily lifestyle can be challenging especially if you try to do it all at once. Go easy on yourself. It’s not an easy lesson to learn.
How to Create Routine
When forming new habits, breaking old ones or changing your lifestyle in any way, it’s important to take things slow. I took things one week at a time. First I started with reading more (as a form of meditation) and eating healthier. I recently discovered that I was lactose intolerant and being that I ate a lot of dairy products, my system was in for a huge shock. After I gave my body about three weeks to adjust, I added something else.
I had been struggling with writing every day. So I signed up for 750words.com which encourages me to stay on track. Now, I’ve been at that for a week. Next, I plan to add yoga to my routine. So as the weeks go by, I will adjust accordingly instead of trying to do it all at once.
Lastly, I don’t set a time for any task. I allow myself to flex. Sometimes I can draft a blog post in an hour. Other times, I need to draft it one night and come back to it the next. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be able to publish anew blog post up here every day. However, I don’t wish to burn myself out. Even the smallest of steps in the right direction…are still steps in the right direction.
Looking for Ideas? (Further Reading)
The internet is filled with dozens of articles telling you, “The top 20 things you must do every day to stay healthy,” and “15 things to do daily to be smarter.” But if you’re looking for a summation of all of them and a good laugh, please check out Sara Kloek’s “95 Things I Should Do Every Day According to the Internet.” #34, #56 and #57 made me laugh out loud!
Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores, sushi restaurants, and small town cafes.