I have been resisting routine for a very long time, partly unconsciously but also with every fibre of my conscious being. I am Spanish, so you would be forgiven for assuming that I am programmed to be laid back and spontaneous. Whilst not everyone in Spain is blissfully chilled, there definitely is a difference pace of life, a more start-stop attitude than the go, go, go that is so common in the UK. Then of course we all like to think that we are spontaneous and go with the flow.
Well, I like to think so anyway. I am laughing as I write this, because although most of my friends will agree to some degree, I know that any friends I have worked with will be raising their eyebrows and shaking their heads in disbelief, or just laughing because they think I am so organised. Yes, I am talking especially about you, Daisy! Daisy actually once told me that if I was in Friends I would be Monica, which I took as an insult and even ten years later I still bring it up every now and then to try to persuade her I am in fact Rachel (I know Phoebe would be pushing it way too far).
The truth is that I am 100% naturally disorganised. Yep, that is right! Ask my mum and she will tell you how messy I am. However, at work I have had to learn every trick in the book to combat my messy and spontaneous tendencies. I have a monthly planner, a weekly to do list, a daily to do list, I set alarms on my electronic calendar,... I know it may sound like too much, but that is what I need!
In my private life I have always had a much more relaxed attitude. I like to leave the decisions until the last minute, and something as simple as what I have for breakfast changes every single day. For a long time I was revelling in it, thinking it was giving me so much flexibility and it meant I did what I wanted when I wanted to. The reality is that all those decisions were stressing me out and the freedom to do what I wanted was working against me. In fact, there are some real benefits in creating routine in your life.
More headspace for what is important
When there is no routine, you have to make so many small decisions. Do I want a smoothie or toast for breakfast today? Shall I have a shower before or after breakfast? Do I walk or drive to the office? I suspect that most people have a morning routine. They get out of bed and they get ready on auto-pilot. I had completely lost mine and those questions were my internal dialogue from the second the alarm went off until I left through the door an hour later. Re-introducing some structure allow me to have more free time to think about other things that are important.
It may sound unnecessary, but if needed, write down every single thing you will do when you wake up and add timings next to it. Once you get into the swing of it you will do it automatically and because it is the same every day there is no worry that you will be late.
Unwinding in the evening
This is my achilles heel, and a nut I haven't cracked yet, the evening routine. I have had trouble sleeping all my life because my mind is very active at night and because I am a worrier. As soon as I get into bed a lightbulb lights up in my head and I start going through everything that has happened that day, what may happen the next day, and a long etcetera. I know that if I had a good evening routine it would help me enormously to make the transition between being active to a more passive state that would lead to restful sleep. Unfortunately, just knowing what you need to do doesn't mean that you will do it well, so this remains a challenge for me.
What successful people have in common
There is a blog called Barking up the wrong tree that I regularly read. It has so many interesting posts about development and motivation, and there is a weekly digest that you can subscribe to. Earlier this year I read a post about what successful people had in common and routine was actually one of them. Unfortunately I can't find the post to link it.
Having a routine puts you in control of your day, and when we feel in control we are more confident about what we think we can achieve, we are calmer, we can plan, take action and ultimately achieve our goals more effectively. It gives you a very solid foundation and actually allows you to be more flexible and more welcoming of the unexpected!
Really, having some routine in your day, whether it is at work or at home, doesn't have to be something boring. It is just a tool to make you enjoy the rest of the time much more by allowing you to pay those moments more attention.
This has been quite a different post from some of the others I have written, and I am not sure how interesting you will find it. When I started this blog at the beginning of the year I did it with the intention to write about things I loved, and I love to think, sometimes too much, so I think these more reflective posts may make an appearance every now and then to balance out talking about red lipstick as if it was going to change your life! I hope you enjoyed it and if you have any feedback I would really appreciate it.
Thanks for reading!