The importance of routine


Artwork from my kid’s school. Uncertain of the artist, but loved it.

So, over the last two months, I’ve had “blog block.” I just made that up. I don’t know if its a common term, but you know… like writer’s block: where you sit down to write and NOTHING comes up? Well for me, plenty of ideas have been popping into my head, but what has blocked me from sitting down to write, is my complete lack of routine.

A few posts ago I spoke about time, and how important it is to make time for creativity and for the things that you truly love; that nourish your soul. As summer came to a close and all things school began, once again, my groove that I had just gotten comfortable with, changed. Our routines can evolve every season, every year, possibly even more frequently depending on what’s happening in our lives. Particularly if you have little kids, routines are like bouncy balls sometimes, reacting differently with each surface they touch and eventually bouncing further and further away. With constant experimentation in new activities, volatile emotions and people falling asleep in weird places, schedules and expectations seemingly vanish like that first, delicious glass of wine.

What do we do?

I decided to make routine building a priority. Awhile back, a friend of mine told me she was getting up at 5am and doing the miracle morning routine from Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM). I‘m a morning person, so this intrigued me. If you don’t know the book, it basically outlines a morning routine that the author came up with after experiencing some major trials in his life. After reaching rock bottom both financially and emotionally, he decided to take healing into his own hands, and integrated several proven, personal development methods into an hour long morning practice. The routine includes things like affirmation, meditation, visualization, reading, exercise and writing, all based on 10 minute increments (or whatever you decide for you.) Don’t get annoyed, but it totally works. I wake up excited, make tea or coffee, and focus on ME and organizing my thoughts for the day, before anyone else is awake. That is the key, being alone with your thoughts so you can actually process them before the hurricane of the day hits. I did this for two whole weeks straight!

Then… we all got sick. Oh, and I traveled. And then I was tired. Poof, my magic routine vanished again. But, that’s ok! I’ve just realized that this is an ongoing, lifelong project. We experiment with routines, we embrace what sticks and let go of what doesn’t. We evolve. We also forgive ourselves if we don’t do the exact same thing, the exact same time everyday. What’s really important, is carving out a basic structure, or routine, that allows us the time to do the most important things in our lives while providing a sense of ease to ourselves and our families. This includes flexibility and time to get lost… as long as we find our way back again.

For me, coffee with friends, yoga, creative thinking (insert reading, art, writing) and time with my kids is non-negotiable (and they all spawn creativity!) It may not happen all in the morning, it may not happen everyday, but it does happen over the course of every week, and I fight for it. As for the book, I decided to alter my “miracle morning” and try out this precious early time for blogging. Truthfully, (for me) I feel that writing encompasses most of the personal development practices he mentions, anyway. So bam! I’m getting it done!

Summary: routine can change your life. It can keep those things most precious to you close, and allow you to let go of the extraneous. It can save you time from trying to remember what to do each day. It can make your brain work better. It can improve your outlook on life and the world. It can allow your creativity to expand to its fullest potential. Many successful, creative people were/are avid routine followers: Maya Angelo, Benjamin Franklin, Sigmund Freud, Oprah Winfrey, Beethoven, and on and on… check out this fun article showing some of their morning schedules.

And as the sun is coming up, I’m done. Whatever your routine is, “keep calm, and use the force.”