I talk about Routines often, OK, all the time. Why? Because Routines are great! Creating a Routine helps us prioritize and order our necessary tasks. Sticking with our Routine takes care of regular maintenance items. Routines free us from time-wasting decision-making. They are vitally important to our every day success.
However, there is a darker side of routines. Buried in “Routine” is “rut”. As in, “When we do the same thing over and over again, we can get stuck in a rut”. We can lose sight of Why we do what we do, and then our routine starts to run us, instead of the other way around. Sometimes, we have to look at our current practices and make sure they’re working for us. And if they aren’t, it’s time for a change.
How do you know your current Routine works?
- You feel comfortable with your schedule most days. Even when you are busy, you don’t worry that you are forgetting a task or appointment.
- You allow for flexibility in your schedule, to accommodate travel time between appointments, special events or requests, spontaneity and minor emergencies. Then you get back on track.
- You can easily explain your time management practices to others.
- You get things done.
- You have time for work, relationships, hobbies or passions, etc.
- You are good with deadlines and appointments, and you are on-time most of the time.
If you are wincing at any of the above questions, it’s time to re-assess your time management and Routine.
“How’s that working for 'ya?”
I’ve been working with a client who struggles to complete tasks. I suggested she use a planner and to-do lists to help her get things done. She asked me Why she had to make a change?, because she really did not want to. As her professional organizer, my obvious answer went something like “well, let’s see, life without a planner or lists – how’s that working for ya?”
If you are missing deadlines, forgetting or re-running errands, spending more money than you need to, or feeling overwhelmed and out of control at least once a day, your current practices are not working, and YES, it is time to re-assess your time management and Routines. I know new practices may seem intimidating, but soon they will be routine, too.
Do you know the story of the Frog and the hot water? The adage says that if you put a frog in hot water, he will jump right out. But if you put the frog in cold water then slowly heat the water, he’ll not jump out, and will boil. We notice an abrupt problem, but not always a gradual decline.
Don’t Boil the Frog, or yourself. Review then re-commit to your routine regularly.
Lately, I have not stuck with my own Routine components of
1. Getting in the shower upon waking (very important for me to get in early, so I can get my boys up and ready for school);
2. Taking my vitamins every day (I feel so much better when I do the right thing); and
3. Exercising (also, so important and usually the first thing I abandon when the schedule gets busy). So I need to get back to all three of those things, and I started this morning.
I also realized that the things I have let slide are for my own health, and since it is bad when Mom gets sick as there is no one left to tend the family, I am also committing to completing the vitamins / exercise / weight watchers log-in tasks by 10 am every day.
If you notice things slipping, make sure the task that is slipping is still important, and then spend a few days focusing on completing that task until it again becomes Routine.
Break Your Own Rules: occasionally break your routine to get non-routine tasks done.
Last Thursday, I realized that my regular routine was not allowing a couple of really important projects to get done, so I ditched the Routine and powered through those important things just to get them done and into someone else’s hands. Then I caught up with my regularly scheduled life.
If I find that I am regularly breaking out of my daily Routine just to get things done, then I have to ask myself 2 questions: 1. Do I allow enough time in my daily schedule and Routine to get all my tasks done? And if not, 2. Do I need to reconfigure how I spend my time? Which leads me to….
Life changes, and so should your routine.
Our schedule has gotten crazy lately with 3 boys in 3 sports, in addition to everything else we do. I love that my boys are involved in sports, but our 3-7 pm block of time, the time I usually use to make dinner, catch up on paper work, make client calls and take care of home business is now spent at games.
I recognize this fact, and have consciously decided to let Routine slide on some days to get business tasks like billing and writing done. I assure myself that volleyball season is fleeting, and in 6 weeks, when all is done, I’ll be sad it is over. For now, though, forgive me if I respond to your phone call or email from the bleacher seats (thank goodness for my smart phone)!
Sometimes changes are more long-term, not just a sport season but for life, like a new baby, new job or retirement, etc.. Use that transition time to reflect on your daily tasks and determine how to make things get done, around your new schedule.
So, Routines are the best time management tool ever, but even the best tool needs occasional adjustment. Be aware of how you spend your time, and how you want to spend your time, and make sure the two match up!
This is part of the Nov. 1 edition of Colleen CPO's Blog.