As a creative person, I resisted the idea of routines for a long time. I hate being told what to do and when to do it, and I feared that a routine would make me feel restricted.
The reality, however, is that flexible routines have been my lifeline, providing me with a framework that allows me to focus on what is most important to me.
Best of all, dedicating time to specific, high impact behaviours has given me an insight into the fact that there are enough hours in the day to achieve what is required to lead a fulfilled life.
Let’s unpack that opening paragraph as there are some key themes there:
1. Flexible routines work best
Does a ‘flexible routine’ sound like an oxymoron? Should ‘freedom’ and ‘routine’ exist in the same sentence?
Stacey T, contributing writer to Keeper of the Home explains it like this: “Just as our backbones flex and move according to how we need our body to perform, we also need our routines to be flexible so that, as the day happens, we can move with it, adjusting and modifying as necessary, and still get the most important things done”.
For example, you could plan to exercise from 6 until 7am, but when you wake up sluggish at 6:10am your routine is already derailed and you are likely to start your day with a sense of urgency or upset.
However, if you plan to exercise every morning and you adjust your workout to fit the time available, then you will still achieve this high impact behaviour without the stress of missing a strict 6am start.
So, with only half an hour to exercise, you may choose to do a session of interval running. With an hour to exercise, you may factor in some stretching or meditation or a longer, slower run.
2. High impact behaviours should serve as your waypoints
It is easy to fill your day with ‘busy work’ – activities that take time but have little impact on your personal or professional success. If your routines are focused on outcomes, then your time will be better spent.
For example, you have a meeting with your team every Monday morning.
Here are some high impact behaviours that you might practice during that meeting: (a) careful use of time; not allowing conversation to go off on a tangent (b) mindfulness; focus on key topics and the dynamics between team members (c) focus on clarity; demanding clear allocation of responsibilities, real-time decision-making and a breakdown of immediate next steps.
Good results will follow if you focus on high impact behaviours. Let the former serve as your waypoints, allowing you to navigate towards your purpose.
By setting your priorities, you will quickly and easily know what things you can let go, should an unexpected circumstance throw your routine off balance. You feel a sense of peace and control throughout the day, knowing that you have the most important things covered
3. 24 hours a day is enough
In order to establish a routine, you need to know what your priorities are. By making sure that your most important priorities are in place in your routine, you can then add other desired activities.
By setting your priorities, you will quickly and easily know what things you can let go, should an unexpected circumstance throw your routine off balance. You feel a sense of peace and control throughout the day, knowing that you have the most important things covered.
What may also be surprising is that, once you know what your priorities are and what high impact behaviours are required to support those priorities, you will also begin to identify the other time-consuming elements exist in your life.
The next step is to eliminate them … and enjoy the benefits of a day filled with activities that matter. You will see that 24 hours are enough to achieve what you desire.