Creating a Flexible Routine

We know the feeling all too well - you set a routine, it’s going great, then all of a sudden, you fall off the wagon. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a big way or a small way. Your mind sends you into a spiral of self-doubt and worry about how much worse you’ll get at following your routine, so you figure you might as well quit.

You read articles about how you NEED to have routine to be productive, to live a balanced life, to be organized, and you start repeating a story to yourself about how awful you are at life.

What if we told you that part of living a balanced life is knowing when to break your routine? Here are 3 tips on how to keep a routine, but make it flexible (to, you know, also allow yourself to actually LIVE):

 

  1. Identify the reasons for your routine
    What do you want to feel as a result of creating this routine (productive?successful?)? Are you trying to reach a goal? Are you trying to fit in everything that is important to you each day? Does a routine help with stability?

    Figure out your priorities - what 2-3 things do you NEED to include in your daily routine in order to feel productive/successful? What parts of your routine are more nonessential? You only have so much time in your day, so make sure you aren’t setting yourself up for failure by filling your routine with an unattainable list of tasks.

    When I (Beth) look at my day, it’s less about routine and more about my priorities. I have a list of tasks handy that I’d “like” to do each day - but realistically, if I tried to fit them all in, I’d never have time for anything else! I try to fit in 2-3 tasks per day, depending on what needs attention at the moment (taking care of my nails to prevent biting, doing household duties, reading, etc.). When I’m in my groove, I wake up to exercise in the morning, I work for a few hours, and then I explore somewhere new with Anthony in the afternoon.

     

  2. Hold Yourself Accountable - But Give Yourself a Break
    It generally takes between 18 and a whole 264 days to form a new habit, and only single-digit days to get out of it. That all seems really discouraging, because the fact is that your routine IS fragile. But here’s the most important question - do you want to feel good about yourself and feel successful at the end of each day?

    There is no need to feel self-loathing if you miss something essential to your routine for one day (or even two). Everyone needs a break. Sometimes, I sleep in instead of exercising, or I have extra work to do that prevents me from getting out to explore. It is OKAY to miss something in your routine for one or two days. Don’t let the first day off the wagon send you into a downward spiral! Take your off-day to re-evaluate your routine and spend time with positive self-talk, working yourself up to get back into the routine tomorrow!

     

  3. Re-evaluate how your routine is serving your lifestyle

    Sometimes, the routine you start with may just not be working for you. You don’t want to strictly follow a routine that isn’t a match for the lifestyle you want. Make sure to build time to reflect and re-evaluate into your daily or weekly routine. If you’re having extra trouble keeping even that routine task, just having this presence practice in your back pocket for when you start to doubt yourself can help tremendously.

    During your re-evaluation, ask yourself:

    • Do the actions I’m trying to take every day line up with my values in life?

    • What parts of routine give me energy? What drains my energy?

    • Are there things I want to be spending more time on in my day?

    • Do I feel successful after following this routine every day? If not, what needs to change?

 

Breaking or switching up your routine on occasion (and allowing yourself to do that without any negative self-talk) will also let some adventure in! Trust yourself, follow these tips, and don’t be afraid to live adventurously.

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