I have been discovering the power of routine lately. My friend and I rented a small office space on the outskirts of downtown Salt Lake. The building it’s in is quite interesting. It was built at least 30 years ago, and it’s age shows, but the current owners have great plans and have been slowly renovating it.
When my wife Jieun and I first discussed renting this space, we were concerned about how much time I would spend here instead of with my kids and her, so we decided I would come here on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings, and then the rest of the week would be spent with the family. That worked, kind of. I still felt like I wasn’t getting enough family time, the kids were going to bed later and later, and Jieun was often asking me to come home early because she’s pregnant and has morning (actually late-afternoon) sickness.
So I decided I would come in to the office in the mornings, and that I would come in every weekday instead of just Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. So for the last two weeks, I’ve been consistently waking up earlier and getting to the office between 7 and 7:45 every morning. This new routine has helped me restart my blog (after 2 years of it being a maintenance page), it’s helped me find time to re-evaluate my career and also decide what side projects I’m going to work on, and I just feel more productive and happier.
My kids, too, thrive when we stick to routine. In our home I usually get the privilege of putting our kids to bed at night. We head upstairs (often with some resistance) to get into the tub. After my girls are all washed up, they get dressed and put on some lotion, then brush their teeth. Then we read a couple of bedtime stories, say our prayers, and then listen to a couple of children’s hymns. If we follow this routine, I’m usually able to step out and let them fall asleep on their own, but when we don’t follow the routine, it’s a nightmare trying to get them to settle down.
A friend of mine (Christy Namee Eriksen) has been doing something that, in my opinion, is pretty remarkable. Every single day she tries to create something, whether it’s a drawing, a crafting project, or a new website. Then she takes a picture and uploads that to instagram and her blog and such. So far she’s done something every single day for almost seven full months. I haven’t talked to her about how she feels things are going, but I can tell that she enjoys creating new things and I know she has some pretty amazing projects in the works that may have never happened if she hadn’t started her #createdaily routine.
While routines can be powerful in bringing about good, they can also be very degrading and can slowly rot you to the core. Imagine the routine of taking a smoke break every few hours every day, or the routine of watching reality TV every night, or the routine of going to the bar every night. Consistently eating junk food or indulging in other physical pleasures will make you lazy, eat at your will power, and even cause physical or mental illness.
I’m not saying that eating a bag of salty, greasy potato chips while watching your favorite TV show every once in a while is going to kill you, or even that that’s necessarily bad. It’s just become apparent to me that I need to be more aware of my routines, and consciously, actively work to create good routines. Doing so is increasing my will power, bringing order to my life, and helping me be happier over all.