Humans thrive on routine. We’re creatures of habit. So why do we sometimes feel trapped in our day-to-day activities? Why do we lament another routine day—the same old, same old? How many times have you felt like you were in a rut, anxious for a change of pace and a different view?
Summer break often gives us the change of pace we think we need. By the time school comes to a close both parents and children are usually burned out from the school routine. Yet, having no routine is often even more exhausting. By the time summer break is over, most of us are eager for the school year to begin. We often say how nice it is to get back into our routine. But is this new routine the best routine for you, or will it also drain your energy over time?
How can you get into a routine that gives you the security of consistency, while still allowing for occasional surprises and personal growth? Here are three questions to help you evaluate your daily routine, so you can carve a path that’s all your own—a path that takes you where you want to go. If you take time to thoughtfully answer these three questions, you’ll thank yourself for years to come.
1. What are the most important aspects of my life?
Devote a notes page or a monthly tasks page to answering this question so you’ll have it readily available for reference. Start with a list—your spouse, children, friends, your faith, your talents, art, fitness, music, dancing, the outdoors, etc. Get specific—it won’t take long to fill a page. Refer to this list often as you make your daily plans.
2. Am I devoting enough time to the things that matter most to me?
That list you just wrote can feel overwhelming as you consider how you’ll fit it all into your daily routine. This is where planners change lives. Look over your list and determine which items on your list are A-priority items—things that need daily attention. This list would include your spouse, children, employment, and so on. These are items that you would add to your daily tasks.
As you plan your daily tasks, ensure that these A-priority items are included. Perhaps one day you plan to study with a daughter, prepare a meal with your spouse, and attend your son’s recital. Before long, you’ll notice that you’ve devoted time to your top priorities. Now with the time you have remaining, determine which other items from your list you’d like to add to your day.
As you look over your master list, you’ll notice that some things simply fall into their place as you attend to the most important items first. In time you’ll develop a routine that includes daily, weekly, and monthly activities that lead to personal growth and quality together time with those you love. Your routine will become rewarding.
3. What specific action can I take to increase the quality and quantity of time I spend doing what matters most?
As you look over your list, chances are, you’ll find things that you want to improve—areas that could use some focused attention. Whether you want to improve your physical endurance, develop a talent further, or focus on your upcoming retirement, your planner can help ensure you reach those goals.
Determine a specific act that will bring you closer to your goal and set a date when you will complete that action. Write the completed activity in your planner on the day you plan to achieve it. Break that activity down into small, steps that you can complete in a day and schedule each step in your planner starting this week and ending on your completion date.
Working these more meaningful activities into your daily schedule will break up your routine and help you feel that sense of accomplishment you’re looking for. As you focus your time and efforts on the things that matter most to you, you’ll find that your everyday routine is anything but mundane. It can be refreshing, exciting, and fulfilling even if it includes the same general activities day after day. After all, those daily activities will be the things that mean the most to you.
This won’t happen overnight, but with consistent effort, you’ll start seeing significant results as the days and weeks add up. Keep at it and your daily routine will become a life path that takes you exactly where you hope to go.