Why are routines important? How do accumulated habits turn into a routine in the long run? And how can you tailor a routine for yourself?

In the previous article, we learned what role routine can, and does, play in the lives of successful people. In this second part of the article, we will discuss how habits turn into a routine. We will also determine how to design a routine that works for you. And what are the methods to keep yourself accountable and follow up with a routine.

Habits: The foundation of a routine

Though often mistaken as similar concepts, there is some difference between habits and a routine.

If you remember reading about habits in some of my previous articles you might remember that habits are automatic behaviors that can be beneficial or detrimental for us. Whereas a routine is made out of a mostly positive set of habits & behaviors, takes effort to follow, and is designed to help us achieve success in the various domains of life.

So, a routine, in effect, is a string of habits a person creates for specific parts of his or her day. It requires deliberate intentions and actions to be completed since it does not come naturally to us. And habits are what, over time, help establish these routines. Because we associate certain habits with a time of the day, and these associations join together so that we get a series of actions we must undertake, and voila! You’ve got a routine to follow.

Habits also greatly influence whether you are going to follow up with your routine or not. Your habits affect your mood, which then creates the inertia for tasks you are going to undertake later.

How to make a “perfect” routine

Follow the steps given below, and create a solid and effective routine for yourself:

  • Know your goals

Start with the end goal in mind. What do you want to achieve following this routine? Without knowing what your needs are, you will never be satisfied with your day. Knowing that what you are doing is in some form helping you advance your life is a great motivator.

  • Structure your day

Divide your day into blocks of time. Most successful people have a subroutine for their mornings, another for their working hours, an effective night-time ritual, plans for days where they have to exercise meetings, and for parts of days where extra work (read: parties) comes up. That way, even if some part of their routine does not go according to plan, it doesn’t affect the rest of their day.

  • List specific actions

When making a routine, go for specific actions then a general direction of them. For example, do not just list exercise in the morning. List “go for a 2-mile run at 6 a.m.”, or “do 5 sets of 10 push-ups at 7 in the evening”.

  • Schedule some time for relaxation

In this frenzy for bettering yourself and your life, do not forget about self-care. It is significant that you do something spontaneous, entertaining, and exhilarating so that your routine remains enjoyable.

To each their own

Now, to make a routine for yourself, you must remember that there is no panacea for success. No one perfect routine following which you can achieve success. A routine is a personal ritual and must be treated as an extension of oneself.

There must also be room for improvisation. You cannot set your routine in rigidity because then that routine would turn into a cage. Things change, so do people, you might shift your goals, or there might be a pandemic that tilts your life upside down. To put it frankly, shit happens. And to deal with it, you must be ready to adapt and improvise. So, keep enough space in your routine to help you improvise, when needed.

How to fully commit to a routine

“Be flexible with timing, but rigorous in the implementation of your routine.”

Being mindful of what you are doing is a great practice. You can do so by maintaining a daily journal or by investing in some sort of visual aid (poster or whiteboard). This keeps your goals and your routine in front of your eyes. It also creates a sense of accountability.

Committing to a routine requires motivation, discipline, and a positive approach. But most importantly, it requires daily action and regular implementation. Once you become consistent with your habits, the routine would itself become easy to follow.

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