The Importance of Routines: 3 Routines You Need to Establish

You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.

WINSTON S. CHURCHILL

I recently went to business conference where one of the speakers said, “systems protect you from you.” They were talking about the importance of creating a system that worked for you and set you up for success. A system that protects you from going back to “default” mode. This stood out to me and helped me realize the importance of having routines in life.

When we go into “default” mode, or autopilot, we can start feeling defeated. As if we’re back to square one, going around that same mountain, and having to start from scratch. Therefore, a system, or an intentional routine, is important.

Living in autopilot can make us feel like someone else is driving, not us. When we default to this version of ourselves, it feels like Groundhog Day. We start to feel as though we are living the same day every day. We don’t sense our purpose and are less motivated to do the things we actually want to do.

When people think about establishing a routine, they sometimes assume that it means to create a Groundhog-Day-lifestyle, but it’s quite the opposite. Intentional routines protect you from you. They protect you from becoming stagnant, set you up for growth and success, and revitalize you to live in purpose. Intentional routines are made up of habits that prepare you for your future.

Instead of living in autopilot, where life feels too predictable, repetitive, and, frankly, dull, I want to challenge you to establish the following three intentional routines. It will take some time, which is why a lot of people don’t want to go through with it. But if you’re tired of living in default mode, tired of letting life happen to you rather than making it happen, and tired of feeling stagnant, here are some tips to establish systems that protects you from you.  

3 INTENTIONAL ROUTINES YOU NEED TO ESTABLISH

Evening routine

It’s surprising how much free time and productivity you gain when you lose the busyness in your mind.

BRITTANY BURGUNDER

The first one is an intentional evening routine. Evening routines are the easiest to establish because most of us already have a winding-down process. For most people, that’s looking at their phones or watching television until they fall asleep. Research shows that our phones are the one object we’re in constant contact with all day, but even more, during the evenings.

Our phones are a dopamine-source. Doomscrolling is addictive. Watching television when you can’t fall asleep seems helpful. Yet, this chemical release that was designed in us to enjoy things in life is absorbed by our phones. When we overly pacify ourselves with our phones, we rob ourselves from the desire to get the same dopamine response to natural and healthy things in life. Things like eating nutritious foods, sex, exercise, and most importantly, socializing. These things become less interesting because phones provide a quicker dopamine-hit.

Along with this dopamine-information, it’s important to note that the blue light in our phones and other devices are harmful to our eyes. Blue light restrains the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle. Yet, even with this information, we still rely on our technology devices to lullaby us and help the time pass.

When we have intentional evening routines, we set ourselves up to improve our overall wellbeing. Not only does it give us a good night’s sleep, but it enhances our physical health and our mental and emotional health. Good sleep just makes us feel better! But insufficient sleep is linked to all kinds of health problems, so we owe it to ourselves.

Here’s what you can do starting tonight!

  • Go to bed one hour earlier than usual: just think about it, if you go to bed one hour earlier today, you will most likely feel better tomorrow morning.
  • Turn electronics off one hour before bed: this means that two hours before you sleep, all technology has been put away. You can put it on Do Not Disturb mode until your alarm goes off the next morning. You might have separation anxiety at first, but that’s why this next step is important.
  • Do something in place of using technology: your brain is most creative in the mornings and most analytical in the evenings. Exercise your analytical muscles by reading, writing, working on a puzzle, setting goals, or spending time with family.
  • Practice gratitude: take some time to reflect on what and who you’re grateful for.
  • Think, imagine, meditate: relax your inner tensions from the day’s stresses. Your mind and body were at work all day. Think and try to direct your thoughts to find focus. Let yourself imagine something new. Meditate on the goodness of God and His mercy that’s new every morning.

Morning routine

It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.

– ARISTOTLE

Everyone has a morning routine despite what the specifics look like. We will focus on and do what matters to us the most before heading out the door. It could be our must-have coffee, must-do makeup, a shower, or rolling out and running! Whatever it is, there are things we do routinely every morning before starting our day.

However, an intentional morning routine will set you up for success. Granted, it is more challenging to establish a morning routine, but the outcomes are rewarding! Mornings are the best time to get creative, energized, and prepared. That seems contradictory because mornings are difficult for most of us. The trick is to be intentional about it.

When you develop healthy and intentional habits in your morning routine, you’ll not only feel successful and accomplished, but you’ll become successful and accomplished. It’s an after effect; a result of intentionality. Mornings have been a little stereotyped. It’s as if you must be a “morning person” to like mornings, but that isn’t true!

An intentional morning routine can be as simple as making your bed, meditating for 5 minutes, and writing down one goal you have for the day. It doesn’t have to be written out to the minute, with a list of things you just check off, but rather intentionally thought through so that YOU are set up for success. You must do what is most helpful to you.

Once you’ve established your evening routine, start practicing an intentional morning routine. Everyone’s morning routine will look different, but the key is intentionality. In order to make it intentional, I recommend including the following:

  • Rise early: if possible, around or before sunrise
  • Move around: stretch, exercise, workout. Place your alarm across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off; right after turning it off, start stretching. Next, include a form of exercise before you officially start your day. If you prefer to workout in the evening, make that part of your evening routine.
  • Hydrate yourself: drink water as soon as possible, then go wash up or shower.
  • Accomplish: one task as simple as making your bed will motivate you to stay productive.
  • Meditate: take a moment to sit still, even if it’s for five minutes. Breathe deep and connect with yourself and God.
  • Nourish: eat breakfast (whether a full meal or an apple). This helps your brain and mind, your gut and metabolism, and your overall energy.
  • Create: mornings are the peak-time for creativity. Plan your day, work on a project, “eat the frog.”

Weekend routine

One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.

PAULO COELHO

Finally, create an intentional weekend routine that doesn’t make you feel like you lost time.

I like how AlmostTheWeekend put it in their website. They said: a weekend routine is a way to stop your weekends disappearing in the haze of chores and catch-up which stop you from doing the fun stuff or bigger projects you actually want to do. A weekend routine is not (or should not be!) a tightly scheduled, joy-killing way to manage your weekend.

There are three aspects you should consider when establishing a weekend routine:

  1. What needs to get done (your tasks, chores, events)
  2. What you want to get done (family time, relaxation, activities, friend time)
  3. When to get it done

When the end of your workweek comes around, a weekend routine is important to implement so that it doesn’t feel like the weekend vanished. By the time it’s Sunday, we often feel like we blinked twice and it’s time “get back in the grind.” But there is a way to have a productive weekend, while still finding time to relax and enjoy yourself.

Instead of living for the weekend, create an intentional routine that will help you feel more prepared for the week. Things will come up and life will happen, but ultimately, if you’re intentional about how you spend your time, you will feel protected by your own system. When this weekend comes around, take a few minutes during your evening routine to write down what needs to be done, what you want to have done, and when you’d like to do those things throughout your weekend. Don’t forget to intentionally schedule “time to relax.”

Remember, intentional routines are systems that protect you from going into autopilot mode.

Live with intention!

You have purpose!

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