Ever feel like you need to get something off your chest? Sometimes I’ve just gotta talk it out. That’s why I’ve decided to do a monthly feature called “Thoughts On…” At the beginning of the month, I’ll provide a prompt to stimulate discussion. The point is to get us to put our thoughts out there – writing it all down can be quite cathartic. If you want to keep your writing private, that’s your thing and I won’t question it. If you’re ready to put it all out there, I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments. At the end of the month I’ll provide my own thoughts on the topic of the month. Think of it as a book club for writing.
I may not be in school anymore, but late August/September still has that back to school feeling. Even at my job, this month is all about getting back into a more structured work environment so I’ve been thinking about routines, lately.
I am a creature of habit. I do well when I have structure in my life. Sure, I can think outside the box, but I need a routine to keep me motivated. Take working out, for example. If I’ve got a routine going, I can get myself to the gym several times a week. The second that routine is broken (if, say, I go out after work and can’t bring myself to wake up early the next morning) it’s all shot to heck. This is why I haven’t gone to the gym in weeks and have taken to wearing billowy tops to hide my spare tire. Cool.
I like being spontaneous, but I’ve also learned that I like the feeling successfully completing a routine gives me. When I follow a routine, I tend to wind up with more time. For example, when I have a pre-work routine of making coffee, checking the news, and doing my hair at specific times (vs. just waking up and figuring it out as I go), I end up leaving earlier. Knowing I’ve accomplished so much before even leaving my apartment makes me feel good and then I have extra time to do whatever – the routine leaves room for spontaneity. Some people may not need a routine to get them moving and that’s great. You go around getting stuff done at your leisure, and I’ll keep myself in my routine so I’m not a giant ball of stress when we meet.
It seems obvious that a routine can help you be more productive at work, but I also like building routines into my social life. The reason, though, is completely different. Pre-boyfriends, Danielle and I would hang out every Friday evening, drinking wine, eating takeout, and watching tv. Technically, it was a routine that we fell into, but it felt just like a nice tradition. And traditions give me the warm fuzzies. We may now have men in our lives but we still like to resurrect our Friday night ritual because there was comfort in seeing each other regularly. Knowing a friend is right there, ready and waiting, makes me feel save and happy. I would feel a little caged if my social life was built entirely around such routines, but it’s nice to have them mixed in.