- The most basic of starting points is to understand that it isn’t only children and pets who thrive on routine and limits. Adults who have many decisions about their needs and priorities already made, and a schedule or routine which reflects those priorities, have much more emotional and brain bandwidth available for not only their creative and innovative endeavours but also for the unexpected emergencies that come up in life.
- When we learn that there’s no one-size-fits-all routine available and that the best schedule is the one that works for us, we activate the imagination in finding schedules and guardrails we can not only live with but which soothe us in times of stress.
- Schedules remind us that we can’t possibly accept every project, invitation, or opportunity that’s offered to us, as much as we’d like to – as it simply won’t fit in the schedule – so we innately know there will be choices that must be made, and that “no” will often need to be said.
- Although we often think of schedules and routines as boring or limiting, they, in fact, are the backbone of responsible spontaneity – and allow much more flexibility than life without guardrails.
- Without self-soothing boundaries and schedules for ourselves, we intuitively know we aren’t safe, and that things will slip through the cracks. This is a fertile breeding ground for fear, self-doubt, and unfocused activity.
- Consistent bedtimes and sleep routines signal to the brain that it should prepare for rest, which is the bedrock of mental strength, memory formation, brain detoxing, creativity, increased energy levels, stronger relationships, better mental and physical health, and better problem-solving capabilities.
- And, finally, sleep routines based on one’s natural chronotype can help increase creativity, innovation, and happiness in both our work and in our lives.
So how do we translate these reasons into routines, schedules, and limits that serve us, rather than stifle us? Here is a sample guide:
- Use a planner – I use the Journey App – to set a mindful, intentional, and sustainable routine that aligns with both personal and professional priorities
- Learn which sleep chronotype you are
- Using the findings, set consistent sleep and wake times to maximise the benefits of rest in your life, as you also learn when you are at your best for your top priorities – and the best times to eat for your health
- Construct an evening routine that begins one hour before bedtime. Turn off screens, and shower, stretch, read, journal, practice yoga, listen to an audiobook or bedtime story on an app, etc. Experiment until you find the activities which work best for you
- Wake at the same time each day, and time block a healthy and stress-free morning routine, including eating, meditation, and movement. Again, signalling to your brain that your basic needs will be met, and prepares it for the day ahead
- Next, time-block the work day – ensuring that the tasks that move the needle are completed, whilst pushing out the mindless or time-wasting tasks that interfere with having a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, and which translate to the necessary financial rewards to sustain a lifestyle
- Follow an evening/after-work routine, as well, focusing on happiness practices including walks, a screen-free hour with loved ones or at the dinner table
- Once a week, take care of life admin tasks, such as laundry, homemaking, bill paying, applying the week’s spending into an app to track to a 50/30/20 budget, etc.
- Schedule date nights, lunches with friends, sports, spiritual activities, volunteering, etc
- Finally, schedule free time for television watching, scrolling, and doing nothing at all – or any other activity you want to enjoy with no guilt, as it’s important to have time that’s completely unplanned and unproductive
Once you’ll begin, you’ll be surprised at how many routines you already have in place, and how helpful you are in managing your time and resources.