Wake up early. Eat breakfast. Take a shower. Get dressed. Head to the bus stop. Go to school. Come home. Do homework. Eat dinner. Play outside. Go to bed. Repeat!
Does that sound familiar to you? Most kids probably follow some sort of similar routine each day of the week during the school year. Adults also follow similar routines, simply replacing school with work, along with adding in several other reoccurring responsibilities throughout the day.
So what exactly is a routine? Why do we have them? Are they a good thing? Or can we get stuck in them?
A routine can be defined as a set or sequence of customary actions you follow on a regular basis. The cycle of repetition is usually daily or weekly. Parts of a routine become so automatic that you rarely have to think about them.
Most people follow certain routines because they have definite benefits. For example, making an activity part of a daily routine can limit procrastination and make sure the activity gets done. If it's a healthy activity, such as exercising or brushing your teeth, it's easy to see how doing such things routinely can be good for you.
Routines provide structure, order, and predictability. In doing so, they can also make life less stressful, since you can anticipate what's coming next. They also help you make sure that the important things in life take priority. When you put high-priority tasks into your routine, you tend to reach your goals more quickly than you might if you procrastinated.
Of course, routines can also have a downside. You've probably experienced the negative aspects of your routine on many Monday mornings, as the less-structured weekend comes to an end. Despite their positive aspects, routines can become boring.
When you fly through life on auto-pilot, simply following your routine without much thought, you can lose all sense of spontaneity. The routine life can fail to challenge you, since everything falls into the category of "been there, done that." Without challenges, it's hard to grow as a person.
So how do you retain the positive benefits of routines while avoiding the negative aspects? Experts suggest that you make high-priority, goal-oriented tasks part of a routine. However, don't be a slave to your routine. And don't turn every single aspect of your life into a routine. Leave free time open each and every day to allow yourself to be spontaneous and seize opportunities that will enrich and add fun to your life.
Be adventurous! Create a schedule that's flexible enough to allow you to do things that are creative and that excite you. Evaluating and changing your routines on a regular basis will reduce monotony and boredom, leading to a more satisfying and interesting life. Make your routines serve you, not the other way around!