When I first started creating routines, I thought I had to follow them with COMPLETE FIDELITY. Any deviation from the routine meant I did it wrong and that the routine was a failure. This was my anxiety talking, though.
What I’ve learned over the years is that the best routines are adaptable. They build in room for flexibility. Because, if you think about it, life doesn’t always stay the same. There are unexpected events like the coronavirus outbreak, but there are also minor events that pop up from time to time.
Maybe your child got sick and you had to pick them up from school. Maybe your work hours changed just a tad. Even small life changes can have big consequences if they’re not handled well.
That’s where adaptable routines come in
Adaptable routines are routines that, well, allow you to adapt to whatever happens. (Yes, I know I just used the same word in the definition. I’m sorry.)
Here is how I go about creating an adaptable routine
I define what the core routine is. What is it exactly that I’m creating a routine for? This seems obvious, but I’ve found that sometimes my routines blend together, and I actually have multiple routines at once. What I need is to be completely clear about is what I’m trying to optimize. Is this a breakfast routine, or is this a calming-down routine? Is this a work routine, or is this a post-work wrap-up to help me prepare for the next day? The more specific you can get with the routine, the better.
What’s the minimum I can do to still call this a routine? For instance, if you have a workout routine, you might ideally want to get to the gym and spend 30 minutes there. But what happens if you can’t? What is the minimal amount of gym-routine activities you can do to still call it a gym routine? 50 push-ups? Walking around for 5 minutes? Think about it. Don’t let your routines blow up simply because the world does.
Evaluation is key. Do you have evaluation built into your routines? This is where you really fine-tune the adaptability. Lots of people don’t think evaluation is actually a core part of important activities–but it absolutely is. You always need to be evaluating what you’re doing. Routines are living processes. They should get better and become more resilient with time. Whether you evaluate every day or once a week, it doesn’t matter. Just set aside some intentional thinking time to review your routines.
I hope this has helped you think about routines and how to adapt them when the world goes through strange time.
These principles sure have helped me over the years.
Remember, a routine doesn’t need to be perfect to work for you. It needs to be adaptable.
Thanks for reading! Please stay safe.