General, Mental Health, Mindfulness, Organization

Routine – Is it a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

Having a routine can be both a good thing and a bad thing.  For some, like me, structure is key.  Having routine and structure can keep you on track, help you stay focused on what tasks need to get done and make you feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.  But it can also be restrictive in some ways.  For those that don’t have a routine, they may feel more free and relaxed.  There are no plans to stick to, nothing to worry about being on time for and it’s more of a care-free lifestyle.  But which is right for you?  Let me tell you about my experience with both sides of the coin to help you decide for yourself.

First let’s start with my life in the past.  Very recent past too.  Over the past few years, I had a very restrictive lifestyle.  I would be away from home a minimum of 12 hours a day and have to plan for everything.  I’d leave the house very early in the morning, be gone all day, not come home until early evening.  That meant I had to prepare my days the night before.  I would pack a lunch, set out my clothes, make sure my bag for my commute had a bag and write out my list of tasks I wanted to accomplish for the next day, which included working out.  It was challenging, but I had a routine and it worked.  The only problem with that system was that I had only about 4 hours to myself every day to get things done around the house.  Crazy, right?  The funny thing is, I still got a lot of things done.  But other things suffered.  Things like my relationship with my husband, I couldn’t go to family gatherings and time with friends only happened on the weekends.  Having that routine was stressful, but it worked…for the time being.  Eventually, I got tired of it.  Eventually, I wanted to get rid of this routine because what I wanted out of life changed and this routine wasn’t working for me anymore.

So I decided to change some things to allow me to have a different routine.  I changed my job from full time to part time and found one closer to my home.  I started to say no to going out more and became a home body.  I found my tribe of friends that wanted similar things and knew spending time with them would add value to my life.  And when I made these changes, my routine changed.  Or even became almost non-existent.  Yup, I actually let go so much that I would even say I lost my mojo.  Now instead of having a routine, my days are spent doing what I want to do without having a structured system.  Yes, I still have my task list but instead of having 7-10 items I have closer to 1-3. I live a much more free life and feel like I’m working less.  A lot less.  I get to have time with my family and friends, I get to walk my dog more and I get to feel less pressure to get things done.  At the same time, though, I also feel more pressure (from myself) because I’m not getting those things done.  Part of me almost wishes I had that old lifestyle back but at the same time, I wouldn’t feel the way I do now.

So what’s right?  To be honest, I’m not really sure.  I like the freedom that I have and the fact that I can do things that I want, when I want.  But I also feel I need to challenge myself.  I need to find a routine that works to help me get things done, keeps me on track and allows me to still live a full, free life.  And that my friends, is the current work in progress for me.  It will be some time before I find this routine and make it stick.  And it might be that way for you.  Don’t get discouraged, just keep trying to find YOUR routine and make it work for YOU!

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