Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Routines Free Up Time and Energy

I love lists!
I’ve been called a creature of habit. I don’t argue this because for the most part it is true. I like things done a certain way and I tend to do them the same way all the time. Routines. Rituals. Habits. Whatever you call these daily checklist items, they are not a bad thing. Actually, they are quite helpful.

Have you ever felt overloaded? Everyone is coming to you at one time wanting your input on this decision or that project from what you’re having for lunch to an outline for the next big project. Then you have those details at home that need your attention to add to the mix and even though the 9-year-old would love to make the decision all the time about what to prepare for dinner, you know better than to relinquish that decision. It would help, but you would be sick of McDonald’s and Mac & Cheese constantly. Although I do hear that some parents think this is a steady, healthy diet for children. It’s not. It’s the lazy way out of making smart choices.

Sometimes, we are just too weighed down with all of those decisions to make smart ones. Routines assist us in freeing up time and energy to deal with the tougher issues that we come up against, like should we get dressed and go to work.

You see, routines are like the auto pilot for airplanes. You press a button and cruise, freeing yourself for other tasks. You know it needs done and when it has to happen, so there is no decision making to it. You just do it.

My routines start in the morning. I have a list of things that get done every morning to keep me on top of things and to start my day. I’ll give an example. With coffee in hand, I open my laptop and then begin to jot down all of my statistics from the previous day. I keep track of followers, how many times the blog was visited, and how many of each book was sold the previous day. This helps me know if I am doing well or if I am falling in one area, especially the blog visits. I will know if something has touched people and I should follow that trend or jump ship and pick another topic. With the books, it allows me to know if the marketing is working or not. Keeping track of followers just boosts my ego.

This week's list
From there I know it’s time to work on that day’s blog post, and then I begin working one of the drafts or settling in for some heavy editing. I use a Digital Post-It Notes on my screen to create To Do Lists that help me move from one project to the next. Time is not wasted on trying to decide what I should work on next. It’s all right there in front of me. It even allows for those moments when I don’t feel like working on a certain project because there are several on there to capture my imagination. We also don’t waste energy floundering around trying to decide because it has already decided. Furthermore, it trains our minds that when this is happening, it’s work time and our gears shift, hopefully ready to dig in and get things done.

Routines reduce our decision making and the more routines you can build in to your day the easier things will become. Have a routine for answering emails, switching from work-mode to going home, and for returning phone calls. Try to do these things consistently at the same time each day and soon your mind and body will just take over. It’s like putting on your shoes. You don’t think about it. You just do it and your mind is busy on something else. The more things you can turn in to that type of routine, the more things you will have time for without the stress that goes with it.

So save your energy and restore your time. Create routines in to your day and you’ll feel like you’ve discovered more time in your day, and who doesn’t need more time? I know I could use a few years’ worth.

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