Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Power of The Routine

When I think how I completed my high school diploma or my scant knowledge of biology, it occurs to me that I didn’t acquire it all in a day. It took years of repetition, learning something here, reading something there, a little at a time until I completed the course. I walked to school Monday through Friday, rain or shine. Once I got there, they would teach us one more thing. Whether dull or exciting, Latin root words or frog dissection, at the end of the day, great or small, something was done. Over the Fall season, a class was completed and I had a basic knowledge of the English language, or the anatomy of amphibians. After twelve years of this, I received a piece of paper indicating that I had the audacity to finish something, and was probably qualified to go on to finish other things in life.

Today, when I list all the goals I want to accomplish, the list seems long and daunting. But then I remember, some of my best accomplishments were completed in small consistent steps, like a class.
I would tell myself, Every day, at a set time, I do this – for 30 minutes or maybe an hour if I have it. My first book of poetry was written that way from 5:30 to 7 a.m.  daily, for months. Some days were productive, some were full of writer’s block and frustration. But then I thought, If it were a class, I would have go anyway- or at least be present. To miss a class required review and catch up later. To miss several classes is to lose track of where I left off before. Consistency was key.  Some mornings I would just go to the desk and look at it, sipping coffee…and then, an answer would come out of the blue.  This went on for some time until one day- It was done. I had discovered the power of The Routine.   

I question that there is a single fix for everything, but often, a consistent routine can make a dramatic change in productivity and stress reduction. I have used this to find time for exercise, time with my children, completion of books, proposals, even renovation of the basement library. When those “one day” tasks prove to be too large for such a short time, or the time isn’t there in the first place, break it up into small pieces that fit into a simple daily or weekly routine. Follow it religiously. Schedule around it. Don’t be too quick to change your routine for others. Over time, you will see progress on your goal. Then one day, you’ll be surprised to find- it’s done (often quicker than you think). That’s the power of The Routine.  


  1. Great advice and something I need to practice. Set goals for one day at a time. I am a "starter" not a "finisher" I love this advice!!

  2. I have had a morning routine for more years thai can remember. Prayer and exercise begin my day. Both have taken on several forms at different times in my life from bible reading to cganting Hindu prayers whike living in an yoga community in the poconos. My morning prayer & exercise usually set the tone for that day.