Yesterday there was a brief conversation in one of my online homes about routines and habits, how we set them and change them, and how hard that can be. I’ve done a bunch of work this year in constructing a daily routine for myself and figuring out how to just plain do a routine. Having a list of things to do isn’t a routine. Actually doing the things is what makes for routine, and I have trouble with that. Big trouble, sometimes.

Part of the work has been learning what kind of tricks help me do the things that make up the routine. Mental tricks can be a big help in making behavioral changes. But the tricks only go so far. Even after months of working on this, on some days the routine doesn’t happen. I skip steps, or skip the whole darn thing, or do everything out of order. Lately I’ve tended to get up and feel like I don’t want to waste time on my routine, most of which happens first thing in the morning. I want to get to the “important” stuff, the day’s individual tasks. You know, the real work.

I’m rethinking that tendency now. There’s something about the constancy of routine that makes it feel less important. Sometimes I feel like I have to just get that stuff out of the way, and then I can go on to what’s more important. I’m starting to think that’s a really big mistake, a drastically wrong way to look at it.

Here’s a look at my current routine list, before I start scribbling it up and crossing things out:

A page from my daily schedule book

Some of the items are cryptic, but I know what all of them mean. I know why each one of them is on this list. All of them earned their places. Each one in some way contributes to making me a healthier, saner human being.

There’s that saying, often misattributed to Aristotle, that “we are what we repeatedly do.” These things on my lists are what I repeatedly do, what I want to keep doing, by choice. In that respect, this list is me.

These are the things I think of as “less important?” This is the stuff I want to rush through and get on to my “real” work? What work is more important than the work which makes me into myself? The work that can make me into whatever sort of “self” I want to be?

I’m looking at my list today with a critical eye. I think I’m missing some pieces; not all of who-I-want-to-become is represented here. I want to produce more and consume less. I want to connect with more people, more often. I’m not sure what kind of routine items I’m going to need in order to put more of those things into my daily life. But it matters that they’re missing, and it matters that I add them. Because this list is directly connected to who I am becoming. I’ve already seen that a well-constructed routine is a powerful tool for transformation. I feel like I’ve only just begun using this tool, and I’m impatient to gain mastery of it.


2 comments so far

  1. Suebert on

    Hey, I think I may be on that list :-D

    • stitchesandwords on

      You’re going to blow your cover, you know. ;)

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