Why Routines Work

We see routines all over the internet – morning routines, evening routines, in blog posts, on YouTube, on Insta story takeovers, some celebrities’s on a big name website. They are everywhere. And you know why? Because they work.

My schedule is different every day, so as part of a new year, I really want to get better at having a set routine. I know myself and I know I am much more productive and grounded when I have my routine down. I like structure so much, a while back I asked my therapist if it was possible to get too caught up in one. She told me, as humans, we all do better with routine. It doesn’t matter what kind of person we are – they are effective for everyone. Yes, there are cases where we can become too strict, but routine is good as long as we can leave some room for negotiation and spontaneity. Lately, I can tell I’ve been leaning too much towards the latter and suffering for it.

From what I’ve seen online, I know routines are not just popular with celebrities and yogis, but with CEO’s, business men, writers, and those in technology. Their popularity spreads such a wide range of people. What about having a morning/evening routine attracts people from all different fields? Before jumping into my own, I decided to dive in and find out the answer. And who doesn’t love a little bit of research?

I started with a quick Google search, and pretty much every article highlighted the same points.

Routines:

  • provide structure.
  • build good habits.
  • help us break bad habits.
  • make us more efficient.
  • reduces procrastination.

All of these sound great, of course, and made sense. I still wanted more. In talking with a good friend about my curiosity, she suggested a podcast she had just listened to – Impact Theory. There was one particular episode with Jim Kwik that she thought I would really like. So this weekend I listened to it and got exactly what I had been looking for.

Decision making fatigue. Kwik explained that we can only make a certain number of good decisions in a day. Once you’ve spent it, you can’t make anymore. Our routines make the first and last hours of our days habitual. This is why people like Mark Zuckerberg wear a uniform. It takes away one decision he has to make every day, allowing space for more important decisions to be made later.

He went further into the importance of a morning routine with the science of momentum. “Win the morning, win the day,” Kwik says. Regular rituals and routines create positive momentum for the rest of the day. They give us direction. However, both morning and evening routines are effective because they are the hours we have the most control and influence over.

This helps explain what I was feeling, but couldn’t figure out how to express. I wanted concrete evidence, and it exists. There is science behind these claims! Truthfully, I didn’t look into the studies myself except Kwik’s episode (who has read some of the research himself) and this article from Develop Good Habits that looks at psychological principles, including decision making fatigue.

While Kwik is very matter of fact, he also instilled a lot of heart into his talk. One of my favorite phrases he said on both the Impact Theory episode, and the morning routine episode on his own podcast, Kwik Brain, is

Self care and self love are not selfish.

With “self care” and “self love” being thrown around so much these days, it was a nice reminder. We have to take care of ourselves to be able to effectively help others.

Now that I feel fulfilled with my little bit of research, I am ready to implement my own routines. In January, I began adding a few things here and there, but this month I’m focusing on consistency so my routines can start becoming more habitual. I’m going to work on setting a time frame and figure out what I absolutely have to do each morning and night, and what I would like to do too. Starting with a full hour each morning and each night is going to take some getting used to, but I’m up for the challenge. I pretty much already give myself an hour at night, but I’m thinking the morning is going to require me to get up slightly earlier, especially on Friday’s. And stop looking at my phone first thing. That is going to be the hardest part, I’m sure.

I will create full posts on my morning and evening routines later in the month, but let me leave you with a few suggestions to consider adding to your day:

  • drinking a full glass of water – room temperature in the summer, warm in the winter
  • meditation session
  • journaling
  • having a cup of tea
  • taking vitamins and supplements

What do you include in your routines? Let me know in the comments!

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