As responsible adults and parents, we provide structured routines for our children to follow daily.
For the most part, they have set wake-times, set meal-times, homework times, play times and bedtimes. Smaller tasks like brushing teeth are also done routinely.
This helps them to establish in their minds what's important and needs accomplishing for the day, which, once accomplished, gives them a feeling of empowerment.
Once they get to school, they follow other consistent routines on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, for a reason.
We follow this protocol with our children, because we know that routines help them to feel in control and be more productive and this helps to build their self-esteem.
Unfortunately, as adults, we often try and "wing" our way through the day, believing this spontaneity, this unplanned, whimsical manner frees us. On the contrary, this type of unfocused, chaotic, energy, only prevents us from reaching our goals, while contributing to our stress and anxiety levels. Adhering to routines is the real path to productivity, happiness and freedom.
The reality is, structured routines are important elements to success in both our personal and professional lives and the importance of having an established daily routine beginning the moment we wake in the morning cannot be overstated.
In fact, if we want to follow in the footsteps of successful people – powerhouses like Richard Branson (and why wouldn't we?), structured routines are mandatory. Why? Successful people always stick to their routines because they know how important structure is to productivity as opposed to its opposite - chaos.
Structure provides direction in our lives and helps us establish routines. Routines are something we continually repeat over and over. Whatever we consistently do, we become better at, so routines become our habits and help us to become better and more adept at what we do daily.
Because routines provide structure, they help organise our lives, so they make sense to us. With routines in place, we wake in the morning with a true sense of focus, direction, ownership and order.
Actively participating in our lives and consciously building positive daily routines for ourselves automatically instills plenty of good habits into our day. Even repeating small things routinely builds momentum and eventually, this "little" builds and becomes "a lot". (This rule applies whether contributing to your success or taking from it, so be careful what you routinely think, say and do!)
Starting the day off right is the first step towards ending it successfully. Waking in the morning with a set routine in place provides clarity of mind and allows us to be immediately aware of and focus on what the day holds for us - what needs attention first. Once that task is completed, a set routine allows us to easily move onto our next task without hesitation. There is no dead, wasted and confused "what do I do" time?
Bottom line is this. Having a routine in place takes the guesswork out of our day and provides the framework needed to live and conduct our lives. We wake with a schedule in place and immediately "do" rather than "plan". This helps eliminate any temptation to spend time and effort on frivolous things that only steal our energy allotment for the day but add nothing to our productive effort. Routines also help combat procrastination – a real goal killer, and build self-confidence and self-satisfaction, while freeing up our time by prioritising our tasks.
Let's face it, without routines in place, we flounder and end up "frozen in time", standing motionless rather than acting. When no action is taken, nothing happens, and nothing is changed. Not a good way to start or finish the day.
A routine sets specific times for tasks such as sleep time, meal time, work time, play time and gym time, making productivity much more likely. It is key to a healthy mental state as well because it eliminates the chaos and confusion our minds would otherwise feel when faced with the prospects of our busy modern day without a plan. Can you imagine a teacher trying to teach a class without a plan, without an outline to follow? It simply doesn't work.
When we develop and follow a routine, we are making a conscious choice to live life a certain way through healthy repetition. By developing a bunch of good, healthy habits, we won't have room for "old, damaging habits" and soon, they become a thing of the past.
A day without a plan is chaotic - it can go in too many directions. It's like writing a book without an outline to follow, or chapters to define it. A routine is our outline and the chapters are our daily tasks and once in place, all we need to do is follow it.
Just the act of "doing" empowers us with a sense of control which in turn relaxes our mind. A relaxed mind is a stress free, creative mind! A creative mind is a successful mind!
■ Carolyn Hansen is co-owner of Anytime Fitness.