routines keep you grounded

Published on March 31, 2020

Routines keep me grounded.

The last few weeks have been accompanied with some of the greatest changes I have ever seen in my society. When I go out for a walk, I now feel rather guilty; three weeks ago, I was walking almost like normal. When I see the street outside my window, I see a row of closed stores; a month ago, everything was open.

It is not just the outside that has changed. My outlook on life has also been similarly impacted. Before this crisis, I had developed a great sense of confidence, and I was starting to explore more of the world in which we live. I started travelling a little bit, and I was at the point where I was asking myself “where should I go next?”

This was all, of course, taken away from me, and now I find myself stuck inside for most of my days. I do not find this uncomfortable to the extent other people do, because I am used to working remotely and spent a lot of time at home before this crisis. But having the option to go outside and go for a coffee was something I really took for granted.

As I have been processing what is going on, I have noticed that my routines have kept me grounded. No matter what is happening in the world, my routines have been there to help guide me through my day and ensure that I do what I set out to do.

When I woke up last Friday, I executed my normal routine. It was a normal day -- for being in quarantine, at least -- and I felt good. I had a few exciting projects on which I was going to work, and it was almost the weekend.

On days like this, I sometimes find myself asking “are the routines I have developed really helping me out?” At the root of this question is my desire to achieve spontaneity in my life -- to have as many unique experiences as I possibly can.

I find myself pondering this question in the good times because nothing is going wrong, and I am interested in growing as much as possible. In fact, actively asking this question helps me keep my life interesting. It encourages me to question whether the systems I have set in place -- which could be months or even years old -- are still right based on my current state of mind.

However, when things are not going so well, I never question whether my habits are helping me. Their benefits are evident.

Over the last few weeks, there have been days where I have felt more down than normal. I think most people are going through a few of these days right now. What has got me through these times is: (i) a sense that there will be a tomorrow and; (ii) my routines.

When I wake up in the morning, I know roughly what to expect for the first hour or so. I know when I am going to have my shower. I know when I am going to make breakfast. I know when I am going to start work. This means that I don’t have to worry obsessively about how I am going to spend my morning: everything is already coded into my mind.

On good days, I often forget about how these routines set me up for success. However, on days where I feel down, or where things have become more uncertain, my routines keep me grounded. They help push me to do the things I know I should do: the things my past self has said are important.

Brushing my teeth, making my breakfast, meditating, and doing all of these other tasks at the same time introduces a level of consistency in my mornings. Such consistency is also achieved when it comes to my evening routines.

Knowing what I am going to do during the first hour of my day helps me focus my attention on the next hour, and the hour after that. It’s during those hours where I start my working day and need as much of my willpower as possible.

Sometimes my routines become ruts, and a change is necessary. That’s why I like to question my routines every now and again, to see if they are still serving me. However, even though it may seem tough to execute on routines during uncertain times, they play an important role in our lives. They help keep us grounded. They give us a feeling of stability, even if a lot is going wrong in the world.

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