Are Routines Good for Us?

This is a tricky question.

W. H. Auden has said — 

‘Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition. A modern stoic knows that the surest way to discipline passion is to discipline time: decide what you want or ought to do during the day, then always do it at exactly the same moment every day, and passion will give you no trouble.’

I agree. Routines are mostly good for us. They help us form productive habits and get things done.

They are good except when we want to train ourselves for uncertainties. And, uncertainties arise in life. We should be ready for such times, by accepting that there will be times when won’t be able to follow a routine and learn to go through such days without getting hassled. We can do it by going with the flow once in a while.

If you are accustomed to eating at a certain time of the day, see what happens if you don’t eat at those times or if you don’t eat all. Observe your brain, and notice how it behaves. Can you accept such times with grace thinking about those who are not as lucky as you are, and don’t have food in their plate always?

This way you will develop the strength of being calm and centered whether you are following a routine and also during times when you can’t follow any routine.

The point is that our routines should not hold us back.

This is also true of habits. Habits are formed when we follow a routine and habits help us continue with a routine easily. Now you definitely do not want to get rid of good habits but it is worthwhile to get rid of routines that are bad for us.

You see routine means – a sequence of actions regularly followed. If your daily routine is to watch Netflix for 2 hours before going to bed at 1.30am every day and you need to wake up at 6 am to get to work in time, then this is a routine worth breaking.

So, keep the routines that move you forward and take you towards your goals. And, discard or replace the ones that hold you back.