I used to think that spontaneity was the spice of life. I’d leave huge chunks of free time in my calendar, and see what I felt like doing when the moment arrived. Unfortunately, I realised that I typically ended up filling my free time with mindless activities, such as watching movies or TV shows, surfing social media, or going out for one too many drinks. And then complain about having not enough time.
After a while, it began to frustrate me because there wasn’t anything fulfilling about those activities as well. It was beginning to smell like I was in my comfort zone, so I started to shake things up and decided to introduce routine in my daily life. What I found surprised me because instead of feeling dull and monotonous, having a routine made me more efficient and productive, and most importantly, happier.
What is a daily routine?
A routine is a schedule but is something that you do on a regular basis. In the case of a daily routine, it’s something that you repeat every day. When I created my daily routine, I made sure I was able to stick with it. That meant not scheduling things during times when I know I’d usually have appointments or social events.
I started small. The first change in my daily routine was to make my bed. I used to think that making my bed was absolutely useless since it’ll get messed up again once I go to bed at night. However, I’ve learned that it’s a really small action that sets the tone right for the day. On top of that, going to sleep in a neat bed is always nice!
Once that was in my routine for a few weeks, I was hooked on the positive benefits of a routine, and I started introducing more activities in my daily routine. I played with not just waking times, but also sleeping times. I also started introducing a fixed time to work out.
How Do You Start A Daily Routine?
The key to a routine is consistency. When I created my daily routine, I found that the secret was to make it easy for me to stick with it. One of the ways of doing so is not scheduling things in my routine during times when I know I’d usually have conflicting commitments: typically appointments or social events.
For example, if I know that I tend to often have dinner appointments on weekdays, then scheduling gym at 7pm is going to be incredibly tedious and difficult to adhere to. I learnt this lesson the hard way because I had to constantly decide on whether I wanted to go for a business/social event or go for gym because both were fighting for my time after office hours.
Rather than to have a constant test of my willpower, the much easier thing for me to do was to wake up earlier so that I could go to the gym before work. This was painful at the start because of how I had to wake up earlier, but committing to this was much smoother for the long-term because it eliminates any scheduling conflicts and makes it easier for me to stick to my routine.
Unlike what I used to think, a routine wasn’t boring. Instead, it led me to be more free, productive, and happy. Here’s why having a daily routine is so important for everyone to have.
1. Reduce decision fatigue
Decision fatigue is real. Having a daily routine saves you a huge amount of time and mental resources thinking about what to do. You plan it once and set it in your daily routine. When it comes to it, just do whatever your routine dictates instead of spending time thinking of what to do. I found this to be the best benefit of a daily routine, and my stress levels dropped significantly.
2. Create good habits
Some people say that to create a new habit, you need to repeat it at least 21 times. I’ve found that 21 times is the bare minimum. The more times you repeat an activity, the more likely that it will become a habit. Putting an activity into your daily routine is a great way to make something into a life-long habit. Just make sure it’s a positive one!
3. Increase proficiency
The secret to proficiency is perfect practice. When you have a routine, you can schedule things in that are important to you, and get much needed practice. Thinking of learning a foreign language? Put in an hour of practice in your daily routine to do so, and you’ll be surprised at how much progress you’ll make after a few months.
4. Increase self-confidence
The fact that you’re going to be doing certain activities now on a daily basis means you’re going to be achieving a lot more than you used to. This has a tremendous impact on your self-confidence.
5. Save money
The fact that you know what you’re going to do every day can save you money in the long run. For instance, if you know that you’re going to the gym every day, you can opt for a monthly gym pass, saving you money over a daily pass.
Start a daily routine to be happier
If you’re still on the fence about a daily routine, I highly recommend starting today. You don’t need to have a daily routine that’s the same for every day. I had a daily routine that differed between weekdays and weekends. The important thing is to create a simple daily routine that you can stick to, and slowly introducing more activities to it. Once you do this, you’ll start seeing how much of a difference a daily routine can make to your happiness.