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Last Updated on November 18, 2019

What Is a Routine? 9 Ways Routines Make Your Life Easier

What Is a Routine? 9 Ways Routines Make Your Life Easier

We have accumulated horrendous know-how and have put that knowledge in the hands of the highly trained, highly skilled, and hardworking people in our society. But this knowledge has both burdened us and saved us.

It burdened us because there are just so many different things that we need to do in a certain order or we will fail at it. The volume is enormous.

But there is a way for us to deliver and use our knowledge safely, correctly, and reliably and we can do that by using a simple tool which has been around since the First Men. It’s creating a routine.

So what is a routine?

Let’s define routine by looking into how impactful a routine can be from the world’s greatest tennis player whose career looked like it was created in Hollywood.

The Powerful Routine of the Greatest Tennis Player

Roger Federer might be the best tennis player of all times. But someone will come after years and be better than him. The truth is that there will always be “the best” tennis player out there.

But there was just one who has the greatest tennis player ever. One which filled the seats and who people loved. The one who argued with the judges for 10 minutes to have them pronounce his last name correctly. The one who, at the age of 20, was foreshadowed by Ion Tiriac to “win five Wimbledon’s in a row,” only to never win one.

His name was Goran Ivanišević and he was the greatest tennis player who never won a Grand Slam in his life.

    His life’s goal was to win Wimbledon and for years, he was in top 10 of the tennis world. He was in three Wimbledon finals and he lost all three of them.

    After he lost his third finals, he said in the newsroom that it was better to be born without a d*** then without luck.

    Since he was the only player in the history of tennis who folded a match because of lack of equipment (he broke three racquets in a single gem) and because he was fun for the audience to watch, the nice people at Wimbledon gave Goran Ivanišević, a guy who didn’t win a tournament for two years, a Wild Card invitation to Wimbledon.

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    He picked himself up and at the age of 30, with massive shoulder pains and 126th place on the ATP list, went to Wimbledon with 2 t-shirts and 3 racquets – just enough for one training and the first round.

    Two weeks later, he was serving a championship point in the fifth set at 8:7 against Patrick Rafter.

    The fourth championship point was the “lucky” one for him, making him finally achieve his dream at the age of 30, 126th on the ATP rank, with a destroyed shoulder and a Wild Card invitation on what was the last People’s Monday finale of Wimbledon (played on Monday instead of Sunday because of rain).

    The world’s greatest player who never won anything finally won something and that something was Wimbledon – the biggest, oldest, and most difficult tennis tournament in the world.

    And the one thing that made him have such a sustainable tennis tournament was his routine which put him in the right frame of mind.

    Goran’s routine for the tournament was the following:

    • Wake up at 9:30 am
    • The entire team watch Teletubbies at 10:00 am in his room
    • Wash his two t-shirts which he got at the beginning of the tournament
    • Same food in the same restaurant every day for the time of the tournament
    • Everyone from the team sits at the same place in the box at the court
    • Never step on the white line when entering the court

    And the last one, which is a bit weird:

    • He would always urinate in the same bathroom stall

    One time a member of the All England’s Club was urinating in the empty toilet but Goran waited for him to finish to do his business. Reason? The gentleman was urinating in his bathroom stall.

    We can laugh about it and even Goran probably laughs about it- but it helped him win Wimbledon so we might take the time to learn the lessons from it.

    And the lessons regarding a routine which we can take for us are the following:

    1. Make It Personal

    Your routine needs to work for you and you alone. You are doing it for yourself, not for anyone else.

    And here is the perfect example:

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    If you want to succeed in the United States, everyone tells you that you need to wake up at 5:00 am because that’s the only time when you have some quiet time.

    Where I live, I have quiet almost the entire day so following up on that advice isn’t applicable for me. I can wake up at 8:00am or 9:00am and still have the same quiet time.

    Make it personal because it is personal.

    2. Do It Every Day

    The easiest thing to skip is something which isn’t a habit. And if you make your routine a habit, you will follow it every single day.

    That’s why people have morning routines or night routines — once built, they are as hard to break as bad routines. So if you do it every single day, you will make a habit out of it. And habits become easier to do over time.

    3. If You Can’t Create One, Find One

    Routines are great if they serve you. If you have one but you think it isn’t serving you, then find other people’s routines and see what you can get from that.

    You don’t need to copy-paste them but read them for inspiration. Ernest Hemingway got drunk every night, but he woke up every morning, sat down at his typewriter at 9:00am and wrote for two hours.

    I can (and have skipped) the drinking part, but the allure of the morning writing is the one which inspired me to create my “write 500 words a day” routine.

    4. Checklist It

    Our brains are fallible and forget stuff so easily that it’s embarrassing sometimes (like your wedding anniversary). But if you checklist it and have it on paper (phone lists work as well), you have it in written form and out of your head.[1]

    So get a checklist for your routine and get it out of your head. Your mind can forget, but paper can’t.

    It doesn’t have to be complicated. Even the flight takeoff checklist is only 21 items and they fly a plane.

    Pick the most important elements and write them down for your routine.

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    When I publish my articles, I have the following routine (brand publishing document):

    • Meta tag and keyword
    • Grammar check
    • Picture size in-text (560)
    • Create cover photo in Canva
    • MailChimp pop-up
    • Color links in blue
    • Read out loud once to spot faulty paragraphs and clunky sentences

    For me, these are the most important elements when publishing articles on my website, but they don’t have to be for you.

    5. Be Flexible with Time, but Rigorous in Implementation

    When creating a routine, it’s crucial that you do every element from the list. But you don’t have to do the intensity every single time. Always do the task (read a book today), but you don’t always have to do the intensity (read 20 pages today).

    Be rigorous when implementing the activity because that’s how you create a routine (and a habit), but the intensity doesn’t always have to be there. Just make sure that you do it because our brains value consistency more than intensity.

    Going once to the gym to exercise for 8 hours won’t make a difference, but going twenty times for 30 minutes most certainly will.

    6. You Do It for the Flow

    Don’t create a routine for the routine’s sake. Realize that it’s a tool for you.

    Goran didn’t sit down to watch Teletubbies. He watched them with his team because he wanted to get into Flow, a special state where time stops and you gain immense focus on the task ahead. It’s the thing that keeps gamers glued to the screen for 5 hours straight without blinking (I know, I was one of those).

    Have a routine because it gets you to where you want to go.

    7. Always Follow the Process Even If You Win

    I did around 100 workshops successfully in two languages and 7 different countries in Europe, for audiences ranging from 20 to 250 people.

    And to have that succeed, I always followed the same process:

    • Research the topic
    • Write a session outline
    • Fill in the details
    • Create a powerpoint presentation
    • Rehears once for the flow of the sessions
    • Rehears once to match the presentation with the talk
    • Rehears once to match the correct time it takes to cover elements of the talk/workshop

    But after I’ve done it 100 times, I thought I knew what needs to be done, so I skipped the process. And there you have it- the next workshop was a 4/10 when it could have been a 9 or a 10/10.

    Follow the process even when you become successful because that’s the thing that made you successful.

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    8. Make Stuff Happen Continuously

    Imagine doing a safety check for plane lift-off 9,750 times and nothing happens. Would you do it for 9,751st time?

    Most of us wouldn’t. But most of us aren’t Chesley Sullenberger aka “Sully.” If the name rings familiar, it is the guy who landed an Airbus A320 in the Hudson River and saved everyone from the plane – 0 casualties. All 155 passengers and all of the crew members survived.

    All of that not because he followed the routine that one time. But because he followed the routine 9750 times before.

    9. Trust the Process, the Results Are Always Lag Behind

    Imagine yourself in a room and in front of you, you have an ice cube which you need to melt. The current temperature of the room is -2 Celsius.

    So you start running around to heat the room, exercising and making sure you create heat. Suddenly, the room goes to -1 Celsius but you don’t notice it and continue doing your routine.

    Then, after a little while, the room goes to 0 Celsius degrees – just one more needed for the ice cube to start melting.

    But the thing is that you can’t see the thermometer and you don’t notice the increase in the temperature so you conclude that your routine doesn’t work and you lose it.

    Only to realize later on that it took you just a little bit more to melt the ice cube – you stopped a meter before the diamond mine.

    This is what happens when you don’t see the results immediately and think that your routine doesn’t work.

    Stick with it for 6-9 months and see if it doesn’t work then. It’s like going to the gym – going once won’t make you buffed. Or reading one book won’t make you wise.

    But if you do it consistently, you will get there.

    If you trust the process, you will win it. Just as Goran won his Wimbledon.

    More About Habits and Routines

    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Bruno Boksic

    An expert in habit building

    How to Break Bad Habits (The Only Effective Way) How to Break a Bad Habit and Retrain Your Brain How to Create Your Best Morning Routine for Success How to Change a Habit With the Four Quadrants of Change 4 Steps to Build a Positive Habit Stacking Routine

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    Last Updated on October 22, 2020

    2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

    2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

    Good things come in twos: Peanut butter and jelly, Day and night, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The same is true for what sparks our creative energy: our thoughts and actions.

    Creativity is an inside job as much as it is about a conducive schedule, physical environment, and supportive behaviors. By establishing the right internal and external landscape, creativity can blossom from the abstract to the concrete and we can have fun along the way.

    Sparking creativity is all about setting up the right conditions so a spark is ignited and sustained. The sparks don’t fizzle out. They are allowed to grow and ripen.

    Think of a garden. Intention alone will not produce the delicious red tomato nor will the readiest seed. That seed needs attention at its nascent stage and as it grows a stalk and produces fruit. If we want to enjoy more than one fruit, we keep at it, cultivating the plant and reaping multiple harvests.

    Creativity lives in each of us like seeds in the earth or encapsulated in a nut. Seeds of ideas, concepts, designs, stories, images, and even ways of communicating that surprise and delight await activation.

    By sparking our creative energy, we activate these unique seeds. Like snowflakes, they are of a moment and always without a match. The smallest sparks encourage even the smallest, most dormant seeds to sprout.

    The good news is that our creative energy wishes to be sparked—to be invited to play. It wants to be our regular playmate.

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    1. Be Childlike in Your Thoughts, Attitudes, and Approach

    Being childlike in our thoughts, attitudes, and approach is an easy way to internally have our thoughts be gracious prolific gardeners to our creative energy. If we want it to come out and play and hang around as our regular companion, then let’s return to our 5-year-old selves.

    Our childhood selves are naturally curious. We still have that curiosity! All we have to do is remind ourselves to get curious. We can do that by simply observing and being with what is in front of us instead of making up a story about what won’t work or why something can’t be done. So, it’s about cultivating curiosity instead of jumping into judgment.

    Move Your Inner Judge to the Sidelines

    When we get curious, creativity percolates and, ultimately, takes its place in the world. To give a hand in choosing curiosity over judgment, we can move the judge that also lives inside us to the sidelines. The judge squashes our creative urges, even when they are as small as sharing a point of view. It’s that pesky voice that causes us to doubt ourselves or worry about what others will think.

    The judge is also risk-averse. The judge likes things to stay the same. Change makes the judge nervous.

    Creativity is all about risk and changing things up. It needs risk, even failure, to be its naturally innovative, dynamic, impactful self. The judge likes to convince us failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

    To move the judge to the sidelines and let curiosity reign, we can pay attention to who we are in conversation with and who is calling the shots.

    Is it the voice of fear, doubt, or anxiety (the inner-critic—the judge’s boss)? Or is it the voice of wisdom, courage, strength, and non-attachment, and of course curiosity (the inner-leader)?

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    We can easily tell the difference by how each makes us feel. The inner-critic depletes and slows us down, putting roadblocks in the way. The inner-leader energizes and a natural rhythm develops.

    It’s all about who we spend time with. If we wish to exercise, we will seek out our friends who go to the gym or hike. If we want to lose some weight, we will opt to eat dinner with someone who prefers a healthy spot over fast food.

    After getting curious, we can honor what our curiosity prompts us to do. The spark can do its job and a fire starts to glow when commitment enters. Our childhood selves were fully committed to being creative. That level of commitment is still something we are very capable of exercising!!

    Again, we need to let go of the judge. We can ask ourselves, what do we want to commit to—negativity that depletes our creative energy, depth, and output, or the understanding that our thoughts and attitudes matter and that right thoughts and attitudes are the sparks that really let our creativity come alive?

    Learn to Recall Your Childhood Self

    To get in touch with that unabashedly committed childhood self, recall your childhood self. If you have a picture, pull one out. Keep it around so you can remember to activate that innate creative nature that was prominent then and wants to be prominent now and always.

    Soak in the essence of that being. Commit to their commitment to brave and dogged trial and error because it is yours as well. You are that person.

    Remember how tenacious you were when you wanted to build that sandcastle. You kept at it as the waves came in. You built with fury or reconfigured the walls. Also, remember that there was a willingness to fail since you were as invested in the process as well as the outcome—but less with the outcome. You were willing to experiment and start again. There was vitality—the main lifeline of your creative energy—instead of a rigid attachment.

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    When you notice you are in conversation with your inner-critic or being held back by it, simply acknowledge, name it, and then switch to your inner-leader by taking a few good deep belly breaths, rubbing two fingertips together, or listening to ambient sounds in the background.

    Physical movements shift our negative thoughts over to the positive domain of the inner-leader. As our judge continues to sit on the sidelines, our ability to quiet the inner-critic becomes stronger. We taste freedom. A simple taste emboldens us to say no again to the judge and yes to what makes our hearts and spirits sing—our creativity.

    We begin to spark creativity to the point it no longer needs to be invited to play. It becomes our regular playmate—the younger sibling or the kid next door ready to have some fun, maybe even make some mischief by shaking things up.

    When we align with our inner-leader and think and act from its promptings, creativity flows up and out with ease, as it needs to!

    Letting those initial sparks generate a creativity fire that keeps burning is something we can all do! That’s the inside job.

    2. Listen to Your Inner Leaders of Creative Energy

    If we listen, our inner-leaders will let us know just what we need to set-up and do in our physical world to maximize that gorgeous, hungry creativity we now have flowing freely in us.

    The seed has been unlocked! So, now what?

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    To enable our creative energy to take its form and place outside of us, there needs to be spaciousness! Spaciousness in our physical worlds impacts our internal one. It lets the voice of the inner-leader be heard. It lets creativity have room to be sparked and acted upon.

    With a little discipline, we can easily create spaciousness in our daily lives—spaciousness that will spark our creativity and let it take shape.

    So, no matter who you are and what conditions help your creativity thrive, check-out these easy-to-implement basic suggestions:

    • Reduce or eliminate multi-tasking.
    • Say yes to what matters and what aligns with your big values and goals.
    • Say no to all else.
    • Say no again.
    • Schedule time in your calendar as you do with other things in your life to just be, to ponder, to let ideas percolate, and to create.
    • Spend time doing the things that bring out your creative energy. It could be walking, singing, or simply looking out the window.
    • Meditate.
    • Breathe—long breaths in and long breaths out through the nose.
    • Invite your body and heart into your experiences so your mind is a part of you and not all of you.
    • Try a new thing to spark your creativity. If you spend time running, try a different route. If running feels stale, cruise around a museum, or go for a bike ride.
    • Play a game. Indoors out or outside. Think of what makes you happy that you haven’t done in a while. Is it a physical game like badminton or cards? Maybe it’s storytelling? Play is creative, and it sparks the creative energy, too.
    • Spend time in the places that bring out your creativity. What spot in your home could be your spot for entering into that mode? Do you need to get out? Maybe a park bench is the right spot, with a book of poetry, or even nothing at all.
    • Spend time in nature. Nature brings us to a place of calm and awe and through that our creativity is easily sparked.

    Final Thoughts

    These are all habits—habits of mind and habits of doing. Experiment with what works for you. Have fun. If you give even 50% to altering your thoughts and actions, then you will begin to spark your creativity. It takes a lot of curiosity and commitment, but it can definitely be done.

    Our innate creative energy is a deep source of all that we seek—joy, connection, renewal. It deserves and looks forward to the changes you will make that will let sparks fly and ignite!

    More Tips to Spark Your Creative Energy

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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