How To Do Life

Fresh ideas about career and personal issues

Routines Can Ease a Busy Life

Five questions to help you create or improve your routines.

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Daily routines help you to be more efficient and provide comfort—rituals provide relief from the day’s ever-changing events.

In the next paragraph, I describe my daily routine in hopes it will encourage you, not necessarily to adopt my routines but to jumpstart you toward creating your own.

When I wake, —in violation of standard time-management rules—I check my email. I view email as my window into the world of possibilities. After an hour, I’ve sat long enough and go outside with my dog, Einstein, sipping coffee and enjoying my garden for a few minutes. I answer more email or start on the day’s PsychologyToday.com article until it’s time for my first client. Around 1:00, I take Einstein for a brief walk, have lunch, then it’s more clients until about 6:00. I then take Einstein for the exact same 45-minute hike every day. I spend the first part of the hike thinking about my day’s thorniest problem and the rest enjoying nature. For example, today, I noticed the sky at twilight, with rays, like a gauzy spotlight emanating upward from the sun and through the clouds. After dinner, I see one more client and then finish my PsychologyToday.com article. After posting it, I walk the dog again and get ready for bed, including listening to  the same CD (adagios) every night to accompany my reading something for pure pleasure until my eyes get heavy. I kiss my wife and doggie good night and it’s off to dreamland.

To help you create your own ritual, answer these questions: 

1. What activities do you enjoy that you might want to make part of your daily routine? 

2. What activities have you enjoyed in the past that you’d like to try incorporating into your daily routine? 

3. What’s the most stressful activity in your typical day? Could you create a ritual or routine to make it less stressful? For example, if you have to deal with irate customers, make a list of best responses to common complaints and consistently use or adapt those.

4. Was there anything in my daily routine that you’d like to use or adapt? For example, I exercise toward the end of the day. That energizes me right afterward but by the time it’s bedtime, the fatiguing effect of the exercise takes over and helps me sleep.

5. There is an absence of spirituality in my routines but many people find spiritual activities comforting. Is there one you’d like to make a daily ritual?

Now what?

Look at your answers. Would you like to draft a paragraph like the third paragraph of this article, describing what you’d like to try as your daily routine?

Marty Nemko's bio is in Wikipedia.

Marty Nemko is a career and personal coach based in Oakland, Ca. and the author of 7 books. 
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