Routine is not the enemy. In some things? Maybe. But in your daily minutiae, having a set plan to tackle the small tasks that just need to get done, can boost out, save time, and cut costs.
After having my life and my routine turned upside down in the past months, I’ve realized how much I’ve missed it. I used to know what I was eating at any given time of the day. I knew what I was going to wear within ten seconds of opening my closet. I knew what time I was going to bed, what time I was waking up, and I knew exactly what every morning would look like.
Having these mindless events planned out ahead of time, removing any decision-making, leaves me extra brainpower for the things that will have a larger impact on my day, and my life.
Now this may sound a little dramatic, but if I wake up the same time every day, eat the same breakfast, exercise, shower, and get dressed, my morning is largely decided for me. If I had to decide what I wanted to make for breakfast each morning, then actually make it, I’d lose an additional twenty minutes each day, coincidentally the time it takes to complete one of these workouts. Routine is good for my time.
I buy all my groceries and prepare my meals at the beginning of the week. I carry my foods for the day in my backpack, so I’m ready when hunger strikes. I noticed when not in a routine, I’d get hungry and make a haphazard decision on the fly. Eating lunch and dinner out every day becomes costly, not to mention slightly less healthy. I sometimes spend up to two times more when stopping for a meal on a whim. Routine is good for my money.
I used to have a lot more clothes. Before my major closet simplification, getting dressed involved many decisions: jeans or pants, shoes or sneakers, sweater or button down, colored or patterned socks, coat or layers. Now, I have only one type of pants that I wear 95% of the time, in two different colors, about five button down shirts, four long sleeve henleys, and about six tees (not including workout gear!). Everything fits perfectly and matches with everything else, saving me more than 20 minutes each morning, which I use to write and continue working on this side project. Routine is good for my productivity.
Eliminating these small, monotonous decisions tended to drain my mental energy and willpower too. I found it harder to make more important decisions later in the day (and stay awake!) when I had to make all these seemingly insignificant choices prior, the ones that can and should be on autopilot. It’s called decision fatigue and it’s real. It also affected my ability to refrain from things I know were less than ideal for me, like that nightly sweet indulgence (my weak spot: Ben & Jerry’s pints).
I didn’t realize how much I relied on routine until it was gone. I am constantly searching for these small, brainless actions I can place on autopilot, saving my valuable mental energy for things that matter much more, like effectively and creatively running my business. Getting and staying into a groove helps boost my ability to complete daily tasks, keep with my workout routine, eat healthier, and save money – all things important in helping me live without a corporate job and keeping life simple.