In Praise of Routine

Man table work routine

Routine isn’t most people’s favorite word. Many try to escape it any way they can. But can quality be achieved without the repetition and regularity that characterize routine?

However tedious a routine may be, sometimes it’s often preferable to the stress and disabling tension of not knowing what to do or how to do it. With routine usually comes familiarity, constancy, and security. When you have a routine, it’s easier to have a plan. And when you have a plan, it’s easier to set objectives and track.

Routine is deeply integrated in the human mind. The mind needs structure and familiarity to function well. It sees patterns everywhere, it creates repetitions, it generates habits. Take the master of routine Himself, the Sun. What would happen if the Sun relinquished its routine and showed up on different days at different hours? Would we still exist?

Routine becomes tedious when it’s not aligned to our passions and values. School or work can easily create this type of routine. sYou may be trapped in what you think is a sad routine — studying boring subjects every day, filling out forms, or making pizzas. But even then embracing that routine and working to perfect it may be the fastest way to a new, better routine — an undergraduate degree or a better, more suitable job.

Writers and artists need routine, too. Read about the lives of the world’s greatest writers, and you’ll see that most of them, if not all, have a writing routine, working between certain hours on certain days. Routine keeps the words flowing, and it is from that flow that, like fishermen, we can scoop our catch — inspiration, creativity, and our best ideas.

Creativity, too, needs a routine to manifest itself. The creative process may be hard to pin down, but the stimuli that usually trigger it are deeply rooted in a routine of discovery of knowledge and sense impressions. When you keep doing certain things regulary — visiting galleries, spending time with artsy friends, traveling — inspiration tends to show up more frequently.

Looking back on my life so far, I find many enjoyable days spent among the simple pleasures and easy familiarities of routine. Days when I wrote, drank my tea, strolled through the park, cycled, cooked my food, took a warm bath, and slept quietly, without dreams. Days when nothing surprising happened to me. When I met no one and when no one bothered me.

Routine may not create vivid memories or titillate our senses. It may not make us feel intensily alive. But it can polish what we do and make it as good and as precise as it can be. The satisfaction of doing something well can be a stable, long-lasting, and positive energy in our life, more dependable than adventurous excitement.

Rather than trying to escape routine, we need to align it to our passions and values, to make sure we constantly do the things that we enjoy doing over and over again. That’s the only way to overcome routine, and probably the best way to be successful in life, too.


Does routine make you uneasy? Do you usually try to escape it? 


The Joy of Breathing


You can breathe your way out of most problems. You can breathe your way to peace. It’s so simple.

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