People, we often underestimate the power, control and nimbleness of a solid habit or routine. We snub our noses at the ordinary, the old fashioned, the simple. But listen, there is so much amazing brain research out there that proves what our Grandmas knew. Routines and habits BE gettin' the job done.
1. When something is routine or a habit we do not have to weigh options, reinvent the wheel or check in with our feelings to get into action. It's Sunday, it's laundry day, I do the laundry. I do the laundry if I'm tired, have a cold, just got back from vacation or horror of all horrors, I don't FEEL like doing the laundry. I do the laundry if there are 5 loads or 1/2 a load. Bada boo, bada bing - clean clothes all week long!
2. Routines and habits help us parent, and I for one need all the help I can get! It's not so much we are mean, it's just that we always do a 10 minute tidy before bed time. It's not that I'm controlling so much as NO ONE moves on with their evening until the kitchen is clean. Dad isn't a poop, it's that we only watch TV Friday - Sunday.
3. Habits and routines treat us gently and kindly. If I have the habit of looking at my calendar each and every time I make an appointment I avoid re-scheduling, re-jiggering and accidentally double booking my day. When we are late, when we double book, when we are unprepared we usually aren't so nice to ourselves. Running late? Every red light is personal, every slow driver is out to get me, and oh the berating I give myself. After I've been so mean to myself, I certainly deserve that giant, sugary coffee drink to forgive me for all the insults I hurled at myself. Habits and routines can minimize these moments, short circuit the cycle, get us on a better path.
4. Routines and habits free us up to do more interesting things. When getting up, getting out of the house, laundry, dishes, tidying, are mostly routine -- we then have time for more fun stuff. Planning trips, going to parties, playing Banangrams, trying a new recipe, researching new video cameras or reading a new book. . .
5. Routines and habits are so fun that here's some reading for us all! Focus. The Hidden Driver of Excellence - amazing brain research on how to focus, what happens when we lose focus. The Power of Habit - you will never look at Febreze the same way. Crazy/Busy - an easy quick read that nails the argument FOR routine, Hallowell makes them sound fun.