Routines have a really nerdy reputation. You know, dorks use them, our Grandma used them, they are for losers. You guys, give these nerdy guys a CHANCE. Once you get to know a routine, you will see they are actually way cooler then they appeared at first glance. Take off those thick glasses, plop in some contacts and bada boo bada bing your life just got easier, more efficient, productive and relaxing.
It's true, I speak the gospel, routines and habits are holy and fabulous and once you embrace a few you'll call me and say, "Paaaaiiiiiiggggeeeeee, WHY didn't you tell me about this sooner!?" And I'll be all like, "Yo, I think I told you about routines. . . but maybe you didn't hear me?"
Habits and routines are made of three parts: a trigger, an action, and a reward.
UNPRODUCTIVE HABIT - it's time to sit down and write a blog post or an essay or any other old thing I need to write: Trigger - feelings of anxiety, inferiority, fear. Thoughts of "I have nothing to say!" Sit at computer with Safari page open. Action - surf the internet to celebrity stalk, surf Facebook, feel bad about self, spouse, children, vacation choices, click and click and click. Keep clicking until I find someone (celebrity or Facebook friend) who I feel superior to. Embrace and enjoy the judgmental feelings about how stupid they are. Reward - feelings of superiority, or I throw on the comfortable old feelings of inferiority and being less then. Generate feelings so bad I need both Ben N Jerry to help me feel better (or caffeine, or more clicking, or a nap, or a glass of wine). Feelings of anxiety are clicked, eaten or drunk away.
So often we dive right into the action and just try to yell and shame ourselves into doing the thing we've been avoiding for 30 + plus years. How's it been working folks? Yelling and shaming and blaming has it's place, but not usually when trying to coax our brains into a new habit. Ever tried seduction people. We can create lovely, life enhancing and calorie free triggers that lead us to the action and then bada boo bada bing - a new KIND of reward. Let's review!
PRODUCTIVE HABIT - it's time to sit down and write a blog post, or an essay or any other old thing I need to write. Trigger - feelings of anxiety, scented candle lit, spa music playing in the background, the i phone on 'airplane mode' and timer set for 25 minutes. Mixed in with the old thoughts of "I have nothing to say!" a few new thoughts pop up - I love the smell of that candle, I feel like I'm at Elizabeth Arden, I can do almost anything for 25 minutes. Action - open up blank document, anxiety, spa music, candle, sitting down and showing up. Feelings mixed of satisfaction due to following through on what I said I would do. Still some anxiety. Notice that no phone is beeping, buzzing or nudging me. Type a bit, "Oh my gosh -- good idea! The sentences are flowing. Um, this one isn't exactly right, but I'll write it anyway because I'm pretty sure I'll show up again tomorrow for 25 minutes." Keep typing. Timer rings. Reward - Feeling of being capable, of being trustworthy, of following through. Creativity flowing, possibilities bouncing around, energy released. Feelings of anxiety floating away in a 25 minute productivity bubble.
WORDS OF CAUTION: While the habit builds I will have to tolerate a mixed bag of both unproductive habit and productive habit. I can't give up after a couple of days of internet stalking. A few months later I might find I spend more times in the productive habit mode then I do in the unproductive habit mode. Bada boo, bada bing . . . a new habit has taken hold. Now how about the laundry?!