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Why I love routines

January 7, 2010

Naomi was talking in Day 2 of Summer Camp about how creating routines is a big way to get past fear, and while I still haven’t sat down and defined this fairly nebulous fear of … whatever it is that I’m afraid of, I totally get the idea that routine is a good way to cope with overwhelm (and I’m sure fear), especially for me.

I THRIVE on routine. I thrive on having a set schedule and knowing how much time I have to do X, and how much time I will need for Y, and what I want to get done today. To do lists are my LIFE.

And I used to think that it was something that meant I wasn’t creative, but I’m coming to realize that my desire for routine in my life isn’t uncreative at all. It actually frees my mind up to be thinking about more creative things because I know that I don’t have to be worrying that I’ve forgotten to do Z, or I also want to accomplish Q.

Because without a routine and a plan of how I’m going to go about getting something done, or a plan of how I want my day to go, I just try to do everything all at once.

If you think I’m kidding, I’m not. It’s kind of pathetic. I’ll lay down on the couch to take a nap for thirty minutes, and then I’ll be up ten minutes later at the computer because something I was thinking about while I was resting made me remember this other thing I wanted to blog about, and half way through the one blog post I’ll have started another one on a completely separate topic that I also want to blog about and then the doorbell will ring and the UPS man will deliver a package that’s not even for me, so I don’t get to open it, which means it’s not the books I ordered, and that will remind me that I wanted tea, and then I’ll pass the laundry room and remember that I need to wash my socks or I’ll be out by the end of tomorrow.

And in the end, I didn’t accomplish ANYTHING that I started. I didn’t finish my nap, I didn’t finish either of the two blog posts, nor did I ever get my tea (although I did almost melt the kettle on the stove when it ran out of water because I forgot to put the little thing down that makes it whistle when it’s done, so it boiled dry). I did get the laundry in, but I then forgot about it and it sat in the washer until the next morning when I opened my sock drawer to find it empty and remembered that I never did dry those socks.

Routines, and lists, REALLY help. If I know that I have to do laundry and I want to post to my blog and take a nap, and I get distracted halfway through by the UPS man and my desire for tea, when I come back to my list, I can see “Laundry” and remember, “Oh shit, my socks. They were done an hour ago!” And when my laundry is drying, I can come back to my list and say “Oh, right, my blog post.” And then that gets done. And the next thing on the list gets done. And at the end of the day, I’m much happier knowing that I accomplished something and that I’m not a complete loser and failure.

And, if I put those lists into a greater system of recurring activities, like Tuesday: Laundry day, and Post a blog entry daily, then I actually get things done. When I’m able to finish one project and then consciously decide to move onto the next, and it’s a wonderful and liberating feeling.

Also, apparently I really like starting sentences with “and.” Must work on that. :\


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