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Thriveful Thursday: 2 Ways Routines Give You Freedom

September 10, 2020

Today is the first Thriveful Thursday post, and yes, I made up the word “Thriveful.” Thoughtful + Thriving = Thriveful.

2020 has been more or less turned upside down by COVID-19. My friends, family members, clients, and I have all responded both similarly and differently, but one thing that has consistently come up in conversation is the discomfort of a disrupted routine. Unpredictability showed up in March and is overstaying its welcome. Since so much is overtly up for change right now, routines can be a way to bring back a sense of control. Routines can be clock-based or flow-based or both. What does that mean? Clock-based routines are more schedule-like in that certain things are done at certain times in the day, week, or month. Some examples are leaving the house at 8:30am so you can get to work by 9am, or taking the trash out every Tuesday night for the Wednesday morning pick-up. Flow-based routines rely more on grouping activities together based on order of operations, energy intensity, or similarity. Something along the lines of exercise followed by a shower (order of operations), working on a chapter in your novel followed by knitting (high intensity to low intensity), or administrative tasks like phone calls and emails (similarity). What makes routines important?

Routines give us freedom in two ways: 1. Motivation and Willpower are limited resources. The more you can automate parts of your life, the less motivation and willpower you’ll have to tap into, leaving them available for more demanding things. Decision-fatigue is real since every choice we make is an act of problem-solving. Even mundane choices require effort. By not having to actively think about when or how things get taken care of, you free up your brain a little bit for challenging and/or creative endeavors. 2. Routines can be grounding and reduce overall stress. Anxiety feeds off of unpredictability. Adding bookends by doing the same things in the morning and at night or something at the same time of each week or month can create stability. Parts of a routine act as anchor points when we experience things that are out of our control. It can also build a sense of competence and hope because you’re in control of those actions and you know how to perform them well.

What part of your day, week, or month can you add a little structure to?

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