Routines: sticking to the plan with tenacity
February 21, 2020 2:20 PM   Subscribe

I am looking to establish some solid routines to make myself more productive. I want to be more organized and consistent each day and stop wasting time. Getting up early, exercise, write, etc.

I’ve ready the usual books: 7 Habits, Getting things done, Grit, The Power of Habit, Daily Rituals, etc. While they all provide great tools and methods for setting and achieving goals, I find myself saying I should do this or that and never actually doing it for long enough to make it a habit or ritual or getting long-term benefits.

What are some ways in which you took steps to implement a new routine that stuck with you. How did you get yourself to consistently achieve your objectives and avoid distractions? What gets you up in the morning and helps you stick to your plan? What’s your trusted system? How did you become tenacious?
posted by GernBlandston to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: One thing that's worked for me is to stop thinking a routine is forever. If I tell myself I'm just going to do this routine for 3 months or 6 months or a year, then I don't feel guilty when I stop after 3 months. And, if the routine is working for me, I can extend the amount of time.

And, if it doesn't get traction, I can tweak it by changing the time or nature of the routine and give it another season.

To this end I'm now really aware of lunar cycles and seasonal cycles, since I often use these to measure new routines I want to establish. (Start on a new moon or full moon and check in with myself next new moon or full moon. Start at the beginning of a season, and either recalibrate or continue at the beginning of the next season).

That said, this is one of my constant frustrations. I'm much happier with a well-regimented life, but random acts of chaos continually cause me to change my plans and get out of my routine.
posted by Patadave at 2:43 PM on February 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: One thing that helps is to make things visible, e.g. have your exercise clothes hanging next to your bed when you wake up so they're the first thing you see. Or if you want to floss more, keep floss out on the counter, etc. Then think of good rewards for whatever the habit is, and keep rewarding yourself until the habit itself is pleasurable.
posted by pinochiette at 3:55 PM on February 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

It helps to make it specific. Getting up early is vague. Getting up at 7 am is specific. So, think through your goals and make them specific, and then run through that imaginary day and make sure you like it. You might find that you don't want to do all the things daily.
posted by xo at 5:46 PM on February 21, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Apps & nesting. I have one of those habit-forming apps for doing my physical therapy exercises (where I could convince myself I was going to do them and then go to bed not having done them) and it was helpful, so I gradually expanded it to include flossing, and then brushing and flossing, and then meditating. After a while, you just get used to doing the thing and don't have to do it just so you can check a box. The other thing that was helpful was nesting tasks. So especially for short tasks (flossing) I would do it in between something else, like starting making coffee and being finished making coffee, in between that I would go floss.Stuffing it in somewhere where there didn't seem like there was a space for a thing made it seem a lot less like it was something to do. Exercise was consistently hard for me until I started to see it more like "sleep medicine, earlier in the day" and less like exercise, so maybe finding ways to reframe some of the things you want to do in terms that are more results-oriented.
posted by jessamyn at 6:09 PM on February 21, 2020 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I worked with a coach. He had me create a physical list of things to do each day. His theory is to start very small. If you end up not doing something, it means you made it too hard. If you want to exercise, start with five minutes a day. If that turns out to be too much, make it two minutes. If that’s too much, do one push-up. You’ll create a habit, and you can gradually do more. I now get up early, meditate for twenty minutes, write for fifteen minutes, and do yoga before I go to work. But I started really small.
posted by FencingGal at 4:49 AM on February 22, 2020 [8 favorites]

Similar to FencingGal's comment, you might be interested in BJ Fogg's Tiny Habits concept. Tedx Talk, website.

posted by bunderful at 12:03 PM on February 22, 2020

I have found journaling helpful when it comes to improving my time/life management. First I write out what I planned to do. Then I describe my actual day. Then, if I didn't get everything done that I hoped to, I analyze what I've written in order to figure out why, and come up with ways to do better in future. I find it much easier to be objective when there's a black and while description of my day right in front of me.
posted by orange swan at 5:35 PM on February 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's how I do it.
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:55 AM on February 24, 2020

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