A routine is one of the most powerful productivity tools I know of. It provides structure and direction, like a map to daily life. Many people think of routines as restrictive, but I think the opposite is true.

Up until last year, I didn't attempt to live by a daily routine. I went to sleep when I felt like it, woke up when I had to, and tried to get everything done in between. This led to a lot of late nights, working on last-minute projects that were due the week before.

Finally, I decided I'd had enough. Things needed to change.

I worked out the rough outline of a daily routine and gave it a shot. Very quickly, I found I had more time than I knew what to do with. I tweaked the routine, added a few things, and tried again. Before long I'd settled on a daily routine that gave me time for work, sleep, hobbies, and family.

The results have been incredible. I'm convinced everyone would benefit from a daily routine, because of the freedoms it brings.

The Freedom of Focus

When relying on a daily routine, you rise above the limited focus of distractions and demands on your time. With that map to guide you, you can secure a clear sense of direction for what to spend your time on next.

When I wake up every morning, I don't have to wonder what I should do first. I know that my first task is to stretch and then say my morning prayers. From there, I go for my morning run.

The Freedom of Clarity

A daily routine provides clear expectations for those around you.

Sharing your routine with those you love lets them know when you need space to yourself, as well as when you've set aside time for nothing but them

Every night, I've scheduled time to sit and read with my wife. This lets her know she's important enough to fit in my routine, and gives us both something to look forward to. As well, she knows that I'm working between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM and that I'll be unavailable most of that time.

The Freedom of Flexibility

If you approach a daily routine like a restriction or cage, you aren't likely to follow through. That's where many people get caught up, and fail to adhere to their routine.

When treated like a map, a routine can be liberating because it provides a point of reference.

Like most people, I'm easily distracted by the unusual, comical, or urgent. Once I'm ready to refocus, however, I have my daily routine to get me back on track.

The Freedom of Margin

This, by far, is the greatest benefit of a daily routine.

Structure helps you identify margin in your life, to find available time you didn't know you had. That time can then be spent with family, friends, or working on your dream projects that you've always put off.

For me, this margin has been life-changing.

Despite the fact that I work a full-time job and have all the responsibilities of a newlywed husband, I'm able to publish new content on this site every single week. As well, I have time to spend alone with my wife, and time to take care of my own mental, physical, and spiritual needs.

If you don't have a daily routine right now, today is the time to change that.

Question: What could a daily routine make possible in your life?

6 thoughts on “The Liberating Power of a Daily Routine

  1. Hallo John, great post with a simple yet pertinent reminder of the necessity of routine. I’m at a point and age in my life where I seem to have no routine at all, waking and sleeping and slacking off at projects at the last minutes just as you said. A good friend of mine a few days ago shocked me with the reality that I need to start controlling my schedules and not allow my schedules to control me; this post confirms this.

    The analogy of a routine being a map for my day hit home for me. I see it now; it is wise to have a map that will guide me on the path of productivity from the start to the end of the day. Without this map, I have been living most of my days wantonly to whatever events occur; I have been a slave to events and not a master of them.

    I want to begin a change in my life with one simple routine; sleeping at 11 pm and waking at 5 am. I want to have a set sleep pattern, which should enable me make the most of the rest of my day. I will give this a week starting today to get into the groove, then add another next week.

    I hope your book helps in my journey, thanks, cheers!

  2. One of my favorite (most inspiring & helpful) books on creativity is choreographer/director Twyla Tharp “THE CREATIVE HABIT” She hares her long-practiced and very powerful habits (routine) that have kept her on the razor’s of the most “actively creative” alive. And, me thinks, NOT having a routine IS a routine.

  3. Good article. And I like your thought, John. “If you approach a daily routine like a cage” versus embracing it. Discipline may seem painful, but it is the key to advancing your goals.

    You also seem to have a balance between the relational, physical, career, and spiritual that works.

    1. Thanks Skip, the pursuit of that balance is ongoing. I’m glad that cage analogy resonated with you, I think a lot of people don’t realize that’s how they treat routine, and so they miss out on the positives.

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