Leap Year Lesson #46: Routines Are Great, Except When They Aren’t

Posted: February 15, 2012 in Change
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My day started with an unwanted break in my routine. We were out of soap in the shower and I couldn’t find any anywhere. Body wash would have to do this time. That slight change in routine really threw me off more than I anticipated. When I finished my shower, turned off the water and started toweling dry, I realized I forgot to wash my hair. So back on goes the water for me to do what I had forgotten.

I immediately started thinking how easily we get into routines and how the simplest changes can cause unnecessary confusion or chaos. Of course, many routines are helpful and deserve continuation, but a break in a routine may also be an opportunity to evaluate whether the routine is worth continuing or not.

For many months, for example, I was in the habit of spending 1-2 hours a night at home perusing the Twitter feed from a host of people I follow, clicking through to articles they recommended about subjects of interest. When I changed roles at my company in December and suddenly had more things competing for my time, it dawned on me eventually that this was a routine that had to go.

The same thing happened with a couple of newsletters I was in the habit of reading daily. After reading them, I might bookmark articles, save them and pass them on to others. Yes, they were in a field of personal interest, but not one I have any official responsibility for at work or away from work. The routine had to go in favor of newer, more important and relevant tasks.

I won’t be giving up soap in the shower, though. That’s a routine that makes my world a better place. But I’ve learned in the last couple of months that not everything that becomes a habit deserves to remain so.

Order and organization are good, but doing things just because you’ve always done them is no virtue.

Evaluate the routines in your daily life. Which ones are worth keeping and which ones do you need to let go? Consider leap year lesson #46 – Routines are great, except when they aren’t.

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