Like a wardrobe, your routines should evolve with the seasons of your life, according to productivity blogger Ben Whiting.
All too often, Whiting says, people will hold onto routines even when they no longer work.
“Your goals and dreams as you move through life will shift and change in some ways, and so your “wardrobe” — your routines — should be fitted to not only what’s going on outside of you… but also to what’s going on with you as a person,” Whiting tells NBC News BETTER.
A good routine will help you build practice and give you the momentum to push towards your goals, Whiting says. But for a routine to be truly effective, he says, it must also be flexible.
Understand that as life changes, so too will your routines
Letting go of routines can be hard, according to Whiting.
He recalls his college years. Each morning, he got up early to work out and practice basketball. As he got older, he slowly started using that time to write fiction. He would get up every morning at 4 am to practice his craft.
A good routine will help you build practice and give you the momentum to push towards your goals.
“My wife jokes that I would get up at the same time every day — that alarm goes off and I’m getting up come hell or high water, it doesn’t matter what it is,” he says. “And I think that’s a valuable trait that I have, but it’s also something that can go too far and be too controlling.”
At 31, Whiting is now married with a 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son, and works full time as a lighting designer near Dallas, Texas. In his spare time, he blogs about productivity.
“As I gained more responsibility in life and things have changed over the years from where I was 5 or 10 years ago, I’ve had to adapt the routines that I would try to put in place for side pursuits or side hustles,” he says.
Adapt a flexible routine
A routine should be flexible enough that there is balance between being able to carry through with a goal without being so dogmatic that you stick with it even when it’s no longer useful, says Whiting.
The designer says routines are still important to him, but that flexibility is key. To prioritize time with his children, Whiting has allowed his writing routine to become less rigid. But he has no intention of letting it go by the wayside.
“I’m trying to make it more regular, and that usually ends up being something that I do maybe on my lunch break, or I’ll do brainstorming on my commute home, and then kind of look for other gaps and available time to make progress,” he says.
How to know it’s time to adapt
When Whiting feels stuck in a routine, he asks himself two questions:
#1: “Is this routine still serving where I want to go and what I want to do?”
#2: “Is this the best routine for what I’m trying to achieve given where I am right now, or do I need a slightly different routine?”
If the answer is “no,” then it’s time to evolve, he says.
“It’s been beneficial for me to recognize that I don’t have to hold [onto] routines at all costs,” Whiting says, “and that it’s ok to flex and adapt and change with the seasons.”
MORE TIPS FOR A BETTER DAY
- 9 things to do this morning to make your whole day more productive
- 12 tips to master your kids' morning routine and eliminate stress
- The productivity hack that allowed me to accomplish more in less time
- 15 protein-packed breakfasts that can help curb cravings