What Makes A Good Routine & How to Build One?
In the last ‘Chai Time Wednesdays’ post we left off on the topic of building the perfect routine that’s unique to you. Today, let’s talk about why it is even important to have a routine and how you can create one that is ideal for you.
You may have noticed that I keep emphasising on you. That is because I truly believe that there is no one fixed routine that works for everyone.
I feel the current personal development industry has become restricted in the sense that it tries to sell just one type of lifestyle. For example, ‘The 5 AM club’ concept may work for many successful individuals, but may not necessarily be practical for everyone. And there is no need to beat yourself over it. Like they say, “All Five Fingers Are Not the Same.”
Long story short, we are all different, and our priorities vary. So naturally, our routine will also shape up differently. Now let’s talk about:
What Makes A Good Routine?
A good routine is made up of the right habits that you can do consistently. Create habits that you can actually commit to and complete. Unrealistic habits that become one-off occurrences will not lead to a well-established routine. When building a habit, always ask yourself these questions:
Will I be able to do this on a regular basis?
Is this sustainable, meaning is this a long term commitment or just a one-off thing?
Will these small steps lead me to my bigger vision?
Ever since I have met my husband, Umair, I have found some sort of balance in my life. I have always had the ‘all or none’ mentality. But with him I have learnt to take small consistent steps, instead of taking huge plunges and then falling flat on my face. For example, when it came to fitness, I felt like I was just not doing enough. I was doing HIIT, strength training, cardio and yoga workouts; while I enjoyed these exercises a lot, I genuinely struggled with doing it regularly and constantly felt like I was falling short. Umair then advised me that the point is to move my body and remain active and to do something fun that I look forward to. Because that will ensure I do it on a regular basis and ultimately see the results.
So I learnt to simplify my life and now we have both started walking daily (as much as we can), after dinner. This is the time when not only are we ‘exercising’ we also get to bond as a couple, by having heart to heart conversations. Talk about killing two birds with one stone! 😉
Jokes apart, we as humans operate best when there is some sort of structure (routine). Humans are both forgetful and loving in nature. And so it makes sense then when we look at Islamic Philosophy, the simple act of praying 5 times a day, tackles our forgetfulness by reminding us of His presence by repetition and in coming to Him we also find love. In essence, a good routine can be built by repetition of good habits that you enjoy and love doing.
How To Build A Routine?
In order for this process to be more actionable, Umair and I came up with a framework that can kickstart your routine building. Let me break it down..
1. Define Your Priorities
What is your purpose? What is it that you want exactly? Do you want a routine to create more me-time for yourself? Is it to get fit? Is it to create more space for your spiritual practice? What you want out of your routine will lay the groundwork of your personalised routine.
2. Set Mini Goals
Now that you have defined your main goal (your purpose/priorities), now is the time to break it down to short term goals that you can track with ease. Visualize yourself in the next 3-6 months, where do you want to see yourself?
3. Your Action-Plan
What is it that you will do on a daily basis that will ultimately lead you towards your vision? What are the three things you will do today that will make it amazing? Focus on making your today good and your tomorrow will be taken care of seamlessly.
4. Choose A Fixed Time
When building a habit, try to do it at the same time every day. As that builds muscle memory and you will find yourself doing it with more ease. Like how if you start waking up and sleeping at the same time, your body will start giving you signals when it's time to go to bed and will wake you up at more or less the same time too.
Similarly, build your ‘to-do list’ such that every task at hand is done at specified times, depending on your varying energy levels. For example, I like to do my readings after having breakfast, as that is when I am the most fresh and I am able to grasp concepts better. Or how Umair and I go walking at night, to unwind just before going to bed. You know yourself better, so fix a timing based on your needs and strengths.
5. Be Prepared & Have Fun
Along the way, don’t forget to have a little fun too! Prepare beforehand so that you look forward to the activities you have planned for the day. I am a chatterbox, so knowing that I get to talk about anything and everything at the end of the day when we walk, while holding hands 🙈, motivates me to make it a good and productive day. So always have something to look forward to!
6. Track Your Progress + Reward Yourself
Lastly, be kind to yourself. Don’t forget to reward yourself for reaching your milestones. Don’t be too hard on yourself and always remember that moderation is key. Nothing in excess is ever healthy - not even good habits.
A friendly reminder for all my lovely friends, please please don’t forget to be compassionate towards yourself. In the process of creating a good story, failures will be inevitable. It is a part and parcel of life. And when you do fail, it’s okay, get up and show resilience. You will eventually get there. That is life - a cumulative experience.
Rabail and Umair Khan
P.S. We have an exciting announcement! Umair and I are working on a printable in the form of a worksheet that you all can utilise to create your own personalised routine. Do keep a lookout for that