Last week Micheal Schecter from A Better Mess wrote a post called Find the Ritual In Your Routine. I have been thinking a lot about that piece. I have mostly been thinking about my own habits and the affect they have on me. What I have found with some habits is they have a similar result on me as the Getting Things Done Methodology. A quieter brain. If I don’t have to think about them they do not bounce around and produce undue anxiety.
Michael is right about how the routines can be heavy but my thought is there can be some huge benefits in terms of the routine.
Our routines can weigh on us. At first their consistency can be a comfort, but over time it tends to grow into something we dread. You can try shaking things up, but inevitably many aspects of our lives become routine.
Some of my habits/routines:
Carry habit: iPhone in left front pocket, keys in right front pocket, wallet in right rear and fieldnotes in the left. Maintaining this “habit” prevents me from worrying were things are. Also prevents that TSA-like pat down we all give ourselves when we are looking to see if we have everything before we leave the house.
Setting up a landing zone: This is a simple place where when you get home from work you dump all your stuff in your pockets. This way I always know where it is.
Coffee habit: I almost always get a grade quad Starbucks Ristretto Americano with vanilla in it(sorry @marcoament). The odd thing here is when I place the top on the cup I make sure the pour spout is 180 degrees opposite the cup seam. This way when I grab the coffee in the car I can use my fingers to make sure I know where the spout is before I raise it to my mouth. Preventing a hot mess in my lap.
Coffee Habit #2: I usually get coffee 2x a day. Morning and afternoon. Part of the process of getting coffee gets me out of my head and allows for a temporary change of scenery. While many might find this distracting, this generally allows me to step away from the work at hand and think about it differently for a few minutes.
These are silly examples. Perhaps OCD like ways to tame your mind to allow you to focus on other things, or maybe they are just nuts. I think everyone has routines, and I am willing to bet no two are exactly alike. But the key thing is:
I agree with Michael in the value of separating the items into have and want items. Trying to find the balance is the difficulty I suspect many of us go through.