Personal Growth

BUILDING ROUTINES WHICH SERVE YOU

27 . 11 . 2018

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Written By

Katy Rose

I have been a seeker all my life.

 

Throughout my journey, I struggled to pull the various “tried and tested” techniques into a system which worked for me. In fact, half of the information for living a fulfilling life focuses on freedom and creativity: on seemingly not having a routine or system at all; focusing on flow.

 

However, for me to feel calm and to get things done, I need some kind of structure.

 

As a child, I tended to be very routine-orientated, but when I really look back, I realise that these are more ‘systems.’ Aside from the timed-aspects of the day, I have a fairly flexible schedule for the days’ events.

 

But I don’t like uncertainty, and I don’t like short-notice change. I think most of us like to know what to expect, and prefer advance notice when things are going to be different so we can make adjustments.

 

I once worked the 6:30am shift in a Buddhist café. There was a routine to it: we sat on carpet-covered crates and ate our own breakfast together in a circle before the café opened. And then there was a ‘system’ for mindfulness. As we worked, anyone was free to ring the mindfulness bell which gave us a 5 second gap to just notice how we were in the space.

 

One of the topics I explored during my time in this environment was about experiencing ‘retreats,’ and allowing ourselves to not have a schedule. This is a great technique for ‘creating mindfulness,’ because we would eat when we felt hunger, rather than when the clock hit a certain time. Being in tune with your body and thoughts allows you to act that little bit earlier: to catch any problems before they really begin to impact.

 

Irrespective of whether you work shifts or don’t work, are raising a family or creating art: systems that support us can really make a different to our wellbeing.

 

And much like with wellbeing, early intervention is usually a good idea. Therefore, when thinking about your day-to-day routines or systems, it can be helpful to reflect on the aspects which serve you.

 

On weekends and other days without that ‘structured routine’ set by others, I tend to focus on my own goals: I write my allotted words of fiction, I do some kind of exercise/stretches, and aim for one piece of fruit or vegetable in at least two meals.

 

Looking back on your day-to-day structures of the past week, what systems are currently serving you? Here are five questions to audit your daily systems, and a worksheet to explore the ideas in more detail can be downloaded here.

How often do you check in with your body? Right now are you hungry or cold, tired or in pain?

 

What have you done so far this week to nourish yourself? This is measured by activities that bring you joy, replenish your energy or create a sense of achievement. This could be dancing to a pop song, meditation or gardening.

 

How are your general energy levels? What things take up the most of your energy, and what activities nourish you? Equally, think about which activities take the most out of you.

 

What is your mental space like? Do you have racing thoughts, replay past events or worry about the future? It’s surprising how much just asking “is this true / has this happened / could I cope if it did?”

 

What makes you feel alive? How can you introduce it into your week if it isn’t already there? Re-connecting with our energy is so important.

 

These are just a couple of places to start, but if you want to feel energised and empowered, it doesn’t hurt to do a mini-review of your daily structures and how they can serve you.

And more importantly, review them regularly so you can improve them when life events shift things.

 

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