When we’re on the road, Chad and I like to listen to Great Courses CDs, and one of them we listened to recently was on decision making. Chad wasn’t excited about it when I first told him the title, but he gave it a chance and we both quickly became enthralled listening to it.
One of the topics dealt with in this course was how will power affects your decision-making ability.
I had heard this idea explained somewhere else as well, so hearing it again really drilled it into my head. Here’s the crux of the idea:
You only have so much will power per day, and once you use it up, the rest of the day is pretty much shot as far as your decision-making ability goes.
This means that if you get up in the morning and you have to use your will power to decide IF you’re going to take a shower, IF you’re going to brush your teeth, IF you’re going to make breakfast or pick something up on the way, you’ve already used up a lot of your will power before you’ve even left the house for work.
So when you’re confronted with a rude client later in the day, and in a split second you have to decide whether to tell the person off or bite your tongue, you may be all out of will power and make the poor choice.
That’s why having routines helps. Routines equals less decision making, equals more will power for the important stuff.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t decide whether I’m going to brush my teeth in the morning, I just brush them. Same with my daily yoga routine. I don’t think about it anymore, I just do it.
One of the things we are constantly trying to figure out here on the homestead is better time management – because there are just so many projects to get done. And one of the ways we’ve been tweaking our time management is looking at how we can set up more routines.
Here are a few of the ways we’re already using routines to our advantage:
- We have a division of labor. A while back we sat down with a list of all the chores that need to be done every day and divvied them up. That way we don’t have to wonder who’s going to feed the donkeys or who’s going to make dinner.
- We have a weekly schedule. We have our week scheduled out in quite a lot of detail. We know what to expect of the day, and don’t have to go around asking each other, “What are you working on today?”
- We have a set morning routine. Each of us has specific tasks we each need to get done before starting work in the morning. Having a morning routine helps us stay out of each other’s way so we can get ready for work and make efficient use of our time.
I’m going to hazard a guess that most of you reading this have some sort of morning routine that you developed, probably without really thinking about it.
I remember talking to a friend one time who told me that he hated routine, that routine was boring. This wasn’t a kid, this was a middle aged adult man. I have a feeling he didn’t realize exactly how many routines he had that were making his life easier. Perhaps most of us don’t!
I know routines make my life easier – and that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy being spontaneous – but having too many choices can lead to paralysis.
Case in point – Netflix. I have access to Netflix, but I don’t have a Netflix routine. So on the rare moments when I decide to go watch something on Netflix, I spend 30 minutes perusing the choices, and usually end up closing it and doing something else. Too many choices. On the other hand, I don’t really want a Netflix routine, so I’m fine with this.
I’m curious to know if anyone out there has thought about how routine makes their lives easier. Or if you haven’t, are you thinking about it now?
Vive la routine!