Imagine. You wake up every day at exactly the same time. You eat the same breakfast, do the same workout exercises, take the same route to work. Have lunch at the same place every day. Use the same apps every day. You practice the same skills.
Sounds boring, doesn’t it?
I thought so too until I discovered how many advantages there are to consistency and a well-planned routine.
The Advantages of Routinizing Your Life
If I maintain the same morning routine, I never feel groggy when I wake up. I never forget my wallet or my phone. I never forget my car keys or where I parked my car.
If I maintain my food routine, I never have headaches or stomach aches. I never feel hungry or drained. I never have a meal that I don’t like.
If I maintain my same exercise routine, I never get injured or have sore muscles. I never lack the energy to exercise. I never have to wait my turn for a machine at the gym.
When you look at the list above it looks very unrealistic, almost like fiction. But that’s really how it works. If you figure out what keeps you at peak performance and you never deviate, you will never have to deal with those problems again.
Eat the Same Food Every Day
I started experimenting with food when I was first trying to get in shape. So after doing some research, I figured out what my body needs and wrote down a few example meals to have for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Naturally, it wasn’t perfect at first. Sometimes I felt hungry or I didn’t like the meal. But after a month or so of tweaking, I was to the point where I was really happy. I loved all my meals, they gave me the energy I needed and kept my body in shape.
My 3 meals + snacks were quite diverse and included all the necessary nutrients that I needed, so I didn’t have to diversify from day to day.
After doing that for a month or so, I started noticing the advantages really quickly.
Results Are Predictable and Controllable
Predictability sounds boring, but when it comes to goals, it’s really useful.
When we’re setting goals, we try to predict the action steps that will get us there. But that’s just a guesstimate. If you’ve never worked on that goal before, there’s no way to know with certainty if it’s going to get you the result that you want.
However, if you do the same thing for a few weeks, you start to notice the trends really quickly.
For example, if you eat the same meals every day for a month and lose 2–3 pounds, you can safely predict that you’ll lose 2–3 more pounds next month with the same routine.
This is much more reliable than setting a random goal and trying to reach it by constantly modifying your diet. Instead of guessing the results, this method relies on previous performance to predict the outcome.
You Don’t Need Willpower
Since you’re doing the same thing every day, it becomes a habit pretty quickly. After that, you don’t really need much effort or discipline to maintain the same routine.
You don’t have to make the decision to stay away from sugar every day. You skip the temptation altogether.
After doing that for long enough, you even stop looking at other foods as available options. Your mind learns that you eat only certain type of foods. You don’t even get the impulse to eat the chocolate when you see it lying around somewhere.
Optimization and Saving Time
If you do the same routine every day, it becomes really easy to notice where the inconsistencies and time wasters are. You can save yourself huge amounts of time and effort that way.
For example, I was following the slow carb diet and ate a cup of lentils every day. Which takes about 30 minutes to prepare, cook and clean up. So instead I cooked a huge pot of lentils in the weekend and had it ready for every day. Boom, 30 minutes saved every day.
Another big optimization is the shopping. Since you need the same ingredients for foods you can buy in bulk and figure out where the easiest and cheapest place to buy foods is.
Since I know exactly what I need I only have to go to the supermarket twice a week. And I never have to throw away food because I know exactly how much I need.
Same Wake-Up and Bedtime
This one is even better since our bodies work better with a consistent sleep schedule. The more consistent you are the better your sleep will be. You’ll also wake up refreshed and ready to go instead of feeling groggy.
No More Sleepless Nights
When you do the same bedtime routine you take all the randomness out of it. You’ll be able to figure out all the things that disturb your sleep. You’ll figure out what it takes to have a calm and restful night.
Every Day Will Be Productive
You know those days when you wake up and before you know it it’s 1 pm and you’ve done nothing significant? All of those are gone too.
If you do the same morning routine over and over again, it’s like you’re building a highway for your mind and body. You don’t have to carve a new path through the woods every morning.
You no longer procrastinate on the internet because you’re used to starting with your most important task first. You don’t have to use willpower since it’s already a habit.
But I Love Variety
Variety is an important part of life, and I don’t want to discredit it. But when it comes to achieving your goals, I think it’s overrated. You can make progress much faster if you are following a consistent routine.
We’re already creatures of habit. We’re already doing mostly the same things every day.
For example, try to think of the regular meals that you’ve had in the past 2 months. I’m not talking about when you go to a restaurant and order something fancy, just the meals that you typically have every day.
I bet that most people can’t name more than 10 meals.
So since we’re already doing the same things every day, why not design that routine consciously? Why not pick the 3–4 of the best meals and have them every day?
Of course, life is very unpredictable. Shit happens. You won’t be able to make it every day perfectly, but that’s OK. That’s why we have…
Having a few exceptions here and there is not a problem, quite the opposite in fact. The occasional variety will feel even more exciting and enjoyable.
It will feel like a celebration, and you won’t have to worry getting fat because you know you’ll be back in your healthy routine tomorrow.
The more organized and in control of your life you are, the more you can afford to be spontaneous and crazy. Since your life feels so stable and secure, having one crazy day and going completely off track won’t be a problem at all.
Pitfalls That Come With Routine
If you do the same thing every day, there’s a tendency to get tunnel vision. You can optimize the routine and make it very efficient, but you can start losing context of the big stuff.
A great example for me was when I created a daily routine to collect all my coaching and website stats to see how my business was doing.
Coach.me didn’t have an easy way to show long term stats. You could only see those for each individual day.
So I started entering the data manually every day in a spreadsheet. In the beginning, it took about 5 minutes to check everything and write it down. In a month I had optimized the routine so much that it took me just 2 minutes a day.
I optimized it to a maximum, but only within that very limited box of entering the numbers manually. And I was stuck with that routine for months, thinking there is no further way to improve and optimize it.
But after a while, I figured out that I could spend a few hours working on it and automate the whole process. I did that (using iMacros) and the whole routine became obsolete. From 2 minutes a day, I got it down to 0.
So to avoid getting blindsided, it’s a good idea to review your routines every month or so. But don’t think about how to optimize it using incremental changes. Think out of the box. Instead of getting 10–15% better, how can you make it 150–300% better?
But I’m Not a Mindless Robot!
I understand that’s how it might feel at first. After all, if you routinize your life and do the same thing every day, what’s the point of living?
But that’s not the point at all. You don’t routinize your whole life. Only the boring stuff. Only the chores and mindless responsibilities.
That way, you can get through those much faster and do whatever the hell you want for the rest of your day, knowing your life will still be stable.
Originally published at georgehalachev.com on January 21, 2017.