Mindset

The Simple Power of Routine

BY Mollie Donghia TIMEMarch 25, 2022 PRINT

It was a mid-winter morning. My full cup of coffee had yet to be sipped. Toys lay strewn all throughout the house, and there I stood–still in my pajamas at 10 am. I felt like I had just spent the past four hours tending to every need of my newborn baby and toddler.

I remember feeling overwhelmed, scattered, and having a general lack of motivation in that season as a young mother.

I was trying to fit all of my plans and expectations into days that started off on the wrong foot and got crazier as they went.

Now, 3 years later and one more baby in the mix, that scene from several years ago still remains fresh in my mind. Being a mommy still isn’t easy, but I’ve learned a powerful truth that is responsible for a much healthier way of living amidst this season of motherhood…

The power of routine.

Make your Brain an Ally

No matter what your circumstances are or what season of life you’re in, there lies an evident reality: human beings thrive on routine.

Psychologist William James wrote in his book, Habit,

“The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher power of mind will be set free for their own proper work.” 

Put simply, the more of our day we can give up to a regular routine where our mind doesn’t need to be constantly thinking about what’s next becomes a healthy strategy.

Another great nugget of wisdom that William James mentioned is making our nervous system our ally rather than our enemy. Sounds simple, but how often do we have regrets about the daily choices we make or beat ourselves up for not being more productive?

This thought has been a big discovery in helping me to formalize my routines. Why wouldn’t I want the most powerful muscle of my body working as my ally? How could I use this insight as a tailwind to push me forward and onto a path of more meaningful living?

When my day is filled with unorganized thoughts and too many decisions to make, it quickly becomes challenging and tiresome.

I have many little ones vying for my guidance. And when I don’t have a routine of how to do this or that, everything seems to spin.

I’ve decided in the last few years that in order for me to thrive in this season of motherhood, routines must be present and effective throughout my day.

If you’re someone who struggles with feeling unmotivated, lazy, scattered, or even overwhelmed, I would encourage you to not only keep reading this post, but also do one simple thing…

How to Begin

Decide on one (yes, just one!) new habit that you can start today. Whether it be a morning, daytime, or evening habit, begin by thinking of what you’ll stop doing in order to make this habit a routine.

For example, I will get to bed by 9:30pm so that I can wake up by 5:30am and have time to myself before my kids wake up. I will stop staying up too late, which prevents me from waking up earlier.

This is the starting point to positive change that I made a few years ago. That one decision to form a new habit has been so inspiring and has led me to see what other areas of my day can be improved through the power of routine.

There will be future blog posts dedicated to how my life has been affected by specific routines, but for now I’d encourage you to begin by choosing one new habit to begin.

Make it Easy and Enjoyable

I’ve come to realize that in order for routines to be effective and done with ease, they have to be attainable and even (dare I say) somewhat enjoyable.

Don’t set out to create an extensive routine that causes you stress where you’re constantly making exceptions and excuses. Instead, make your routines so easy that you can’t, not do them. 

Take my simple routine of laying out clothes for the next day each evening before bed. It’s become so effortless that the decision not to do it, even on my most exhausted nights, is quickly dismissed. I know this easy routine is one of the decisions that has multiplying effects on how my morning begins. It’s a habit that is so beneficial (yet so simple) and has become a regular routine because of the ease of it.

Allow simple habits to guide you towards becoming a more intentional person. Instead of seeing life’s daily events as obstacles to overcome, use the power of routine to simplify the amount of time your brain has to decide what needs to happen next.

Stay tuned for more posts on how routine is a regular part of my everyday life and why I’ve decided to never go back.

 This story was originally published on This Evergreen Home Blog

Mollie (and her husband, Mike) blog at This Evergreen Home where they share their experience with living simply, intentionally, and relationally in this modern world. You can follow along by subscribing to their twice-weekly newsletter.
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