The Power of Routine

Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition. –W.H. Auden

I love routine. Rise at 5:30 am, read, write, post a marketing message for a local coffee cafe, breakfast, exercise. And so on.

Maintaining a routine while traveling is always tough.

Steve Jobs famously made a trip to Japan and saw how the companies all had employee uniforms. He thought, if I had a uniform, then there is one fewer decision I must make daily. So he always wore a black T-shirt and jeans. Routine. His mind could focus on more important things that what to wear today.

Bill Hybels, senior pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL, tells a story about a man who came up to him after a service and talked about how he had turned his life around. What did you do? “I get up a little earlier in the morning and spend 15 minutes in my favorite chair reading the Bible. Every day,” he replied.

That has become a Willow Creek mantra. “Chair time.” Try it. Even when traveling.

Mihaly Csikszentmihaly studied creative people. He is credited with defining “flow”, that state of being you get into when you are totally engrossed in what you’re doing. “Most creative individuals find out early what their best rhythms are for sleeping, eating, and working, and abide by them even when it is tempting to do otherwise. They wear clothes that are comfortable, they interact only with people they find congenial, they do only things they think are important.”

What is the result of adopting this routine or rhythm of life? “Personalizing patterns of action helps to free the mind from the expectations that make demands on attention and allows intense concentration on matters that count,” concludes Csikzentmihalyi.

Over and over in the New Testament, we read things such as “Jesus, as was his custom” and “Paul, as was his custom.” I’ve always been impressed with the description of the life of Daniel, the prophet, who early on decided upon his diet and took time out from administering a vast empire to pray three times a day.

What’s in your routine?

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