Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Why do we build routines in our lives?

I like routines and have built lots of them into my life: waking up around 8am with music, drinking a few cappuccinos in bed before I get up, shower and start my day, an afternoon walk, and sleeping at around 23:30. Since some 10 years, I have changed one of my routines: no more double espressos in the evening; else my sleep will be ruined.

Other well-known human routines are breakfast, lunch and dinner at the common local times. In the Netherlands that would usually be breakfast at 7am, lunch at 12am and dinner at 6pm. The common office working hours are 9am to 5pm. Our lives are governed by (very) many routines.

In a recent conversation, I was wondering aloud who and what we would be without our routines. I had no immediate answer to my own question and thus made a note to write about this. A Google search revealed some surprising answers. Example:

“If you think depending on routines will turn you into a boring, predictable, uncreative automaton, think again. Routines are the secret weapon of creative professionals and have been for centuries.” (source)

Even music is an example of the above. The chorus in lyrics is a routine that makes you remember that song. Many sports games also apply routines (eg, default attack procedures, default defence mechanisms). Our study routines are at the moments that match with our optimized focus. Our weekly schedule of house chores (eg, cleaning, laundry, vacuuming) helps us remember.

The default workplace is full of routines, like organisational procedures and standardized (mass) production processes. This also allows for immediate knowledge transfer to new employees (eg, handbooks, manuals for quality management). Mass production, in and of itself, is an example of (production) routines.

Hence, routines improve efficiency, effectiveness, transfer of knowledge, and time management. Routines are thus optimizing our TimeSpace dimension. The opposite is also true. Any deviation from a routine requires excessive resources as every single micro decision is new. Even writing down the exact sequence of each of those micro decisions is cumbersome (eg, which leg first?).

Philosopher William James posited that habits and routines free our brains from continual small decisions, so we can more easily develop and use “our higher powers of mind.” Using routines is a matter of allocating resources. Research shows us that willpower, like a muscle, gets tired when used.” (source)

“The surest way to discipline passion is to discipline time: decide what you want or ought to do during the day, then always do it at exactly the same moment every day, and passion will give you no trouble.”

A quote by W. H. Auden (1907-1973), a British-American poet.

Routine (1993) by De Kast
band, lyrics, video, Wiki-band

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.


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1 Comment

  1. Linkedup

    For cva patients routines have to be reinvented and trained.


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