Your morning commute to work requires very little thinking. You intuitively know how to navigate safely on the road—when to speed up and slow down, when to switch lanes and even how long you can expect to wait at a traffic light, because you have taken that drive so many times.
You have become so accustomed to driving to work, it’s as if you are cruising on auto pilot, your mind free to think about what is on the radio or the tasks you have to accomplish during the day as your body does the work.
Daily routines work the same way, in that your mind and body will become used to your personal schedule and make all of the necessary adjustments. It’s a concept known as muscle memory, which is a form of procedural memory, that relies on repetition to learn and adapt to specific motor tasks.
Athletes take advantage of this concept from an early point in their sporting careers. The reason a golfer spends so much time at the driving range or on the putting green is to develop a consistent approach to each shot he or she takes. The hours of time a golfer spends practicing his body positioning, like how much bend in the knees they should have or how far apart their feet are set, they more they can concentrate on the speed of the club making contact with the ball and so on. When it comes time to compete in a tournament, their personal swing is so ingrained in them, they are able to spend all of their energy and focus on judging the slope of the course, the distance needed to land the ball in a good position for their next shot and what club to use.
For the average person, creating a daily routine is like a golfer practicing his shot on the driving range. At first, it may seem tedious to do, but by making the simplest aspects of your daily life become second nature, you will feel more relaxed and free your mind to tackle more important issues and hit more of your life goals.
Have you ever thought about how many decisions you need to make in a given day? Many more than you think! According to multiple sources on the Internet, the average adult makes about 35,000 decisions each day. How exhausting! In contrast, a child makes an average of 3,000 decisions each day.
Some decisions may be as simple as whether to make a plain or cinnamon raisin bagel for breakfast. Others are far more consequential, like buying a new car. It’s easy to tell which decisions are more important and impactful than others. Making decisions is naturally stressful; so, the more you eliminate the need to query over minor decisions in your life.
Did you know that the President of the United States only wears navy blue suits? Wavering over what color suit is best to wear for a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister or to appear in front of millions of Americans to give the annual State of the Union address is the last thing he needs to worry about. His time is better spent putting thought and effort into more important decisions, like how to implement a more affordable mode of health care and decrease the national budget deficit.
Likewise, the less you need to think about what to eat for lunch or what shoes you’ll feel most comfortable walking in, the more energy you will put into planning your next vacation or saving for your child’s college fund.
While it’s ideal to create a routine for yourself, it’s important to stick to the schedule you set for yourself. To begin, start with small, simple steps you can commit to, adding ease and balance to your lifestyle. Waking up at the same time each day is a great place to start. The earlier you wake up, the better, as the most successful people tend to take care of their must-do lists in the AM hours.
Don’t forget that while you are building healthy activities into your daily routine, you need to have time to relax and have fun. Do you enjoy being outside with nature? Reserve a block of time to go for a hike. How often do you spend quality time with your loved ones and good friends? Socializing with people who know you well and care about your well-being is just as important as exercise and nutrition in living a healthy lifestyle.
Today, text messaging sevices like Caterpilly are amazing tools to help build structure into your lifestyle. You can have reminders sent to your phone daily to make it easier to stick to the new routine you set for yourself. After all, it helps to have encouragement from a voice you trust when embarking on a new adventure. Start by helping yourself!