Friday, September 7, 2012

Routines vs. Lists

I hate routines. I know they make life easier and more organized, but I can't even force myself to do them.

Most highly organized people I know follow routines in their daily lives. Many organizational systems (Fly Lady for example) focus on helping you establish routines. I've tried numerous times, but I just can't stick to them.

Routines make me feel trapped instead of free. They make me feel like I'm stuck in Groundhog Day. And anyway, my life and schedule are unpredictable so routines tend to fall apart, which makes me feel guilty for not following my set routines.

So I finally let go of the guilt of not following routines. And I realized, my reliance on lists is because of my resistance to routines.

I rely on lists like crazy. My daily to-do list, weekly task list, monthly goals list. Home improvements list. Lists of next-action tasks for projects.  Household cleaning lists. This is how I know what do to, and when. 

On those days when I'm really busy, I just write out my to-do list for the day and work my way through it. When I feel overwhelmed, I just look at my list and remind myself I'm on-task because I'm following my list.

Of course I do some routines: when getting ready in the morning I follow the same general routine of shower-makeup-breakfast-teeth. But for most things I work better with lists. My kids also function better with lists.  I posted lists on our door of things they need to have in their backpack for school (lunchbox, water bottle, homework folder, jacket) and what they need to do after school (unpack lunchbox, do homework, etc.). By giving them their own checklist I don't have to constantly remind them of what they need. They can take the responsibility of making sure they have everything they need.

Do you use routines? Or do you rely on lists? Or, a combination of both?


13 comments:

  1. My old diaries were filled with carefully planned, colour-coded schedules for how I would spend my day, accounting for every hour, all in the quest for control, productivity, and simplicity. And in most instances, not one of those days had a successful 'tick' next to the pre-determined task time.
    I have since learned that I absolutely hate routines; as a shift worker now the very idea is ridiculous. I've also let go of my obsession with control, and realised that strict routines make life anything but simple...they make it do-or-die and dull, and I was always disappointed in myself for not conformiing to my unrealistic 'ideal'.

    Instead I now write to-do lists...these are much less intimidating, and I do what I want when I want, with the one condition: I put my freedom to good use and do what I want to do (what is on the list). I've therefore also taken the care to look at what I really want to do...that way if it ends up on the list, then I know it is working towards some goal that I honestly want to achieve.

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  2. I suck at both. I should do both-but don't-and it's getting out of hand. I think it has been primarily because I keep shifting planners-trying to find the next "best" set up. I wrote in my Text Agenda not too long ago "Maybe you need to just PICK something and STICK WITH IT" After talking to folks on Twitter and seeing Patty's post about her FC inserts--I'm thinking maybe I need to go back to FC for the structured "to do" section on the left--then STICK WITH IT!

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    1. I hear you. Patty's post is very seductive. I want that book right now. But then the minute I had a frustration with it not being able to handle even one little aspect of my life, I'd go back to something else. Like Laurie, I lose things that are hidden behind tabs. Found an old Palm Pilot (don't laugh) in a box in my shed & have resurrected it quite happily. That will last about a month.

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    2. SO not laughing! I had a couple of those and I LOVED them!! :) Veerrryyyy seductive :) I was telling Laurie earlier that my planner "fail" seems to happen about every 3 months-that seems to be the longest I can stick w/ something. :o(

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  3. The answer for me has been to think of routines as projects or prolonged rituals that have ever-shifting components. Like the movement project: I know I'll never do any practice consistently, so roughly every season it changes (DVD workouts, then walking, then yoga & progressive relaxation, then back to DVD workouts) So while I would absolutely fall into chaos without my lists, I also really do like routine & get excited about developing new ones that I know only need to last a few weeks.

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  4. I'm currently going through the GTD process to try to get all my crap together. On my projects list I have written that I want to set up some sort of schedule that covers housework, creative stuff, exercise etc, but I'll see how it goes as I'm just not that disciplined at actually getting the things done... it's so much more fun just planning to get things done than it is to actually do them (although obviously when the things are done that gives a feeling of achievement which clearly can't be got just from the planning...). I really must try harder :o)

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    1. I can write out routines and list with the best of you - but do I follow through? Heck no! I can't just pick a planner either. I am also trying GTD and have my tickler file set up - it lasted about 2 months! I am feeling really hopeless and helpless right now. But I will persevere with this. I have the next 2 quarters from planner pads coming and will see how that works out.

      I am finding that size does make a difference. I am switching to the "Junior" size instead of letter size as the letter size is just to big to carry around. I have also fallen in love with The Women's Success Planner in that I like the little tracking circles on the bottom. But I find it difficult to use to actually plan anything.

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  5. I'm rubbish at routines, I can't tell you how many times i've tried FlyLady, list's on the other hand I check constantly, I tick off when done so for me Lists is the way to go!!!

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    1. I like the Flylady's routines for morning and bedtime but that is it.

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  6. I can relate. I spend more time organizing and planning than actually doing. I don't know if I have ADD, very bad issues with procrastination and avoidance, laziness or a combination of all the above. I am wondering if the organizing and planning is really more fun than the follow through. Maybe there's a bit (or alot) of whimsy and creativity in all of us. We have good intentions to get things done and organizing all those to do's is just more fun than actually doing them. Maybe we should just all embrace this! I also think I am a bit of a 'scanner'. I get bored easily and flit from one project/hobby/planner to another. Sometimes this is frustrating not getting things done or seeing the fruits of your labors. Other times, I'm so into the next thing that I don't really care if I finished the to do list or the project or the hobby. In those cases I think it was 'the process' more than the 'finished product' that was important to me. Of course, when it comes to paying bills, cleaning house, and other daily life requirements, it doesn't pay to let those go for too long or the consequences are terrible! HaHa. I can't stand a messy, cluttered space so I keep up with that stuff pretty well without a list. Maybe its just not human nature for all of us to be so 'task oriented'. But we've been guilted into it by all the pressure in society to set and achieve goals. Then we feel like we've fallen short if we're not running around setting and achieving goals or finishing our to dos. Maybe its just okay to play with our Filofaxes and get things done as we get them done. But of course I know someone will be thinking 'but I spent all that money on these binders and they are supposed to make me more productive'. But if buying them and setting them up and changing them around and figuring out new uses for them is giving you some kind of creative outlet then embrace it. Just another point of view (at least for today; tomorrow I may be making a big long to do list!)!!!

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  7. If you want to set-up repeatable checklists and routines you can use this application:

    http://www.Gtdagenda.com

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote and Google Calendar, and also comes with mobile version, and Android and iPhone apps.

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    1. Oh I don't use apps. I don't even have a smartphone. It's all paper all the time for me.

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  8. I have routines at work but lists for personal life.

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