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?