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Recently my friend and coach, Dave Kraft wrote an article on routines. It is my belief that his insights here are some of the best I have ever read on the subject. Below is an excerpt from his post.

I am a person of established routines.

Some have come to view established routines as being in a rut and moving toward a place where creativity and innovation are sent to die. The opposite is actually true, and the right routines enhance our ability to operate at a higher level and accomplish more than we ever would have without routines.

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

 I have come to the conclusion that any person who has accomplished anything worthwhile in life has established routines that help them get there. Routines should be life giving and timesaving, not life-draining and time wasting. Routines set us up so that great things can be accomplished. Without established routines of work, rest and play, the pull of less important things will drag us in nonproductive directions.

Some of the most accomplished athletes, CEOs, and musicians are people of incredible routines. 

Throughout his career, swimmer Michael Phelps followed the same routine. He didn’t run through his routine occasionally--he did it every day. Phelps explained that it’s his self-imposed routine that he’s gone through his whole life.  Phelps is one example of the many Olympic athletes who arguably practice with specific routines in mind that they seldom change. It’s much more than just a training regimen. It speaks to the value and the genius of the right routines, which free their minds and bodies to focus on the most important things at a very high level of excellence. 

My wife, Susan, was watching a recent Charlie Rose interview with Jake Gyllenhaal in which Jake said: “Freedom is on the other side of discipline.” True freedom is discovered as a result of specific routines and disciplines that you establish for yourself. Establishing the right routines free you up from making the same decisions over and over which allows you to channel your precious energy toward other essential activities. 

Writer Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says: “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.”

Here are some areas of life where specific routines can be of immense help.  

Sleep routines. How you prepare for sleep, choose to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time.

Eating routines. Sticking with certain things you will regularly eat and things you will not eat.  

Reading, studying and writing routines so that you continue to be a life-long learner.

Exercise routines so you stay in good condition and are a wise steward of the body you have been given.

Work routines that enable you to get quickly to work and stay on mission by consistently focusing on what’s important now, rather than what’s urgent now.

Set routines on how and when you respond to emails, texts and phone calls.

I am going to venture a guess that most of the people you and I admire, as people of great accomplishments, are people who practice certain set routines in their lives and have done so for many years. There is immense power in habits, routines and set rhythms. 

Like I said, Dave really hit the nail on the head.

Here are some examples from some of the most successful people in the world as well as routines I have set in my own life.

Gary Whitehill, the founder of Entrepreneur Week, reads from 9 to 10:30 p.m., with two cups of peppermint tea.

Bill Gates, co-found of Microsoft, has said he reads for an hour every night, even when he gets home late.

My track team has a set routine every practice, every week, for their warm-up. They know what to expect.

My class begins class the same way every day. They answer a question on the board that begins their thinking and collaboration on the learning objective for the day.

My mornings at work start with me making a pot of coffee which I drink two cups each morning during my first two periods of teaching.

I have a nighttime routine with my children where we wrestle (with the boys, my little girl likes to talk and cuddle), have a dance party, take a bath, brush our teeth, read, sing, pray, and then go to sleep.

How are you doing in this regard? What routines have you established and which new ones will you establish in light of this post?