This is not an actual routine per se, but rather using routine as a high level means of managing your day. The premise is based on our attention or focus capabilities – we only have so much and spreading it too thinly impacts more important activities at the cost of looking after less interesting ones. For example – wearing a uniform means no choice is required for the day’s clothing. No attention need be placed on: what goes with this, should I wear those shoes with this belt? Hmm does that blue shirt make my eyes sparkle or would a red one be better because it’s a power colour? <- All of this needs focus and energy to determine. I love a work uniform. I know exactly what to wear and while I’m getting dressed my mind can divert to more important matters.
A routine extends on this principle. If you get up at 5am, meditate for half an hour, write a blog post for another half an hour, spend time with the kids until 7, then shower and out the door to work by 7:30am then you’ve spent zero minutes deciding what to do, and instead maximised your time spent on things you *do* want to get done. For weekend fun, the shower and out the door at 7:30am components might be pushed back or moved or deleted. The weekend potentially requires less decision effort in general though so this isn’t an issue.
I use routine activities and plans so that the things I really want to do can be prioritised and the activities that have to be completed, but aren’t fun, still get done. For example, the 1st of the month I update my net worth spreadsheet, check the water tanks on the farm and pump water if required, and also do a walk around check on all our cars – checking tyre pressure, wiper blades, water levels, oil etc. I have a routine where all this is completed in around about an hour or so and it happens on the 1st of each month. Then when that’s done I can get down to the fun stuff!
Let’s be honest, all the boring stuff has to get done. In Neal Stephenson’s book Cryptonomicon they call it “making license plates”. I have referred to it in this way for some time too. Work of the monotonous, yet important nature can be easily forgotten – unless its part of a routine activity. It then requires less attention (to remember to do it) and allows for regular completion of these tasks. No one wants to be diverted from enjoyable, engaging activities to do this stuff, but when it’s part of a routine, then it can be combined with mindfulness and the tasks become easier. So far from a routine being a trap, I find it to be a component part of the freedom of life.