Process Flows and Routines

Yesterday I talked about process flows and routines. We as humans love routine, but we aren’t the only ones. Our pets and animals love routine. Sometimes it is as simple as eat, sleep, poop.

But have you noticed that your dog who is used to you getting up at 6 am to let him outside to potty won’t leave you alone at 6 am on the weekends or vacation days? He has a routine. Master gets up at this time. Time to potty and eat. And then he leaves so I can sleep all day.

My cats are the same way. Only they don’t wake me up to potty. They are used to me getting up and going to work. Coming home, giving snuggles and sitting down in my recliner to watch tv and play with yarn that they aren’t allowed to touch. (Yes, I trained the cats not to play with yarn.) When I’m home on the weekends or on a day off, they don’t know what to do. And lately I have been changing my routine to work upstairs in the evenings and on the weekends. However, they are used to the house having noise (music/tv) when I’m home. So if it’s silent, they yell. After I turn on music, they leave me alone and go about their normal routine. Occasionally they will come and check out what I’m doing. And they definitely don’t like when I’m up and cleaning or organizing. Oh no! Mom needs to be sitting.

What I’m getting at is that routine and process flows are a basic animal instinct. We have to have it. Even the most spontaneous of people have their routines. Is it any wonder that when something goes against routine, we feel lost? A death in the family – our emotions are heightened. This isn’t usual. We aren’t at work. We are at a funeral.

An illness that keeps us at home. We feel worse instead of better. We feel instantly better when we go back to work and back to our routine. (I’m not advocating going to work when you’re sick – stay home!)

Starting a new routine is just as difficult as having your routine disrupted. So sometimes it helps if we map out the new routine and break it into chunks. For example (shameless plug), starting to use a tactile daily planner. One of the biggest excuses I hear is that “I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up with it.” You can train your brain and your body to keep up with a planner. Start small – spend 15 minutes every day looking at it and writing in appointments for the next day. 15 minutes after dinner. Or 15 minutes after the kids are in bed. Get into this habit. Next, spend 30 minutes every week going over next week’s schedule and planning meals. Spend an hour every month printing next month’s pages and writing in all known appointments and tasks.

Break it into pieces and don’t start on the next step until you firmly have the first one in place.

This is called forming a habit. It is easier to change your life in small pieces rather than huge chunks. This is how you keep a New Year’s resolution. This is how you change your life and adopt an organized lifestyle. It isn’t easy. I never claim it is. But it can be easier than you think. It still takes work.

Another shameless plug – I offer habit forming coaching. I can help you adopt an organized lifestyle – one month at a time. Baby steps.

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