by Niall Doherty

One of the things I was most looking forward to here in Kathmandu was getting back into a bit of a routine.

I know, I know: Routine sounds so boring and unadventurous. And while I agree with Steve Pavlina that excessive routine is the enemy of growth1, the right amount of it can be hugely beneficial. I find it’s much easier to immerse myself in something and really make strides if I make it part of my routine.

Unfortunately, routine tends to fall by the wayside while you’re busy traveling through twelve countries in seven months :-/

One of the few routines I’ve kept up even while on the road has been my two-part morning ritual: Ten minutes of touch typing practice2, followed by free writing 1,000 words in sixteen minutes. I haven’t missed a day of this for well over a month now.

The key for me in sticking to this routine has been along the lines of what my buddy Momekh recently wrote about in an article entitled, One Tip that Saves Me Thousands. Essentially, it all comes down to delaying gratification. Momekh forced himself to complete a half marathon before buying that nice sports watch he’d been wanting. In my case, I don’t allow myself to eat breakfast until after I’ve completed my typing practice and pumped out 1,000 words.

Sure, it’s kinda silly. I’m going to eat breakfast eventually anyway, whether I perform my morning ritual or not. But by framing it as a challenge/reward kind of deal, I find I’m way more likely to follow through and do the work.3

Now that I’m settled in Kathmandu for a few months (and don’t have to devote so much time and energy to travel and all the associated arrangements), I’m looking to add even more routine to my life, and applying the delayed gratification effect to ensure I reach some goals I’ve set for myself. One of them is a fitness goal, which I’ll write about more next week. Another brings back memories of Amsterdam 😉

Routine and you

As mentioned, routine isn’t always good. I believe the trick is to recognize which routines serve you and which don’t. Like if you want to be more social, sticking to your routine of staying in each evening to watch soap operas isn’t going to help.

If you find that you’re stuck in a rut and bored out of your brain by the giant hamster wheel your life has become, the best thing may be to abandon routine completely, to go and immerse yourself in lots of different experiences. You can always come back to routine later, whenever you feel the urge.

For those of you who can’t seem to stick to a routine, try creating an incentive for yourself, a reward you’ll receive once you’ve done the work. The incentive can be as simple as breakfast. Make yourself earn it.

Show 3 footnotes

  1. From Personal Development for Smart People: “Excessive routine is the enemy of intelligence. Exposing yourself to the same types of input over and over again won’t help you grow.”
  2. I use this free software to practice touch typing
  3. A side-benefit of forcing myself to do something productive before breakfast is that I start the day as I mean to go on: getting shit done and working towards my goals. Remember: if you don’t do something from the get-go, you’re unlikely to do it at all.