Are you Lazy? Get a Routine

I’m pretty useless after the dance party.

After dinner, the table mostly put away, and our daughter’s toys mostly… not put away (yet), the CD player goes on, and the dance party begins.

Matt Heaton steps the tiny masses through basic behavioural norms like stopping and going. Then there’s a Wombat Dance. (We have a 2-year-old, so this all makes sense.) Before Matt, but still in popular rotation, we had Karen K and the Jitterbugs, wherein you, too, may want to be a Jitterbug, or have Pancakes for Dinner.

At some parentally appointed point, the music stops.

At some later painfully negotiated point, toys are put away.

At some even later peacefully navigated point, our daughter is in bed.

At this point, I’m pretty useless.

There’s 1-2 hours left in regulation time before the daily game is over, and I’m not really in the mood for anything creative or productive. Personal growth-related activities? Pfft, grrrl, please.

So what’s a citizen to do?

Good question. Here’s my answer, pulled from an email I recently sent to my buddy Jim, wherein we expressed how much we want to be a Jitterbug caught-up.

Particularly with activities around a release on our end, AND hiring, my plate these past 3-ish weeks have been pretty at capacity, so I’m trying to set up a personal system to use my energy levels through the day to guide what work I do. In the morning, I wake up 90 minutes before getting ready for work to now meditate, do SOME kind of exercise, do a fulfilling creative activity (writing a blog post, or taking steps towards a podcast I want to do), and set a daily action list, while I have the will power, and try my darnedest to NOT look at email, or dive into LinkedIn feed (I don’t do Facebook actively, so this has become my replacement), or YouTube, or work Slack. When I have less will power, like after putting my daughter to bed, I want to set aside activities like really time-boxed email clearing & gmail Stars whittling & physical desk clearing.

So THAT’s my latest… trying to not make work an encompassing part of my active focus all day, nor where my head sits when quiet. Having a kid helps, but since getting this job, I see it as a neat marker for resetting how I do daily life.

In the mornings, I’m fresh, so I engage in things that are fulfilling.

In the evenings, I’m drained, so I engage in things that… don’t require a lot of brain-power, then motivate myself a li’l by time-boxing those things.

The blog post title says it: I am lazy at the end of my day, so I rely on a routine.

The power of a routine and habits keeps coming up for me, or at least in my YouTube feed. Y’look at commonalities among successful people, and there’s an element of daily habits, some that’re built into a routine.

Soon after my daughter was born, there was definitely a lot of whining on my part over how I wasn’t doing all the things I had been doing, particularly around personal growth. Now that she’s been sleeping through the night for a while, I’ve been looking at both ends of my day to see what I can do to fold in exercise, creative fulfillment, and other activities from what feels like a time past.

Having a routine connotes sustainability, as in, you can actually pull off these activities day after day, so as I experiment with what I can routinely accomplish (heh), and analyzing how this is essentially a continuous flow of habits, I realize a routine is a weird opposite to goal-setting, which is more discrete in terms of time.

Routines & goal-setting are definitely not mutually exclusive (one of the videos I’ve linked to above imparts the importance of setting goals within your daily routine); however, I currently subscribe to the shift in focus. Want to get a goal? Set, execute, and iterate on a routine.

This aligns with what Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book Big Magic, or maybe it was her Magic Lessons podcast (both address the resistance that creative folks encounter when wanting to do their art), which I’ll paraphrase as:

We are responsible for the effort, not the outcome, so don’t fret.

There’s a li’l stoicism baked into that, since here we are acknowledging what we can & cannot control.

Thus, setting & executing & iterating on a routine is the effort you can control.

But what if you’re lazy?