Project-Focused Routine

Routine can seem like a dirty word on this blog. Rarely is it associated with excitement or opportunity and may be seen as ‘the mundane’. In our daily lives we’re all trying to minimise the mundane. But how much do I succeed? After a recent revelation, not all too well…

My friend once pointed out to me “You’ve got such a routine…that’s sweet.” I felt mildly patronised by the comment and after a bit of sulking, I wondered if he had a point. I thought back on the days leading up to the comment and tried to excuse the fact I’d cleaned the bathroom like I did weekly (because no one else in the house would do it weekly), I’d bought the food shop and planned at least a few meals for the week (because I wanted to save money and have always told myself that the more I plan the less I’ll spend on eating out when hunger strikes)… After enough excuse-making and a brief state of denial, I had to ask myself truthfully, “How do I not have a routine?”My usual week is similar but also consists of hanging out with friends, reading books, playing piano, playing tennis and reading about personal finance and investing. The very nature of saying ‘my usual week’ says it all. He was right – I do have a routine.

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“…the real value comes from what we produce…” 

I decided to look closer at my routine to work out whether I had slipped into the mundane and where it might need adjusting. The questions I came up with are now the questions that help me work out whether something I’m doing is really a good use of my time outside of work.
  • Am I doing a task that will bring me closer to my goal or am I just ‘keeping busy’?
  • Am I producing something of value?

My emphasis here is on consumption – be it consuming my time with a task such as hoovering the flat (when it could be done on a bi-weekly basis) or whether I’m reading my third book on property instead of finishing building my property spread sheet calculator which may provide the essential tool as I research property. It’s too easy to consume. We work, go home and watch television or read a book or news article, we watch a film at the cinema, listen to our flatmates’ woes for the day and feel like we’ve been productive. It’s all well to increase your knowledge through information consumption and I do think a healthy amount of time spent with friends is key to your overall well-being but the real value comes from what we produce as a result of this consumption. Did you attend a few great sessions of Toastmasters that your friend recommended? Sign up for a table topic. Read an inspiring book recently? Write a review (even if no one ever sees it). We take in a lot daily but what’s the use of learning more when you’re not producing more?

By looking at my ‘routine’ regularly I hope that it will soon turn into a project- and outcome-focused routine that brings me closer to my goals every week…heck every day.