To Routine Or Not To Routine: Balancing Structure & Flexibility

Some of us are routine lovers, while others take a more go-with-the-flow to life. Your preference likely depends on who you are and what you’re responsible for (If you have kids, there is a good chance you’ve developed a routine. Without them, life is pure chaos!). Routines can be present in your personal or work life and can range from short (e.g., a sequence of events you perform in the morning) to how you structure your entire day. You may have a work routine that you’ve followed for many years or may be new to finding a regimen that works for you.

There’s no question that routines and behaviour changes are difficult to establish. A study performed at University College London tracked the habits of 96 people over 12 weeks. They found it took the average person 66 days to have a new behaviour become automatic. Is spending 66 days to form a new habit and develop a daily routine worth the effort? 

In this article, we share the benefits of having a daily routine as well as the surprising drawbacks. A flexible routine may be the answer to achieving success and good mental health.

What are the benefits of having a daily routine?

It’s no news that having a routine can be highly beneficial in many areas of life. The field of psychology has long been uncovering the benefits of routines.

Research has found that daily routines can:

  1. Increase productivity: By establishing a routine, you are more likely to stay focused and minimize distractions. As a result, those with daily routines, including in their personal and work lives, are more productive
  2. Better time management: Routines allow you to minimize the time spent thinking about what to do next. Having a clear understanding of what tasks you need to do, when you need to do them, and where you need to do them, can help you optimize your time management.
  3. Reduce stress: Research has shown that daily routines positively impact mental health by providing structure and predictability. This can result in lower stress levels.
  4. Improved sleep: Establishing a daily routine can improve both the quality and quantity of sleep. This is because routines help regulate your body’s internal clock, and they can also promote a sense of relaxation. 
  5. Promote better health and wellness: By developing a daily schedule, you’ll be better able to slot in time for healthy activities. For example, you can find time to exercise, prepare healthy meals, and engage in self-care activities. 

The benefits of routines may increase the opportunities you have to achieve personal and work-related success. Regardless of the type of routine, establishing consistency in your daily habits can help you lead a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.

Are there any downsides to having a daily routine?

Routines are beneficial in that they provide structure and predictability. However, there may be downsides to creating a rigid daily routine.

  1. Monotony can lead to boredom: Doing the same thing every day can become tedious and uninspiring. Rigid routines can reduce motivation leading to decreased productivity.
  2. Routine can stifle creativity: By following a rigid daily routine, you may miss out on new opportunities or experiences that could lead to personal or professional growth. 
  3. Inflexibility can negatively impact mental health: Strict routines make adapting to changes or unexpected events difficult. If something disrupts your routine, you may experience feelings of stress and anxiety, which can negatively impact your mental and physical health.
  4. Stagnation and impairments to personal growth: When you follow the same routine for a long time, it can lead to stagnation and a lack of personal growth. Routines can be helpful, but they should also be flexible enough to allow for changes and growth.
  5. Social isolation: You may become socially isolated if you don’t schedule human interaction into your routine. This can be especially true for those who work from home or have a limited social circle.

While routine can be highly beneficial, it’s important to be aware of the potential downsides. It is important to be flexible, open to new experiences, and willing to adapt to changes in order to avoid the negative effects of rigid daily routines. By balancing structure and flexibility, you can enjoy the benefits of routine while still maintaining a sense of spontaneity and creativity in your life.

How do you balance structure and flexibility in routine?

Here are some tips to help you create a balanced daily routine:

  1. Identify your priorities: Before establishing a routine, it’s important to identify your life priorities. Determine what’s most important to you, both personally and professionally, and then build your routine around those priorities. This will help you maintain focus and avoid becoming overwhelmed by unnecessary tasks. Find a work-life balance that works for you.
  2. Get clear on your goals: Setting specific personal and professional goals can help you stay motivated and on track. Establish realistic goals, and then create a routine that supports those goals. This will help you stay focused on your priorities while allowing you the flexibility to adjust your routine as needed.
  3. Be prepared to be flexible: While routines can be helpful, it’s important to be flexible when unexpected events arise. Avoid becoming too rigid with your routine and allow for some flexibility to adjust as needed. This will help reduce stress and anxiety when changes occur.
  4. Incorporate variety: Incorporating variety into your routine can help prevent boredom, keep you motivated, and ensure your creativity remains high. Try new activities or mix up your routine to keep things interesting.
  5. Schedule breaks: It’s important to take breaks and allow yourself time to relax and recharge. This can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Building breaks into your routine helps to ensure you are taking care of yourself both physically and mentally.
  6. Evaluate your routine regularly: Regularly evaluate your daily routine to see if it is still serving you. If it’s not, make adjustments that feel good to you. Finding a balance between structure and flexibility helps to ensure your routine aligns with your priorities and goals.

In conclusion, balancing structure and flexibility requires a thoughtful approach. By identifying your priorities, setting goals, being flexible, incorporating variety, taking breaks, and evaluating regularly, you can establish a routine that supports your personal and professional growth while leaving room for flexibility to adjust as needed.

Director of Corporate Development

Sam Rahbar

Sam is a seasoned training professional at Jarvis Consulting Group. He is passionate about coaching and talent development as well as emerging technologies.


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Jarvis is a global technology advisory and talent solutions firm. We partner with some of the world's most impactful companies to shape the future of tomorrow. Our focus on community engagement, diversity and values-based culture has enabled us to become one of Canada's fastest-growing companies.

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