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Routine is so important but are you tied to your routine?

Routine plays a critical part in everyone’s daily lives, from getting up, brushing our teeth, having breakfast, lunch, dinner -you’ll be surprised! Our bodies tell us from our routine that we are hungry and when we need sleep. It’s actually a very powerful coping strategy in getting or dragging you through your day and in trying to reach your goals. If you have a pet, such as a dog, believe me, they let you know when it’s time for their food and ‘walkies’; they even work to routine!

Routine has the following benefits:

  • It gets you through the day!

  • To achieve your goals and tasks.

  • It provides you with some structure.

  • It prevents procrastination.

  • It provides a sense of order.

  • You know what you (and the team) should be doing.

  • It builds good habits.

  • It increases productivity and prevents procrastination.

Like most organisations, they work to a routine, for example, those working 24/7 with shifts. Coming from the military this is even more so, it thrives on routine as it maintains battle rhythm throughout the day and night. On the battlefield, it would be ‘standing to’ in the mornings and being prepared to wait for the enemy to attack and the same in the evenings. The likelihood of the enemy attacking is unlikely (stemming back through military history), but it’s there to ensure we are up, ready for the day/night and transitioning from day to night routine(vice-versa). Even if you have nothing on, it will ensure your up, you eat, you administrate yourself (and your team) and prepare you for the day ahead.

Routine cannot be underestimated. When I work in the polar regions trying to reach our goals such as the Poles. As you can see from the sketch from my book above to striking camp, to setting off, ski routine (and rotating through like a caterpillar), taking regular timed breaks, to getting into camp and setting up your tent-routine is crucial to reaching your goal. On the ice, it can then be broken down further such as tent routine.

Sketch taken from my forthcoming book- Plan D (copyright Paul Vicary 2021)

Tent routine provides you with a good example on ice to highlight the importance of routine. The sketch pictures the importance of routine within the tent. I like to travel in threes on my expeditions, having its benefits, but in a tent, it gets a bit cramped, particularly if you’re in it for 3 months! So, in this tent, we have 3 people, who all have job roles. Two people at the kitchen end have job roles of ‘melt man’, where he would get the stove on and cook, melting the ice, and he would then hand it to the ‘Chef’ who would also be melting and preparing the water ready to pour into our high-calorie food and drinks (more on this in a further blog I think). The ‘VIP man’ is a very lucky man as he doesn’t have to do anything, he has his own entrance and space, with his own headspace and room for his kit and is able to administer himself. He is treated like a real VIP! His food is prepared, and he is handed his food and drink when it’s ready. So, the routine would be from following the arrows, you would rotate daily in each role where every 3 days you would look forward to being a VIP! This is so powerful in something to look forward to as well as having a slick routine in the tent.

In the polar regions, having a smooth transition from one stage to another is so important as a team in reaching your goal and likewise, if you are solo. You cannot afford to mess around in below zero temperatures. You’re like a well-oiled train chugging via its stations to get to its destination.

However, some of you may be disagreeing with what I’m saying and say you don’t use routine- what’s the point and you may like living in chaos or disarray, which does have its place; but you will still have a routine. I also agree that we should be mindful that routine doesn’t take over and become monotonous and the same. You can become chained to your routine. The old adage springs to mind from Einstein quoting ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If you continue doing the same, then you will likely get the same results, but this works in getting to the poles and maybe in your work life. You should, be aware and may need to have some variety. This could mean changing your routine and your habits, sometimes this can feel very uncomfortable but on reflection, it will be worth the effort. These could be small changes to significant changes. We often see this at weekends, or if we go away on holiday, disrupting our routine and having some variety this can include your eating routine to your exercise routine. Try adding some variety and something to look forward to.

So, what am I saying is routine is important and needed to get things done, but be conscious when you are getting tied to your routine? If you cannot change your routine, try, and create some variety.

If you like what you hear, please share, and follow. You can also hear more in my forthcoming book, blogs and during my talks.

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