Overhauling My Daily Routine

Picture credit: Flickr/Daniel Flower

Last Friday I made an impromptu decision to abstain from diet Pepsi for 30 days. Naturally, I had to get  my “last supper” Pepsi Max late that evening.

I wanted to give up my diet Pepsi habit because it had become a daily habit.

Every day, regardless of weather, at some point I would get up, go for a walk and buy myself a diet Pepsi (and usually some chocolate). The good thing about it was that I was very religious about my daily walks. The bad thing is that I would also like to a) have healthy teeth and b) save some money (even soda is expensive in Finland).

And it’s just infuriating that I’m slave to some habit. Have you ever tried to get rid of some innocuous habit of yours? Then you know how powerless you can feel over your life!

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Seriously, I’ve been in the process of overhauling my daily routine for a couple of months. Several years ago when I was doing research at home on my personal grant (and suffered from depression), I fell into this routine of getting up late and aimlessly wandering through my day and getting some hasty work done in the evening.

The problem is that those days are long gone but my daily routine clings to me like a bad stink.

At some point last spring I stumbled upon on the idea of “bookending” your days. The idea is that you deliberately plan a morning and evening routine – basically a set of recurring habits that repeat every morning and every night.

My new morning routine goes something like this. I wake up, set up my mobile timer and meditate/breath slowly for ten minutes (“my willpower routine”). Then I get up, floss and brush my teeth, shower, put my clothes on, eat breakfast and plan my day. Then I set up my mobile again for ten minutes and do my joint mobility routine (actually it consists of some joint mobility routines, stretches, strength exercises for my neck etc – depending on which parts of my body are in need of some self-care.)

After that I’m ready to get to work. Here is one crucial change I made in my morning routine – I don’t start my day by going online and opening my email. First I have to write for an hour or so, then I can go check my email.

The point of the morning and evening bookends is that they consist of good habits that are going to be good for you in a long run, even though they won’t transform your life in the spot.

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My morning bookend routine has worked really well for me, with some exceptions. When I had a week-long rough patch in June, my new routine broke apart and I had to use lots of time, energy and willpower to get back on track after that.

I know that is going to happen again when I’m going to get really upset about something, and I’d like to find out how I could prevent those breakdowns in the first place and b) find a faster way to get back on my feet. (Any suggestions?)

Changing my daily routines is part of my grand plan of improving the quality of my life.

Changing my daily routine has already improved the quality of my life, but I still have lots of work to do.  I need to figure out what to do about the things I can’t change. How can I learn to accept them rather than get very upset every time I encounter the unchangeable things in my life?

Use the comment section below to confess what bad habits/routines run your life! 🙂

Comments

  1. Social media is my biggest bad habit, at the moment, although I have gotten a lot better than I was. I think it’s true that those of us who have addictive personalities will often trade one addiction for another.

    As for accepting the things you can’t change, I think the key is to ask yourself how it’s working for you to get upset…does it help? Of course not…the key is to be aware of your reactions, not to try and eliminate them altogether. After all, we’re human. 🙂

    • Satu says:

      Well, it looks like I need to work on being mindful in my life in general, not just about my eating. Not really a surprise there. 🙂

  2. Deb says:

    Satu, I love the sound of your routines. I’ve never thought of anything like that and find the concept interesting.

    I like Karen’s comment about being aware of your reactions but accepting that – from time to time – you will experience a result you don’t want.

    As for my bad habits… well, I have many. Like you, I don’t cope well with stress and turn to bad habits in those circumstances.

    Deb

  3. Satu says:

    Hi Deb!

    Yes, stress is the trigger for many kinds of bad habits. 🙂

    I’m loving my new morning routine, espcially the part about not going online before some things get done, like my writing. It’s much easier for me concentrate on the important stuff. When I get online, the babble in my head and all kinds of distractions increase exponenetially.

  4. Lori says:

    I think if you just keep up your routine, it gets easier and easier each time to get back into it when you fall off. Just be consistent. Make little notes are a talisman that you can see and touch when you need to anchor yourself.

    I had to give up a protein bar habit. I would have 1 or sometimes 2 in a day! I fit them into my calories, but they really are only a substitute for real food and should just be a treat or when I need a quick fix that I don’t want to just have chocolate for. I got off that habit after a long time. My husband still eats a lot of them, though 😀

  5. Satu says:

    That’s a good observation, Lori! That’s the way I actually became a regular exerciser. Even if I have an exercie break, I’m not very afraid of not getting back to my routine because I know I will.

    Almost all bad habits start innocentrly. I’m not against drinking Pepsi Max occasionally, but why does it have to be every day? I also started eating chocolate regularly to make peace with “treats” and it has now become an everyday habit… (Well, I actually kicked that habit too when I started the 30-day Diet Pepsi abstinence).

  6. Jane says:

    I am serious need of some motivation! I have had a couple of those breakdowns recently and really trying to get back on track. Gaaaahhhhh I do like the bookending idea though! Bad habits – snacking too much when I get home from work. And not walking on my lunch! It’s been so hot, I really have lost my motivation to work out at lunch time. I know I can do it though! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your habits! And for the motiviation!

    • Satu says:

      I don’t know if it’s any consolation, but for a couple of days I’ve had to go through the motions with my morning routine. 🙂 I meditated 6 minutes instead of 10 and dragged myself through my mobility exercises…

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