On the surface, this might sound contradictory to what I recently wrote about change. Often, when we think about routine, we think of monotony and things that stay the same.

But really, routines are simply habits or systems for getting things done. and to be most effective, the habits/systems/routines must change from time to time.

I like to change or tweak my routines, periodically. My recent post on task management is an example that. In order to keep growing, you must have routines, but you must also keep changing them.

I first learned about the importance of shaking things up from weight lifting. Weightlifters make their greatest gains (strength, endurance, muscle growth) when they first start out because the new routines are a shock to their bodies/muscles. However, muscles become resistant to the routine after a few short months. In order to keep growing, weightlifters must change up their routines every few months. It’s called the “confusion principle.”

Our routines have been thrown into a whirlwind in 2008 (a good whirlwind, but a whirlwind nonetheless), but we have still tried to have routines in our lives. Some of our daily, weekly, and monthly routines include …

  • Daily/weekly planning
  • Sermon prep (which I’m planning to write about in the future)
  • Regular day off (on Fridays, a change from Mondays which we’ve always done before!)
  • Tracking personal income and expenses (using spreadsheets) including a number of ministry and/or tax-related documents/spreadsheets.

But the newest routines we’ve developed this year have been related to Ethan — an evening routine that includes getting Ethan ready for bed, reading a Bible story, prayer, and taking turns each night giving him his milk in a sippy cup (formerly, formula in a bottle); whoever puts Ethan to bed, gets him dressed the next morning and prepares his breakfast, etc.

However, it’s some of our before-Ethan routines that we’re in the process of reestablishing and redeveloping. Having been a family of two for 14 years, our rhythms were fairly well set. Ethan has dramatically changed how we do life and we’re still finding our new rhythms. Adding a move to new ministries to the mix, needless to say we’re still discovering and settling into the new rhythms, including …

  • Morning TWG (“time with God”) — works best when we rise earlier than Ethan, who is an early riser himself!
  • We want to get back to practicing the weekly Wesley Fast (see my post on fasting from last year).
  • Reading — after a 4.5 year degree program, we have to redevelop our own reading habits — choosing our own reading material and reading it on our timetable. But we have plenty to choose from as can be seen in our previous post, Reading Pile; BTW, the pile has grown since that post!).
  • Exercise — before hitting crunch time with our dissertations at the beginning of the year, followed by becoming parents in February, we had an exercise routine that involved lifting weights and/or walking most days of the week; now, we try to walk as often as we can by taking Ethan in the stroller. But as we get settled into the new life, we hope to redevelop some better exercise habits.

What are your routines? Which are most helpful? Which are in need of a shakeup? 🙂

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