How Routine Keeps You From Going Insane

Even at the DNA level of human existence, structure and order come built-in. The cells that make up our bodies follow a definite pattern in renewal and death. Days and nights, the rising and setting of the sun, show a clear and reliable pattern for us to count on.

It’s no suprise, then, when our days go better when they’re scheduled. Structured. Ordered. When we have a semi-reliable pattern to build our lives around.

Wise Clan

I find this to be more true with each child we have. With each day, we’re finding Evie seems to crave structure. Her tiny, one-week-old life needs reliability that we, as her parents, are charged to provide.

Here’s what I’ve learned about structure in the days since Evie was born:

  • Everybody needs structure. Not only does my little Evie need order, so does her big brother Finn. And Mama Wise. And Yours truly. It’s not limited to infants, it’s everyone. We naturally order our environment to reduce the amount of choices we have to make. This is good and it keeps us from going insane (literally). Some of us need more structure than others, but we all crave confines.
  • People automatically build structure. Everyone. I mentioned this earlier, but we all automatically make choices on how to bet order our lives. There is no one alive who does not do this. Some of us are good at it, some are poor. “Free spirits” need structure for no other reason than to go outside of it. If you have a pulse, you have structure. A pattern for living.
  • People who embrace structure are happier. Routine can get a bad rap. I read an article recently that said something like 90-95% of our daily decisions are made automatically without thinking. Some may see this negatively. I embrace it. The article noted that people who embrace routine are scientifically happier than those that don’t. There is freedom in knowing what’s coming a little bit further down the road. This makes people, including me, much happier.
  • Structure makes us more productive. When we eliminate as much deliberation as possible, it frees us up to execute. When we execute more, we’re more productive. If I know that I need to go the gym over my lunch hour, I have made a conscious decision that doesn’t need to be made again. When lunch rolls around, I know exactly what to do. This automation works in all areas of our lives.
  • Structure is how the world works. From our clocks, to our traffic patterns, to our eating schedules, structure is how the world goes ’round. For a long time (long time) I fought anything structured thinking I was “bucking the system.” Not only was this foolish, it was counterproductive. As I said earlier, order is built into the code of our existence. To fight it is futile.

Our little Evie literally needs every moment of her life to be structured in some fashion. We’re happy to provide it to her because we know it’s giving her a sense of safety and security. Kerry and I have both seen firsthand the devastation that comes when children have no structure in their lives. We’re not about to let that happen to our kids.

Over to you: Do you ever find yourself craving structure? Order? What was that like? How did you go about establishing it?
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7 comments
Paul Jolicoeur
Paul Jolicoeur

Great list! A rut, is when you are stuck in routine and want out. A rut drains creativity and boxes you in. A routine, is a place of discipline that created an environment for creativity!

Nicole G
Nicole G

Excellent post and totally true. In my line of work (law enforcement) I see so many people who were never taught how to structure their lives and in turn, never taughter their children. It really adds to the chaos of what goes on in their lives. Such a simple concept that unfortunately doesn't occur to everyone.

heady
heady

So agree with you and I could work on this area! I will be sharing this post with my wife. I think we both could benefit. GO WIN!!!

Benjer McVeigh
Benjer McVeigh

I find structure is as important to me as it is to our little girls. And while some might see structure as limiting, I try to think of it as scaffolding. It gives us a framework in which to live and work. Great post!

John Weirick
John Weirick

Great thoughts on structure. It's in the vein of arranging life for maximizing productivity. I explored some thoughts on it as well, through the lens of "creating space" [a la Justin Ahrens' book, "Life Kerning"]. http://bit.ly/xmzZLG

Adam Hann
Adam Hann

Amen to this post. We recently got a puppy and it totally changed our routines. Some good some bad. But, we've had to find some new structures (for us to be sane) and for our puppy to learn how to become a good dog. Thanks for sharing and congrats again on Evie!

Stacy Frazer
Stacy Frazer

I agree, Justin. I literally have every half hour of Dax's day scheduled...and we are a very happy, productive, (and might I add)fun family. It just makes a day run more smoothly. Drew and I were just talking about last week when we had several days where we weren't in our usual schedule and Dax was a total maniac. Lack of structure creates a naughtiness in my buddy in a way that I don't see it on days where we are on schedule. Good thoughts, Justin. Hope you are enjoying life with your sweet princess and that Finn in enjoying his new sister. Stacy