Creating and maintaining routines can be crucial for stability and productivity. Non-traditional methods to establish and sustain routines involve approaches that might be less structured but highly effective. Variety builds interest and sustains the habit as a result. Building routines in a non-traditional way involves creating structures and processes that are innovative, flexible, and tailored to individual needs.
Use Environmental Cues
Create cues in your environment to trigger specific actions. For instance, leaving your workout clothes by the bed can prompt you to exercise in the morning. Placing a book on your pillow can signal that it’s time to read before sleep. Pick one habit you want to continue or begin and place a visual cue at the spot where this routine occurs.
Incorporate Variety Within Structure
While routines provide structure, they don’t have to be as repetitive and boring as you might think. Incorporate variety by rotating tasks or adding an element of choice within the routine. This prevents boredom and keeps things fresh while maintaining consistency. You can use this strategy with healthy eating, by eating an apple one day and a pear the next. Both have positive health values and give you options for healthy eating. Slight variations prompt you to keep the structure with interest.
Gamification of Systems
Utilize elements of games or challenges to structure routines. Introduce points, rewards, or levels within the system to motivate and engage users. This can make tasks more enjoyable and incentivize productivity. Create a point system and assign points for achieving certain milestones. For instance, you might award yourself points for each mile or kilometer completed, with bonus points for consistency (e.g., extra points for walking every day in a week). You define the levels and rewards linked to the action. Your rewards might look like this.
- Level 1 (50 points): Reward yourself with a relaxing bath or your favorite treat.
- Level 2 (100 points): Purchase a new workout outfit or equipment.
- Level 3 (200 points): Plan a fun outing or a weekend adventure.
Use a tracking system such as an app, a physical chart, or a spreadsheet to log and see your points and progression. Make it visible and easily accessible so you can easily log data and see progress.
Visual Mind Mapping or Flowcharts
Use visual tools like mind maps or flowcharts to design systems. Visual representations make routines that are complex processes easier to understand and follow. This non-linear and creative way helps you plan, initiate, and follow through on routines. Examples of these charts are simple charts or drawings that represent glasses of water to drink throughout the day. For instance, draw eight glasses, each representing an 8 oz serving. Hang this chart on your refrigerator or place it in a visible area where you spend most of your time. Or choose a habit tracker app to help you stay on track. Your smartwatch will also help you with reminders and visuals.
Popularized by James Clear, the two-minute rule suggests starting habits with a small, two-minute version of the behavior. This approach makes the habit easy to start, which can lead to a higher probability of completing it. It’s based on the idea that getting started is often the biggest hurdle. Following the Two-Minute Rule, you would start with a much smaller and manageable version of this habit. Instead of aiming to read for an hour before bed, you commit to just “reading one page of a book.” By reducing the habit to a tiny version that can be completed within two minutes (reading one page), you’re more likely to get started. The idea is that once you start and get over that initial hump, you’re more likely to continue reading beyond that single page. Often, the hardest part is beginning, and the Two-Minute Rule helps overcome that initial resistance.
Continuous Improvement and Iteration
Continuous improvement builds on the success you are feeling in sustaining a routine. You are continuously iterating and refining your systems and habits. Adopt a mindset that focuses on small, incremental improvements rather than aiming for major changes all at once. You incrementally add to your routine with a small addition to that task. An example of this is after a few weeks of consistently walking for 15 minutes, you notice it’s becoming easier. To continually improve, you decide to add five more minutes to your walk. Now, you’re walking for 20 minutes daily.
Choosing a non-traditional strategy for routines helps you build momentum and enthusiasm for routines that have become less interesting. Each of these routine building strategies will help you create systems that work for you.