Restarting routines


Restarting routines


You’re cranking stuff out at work.  Your completing tasks at home.  Your calendar keeps you on track and your lists are serving you well.  Routines are working for you.  Then, all of a change happens.  Summer or Christmas holidays come along. There’s a new employee at work you have to train. Your job responsibilities shift.  Your routine does not exist anymore.   Here’s ways to begin restarting routines.


Assess your tools

What’s going on with your planner and your lists?  Have you lost your favorite mini notebook that held your lists? Did you have weekly planning time or fill in your calendar this week?  Look at the tools you use and be sure you are using them wisely.  If you have let these lapse, start here with restarting routines that served you well.


Improve your tools

Maybe it’s time to make a small improvement to your tools.  The Japanese concept of kaizen, making small, gradual improvements, could help you with productivity.  The small improvement to your tools could be learning technology. At times when we have a change it’s about learning and practice to master a new skill.  It takes time to learn new technology to be agile.  A small change could also be hooking a new habit to an existing well established habit.  That habit might be making a list each night for the next day right before you brush your teeth.  Just a tweak can help you with restarting your routines.


Automate your tools

I don’t like to reinvent the wheel. I like to “automate” when I can to save my thinking for the bigger picture.  I use tools like checklists to automate. I have a checklist for activities that are new to me.  It’s easy and simple to complete a task this way.  There’s a checklist for things I do infrequently just so I don’t forget a step in a project.  My packing checklist helps me remember all the little stuff that make a big difference when I am away (like all my electronic chargers). Another way I automate is my routines is smartphone reminders.  An alert helps me remember the next step.  The reminders are recurring so you keep on top of your intentions.


Take the opportunity when you are stuck and not feeling back in the groove to assess, improve and automate.  While it’s uncomfortable, it’s also a time to make necessary changes that might not have happened. That when the break makes for greater productivity.


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6 replies
  1. Seana Turner
    Seana Turner says:

    I’m totally with you on “automate.” I actually have a whole folder of packing lists (beach, skiing, family weekend, etc.) I’ve since emailed them to my girls as they have gone off on their own. When I first started this, I added things in that I forgot for a couple of years, so now they are actually pretty decent lists– so much better than having to rethink it every time!

  2. Liana George
    Liana George says:

    Thank you for this post Ellen! When I’m off my routine I get overwhelmed and off balance so-to-speak. I like the tips you offer to help restart and stay calm. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    Hi @Liana – I know that without routine, I fall into total chaos. It’s hard getting these back and running. I think of a steam engine that needs coal. Once up and running, we are chugging along again. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Linda Samuels
    Linda Samuels says:

    You’re brought such an important idea to light here…that when our routines or situations change, we might also need to change the tools we use to help us. I love reliable systems for getting things done, remembering appointments, and handling what’s important. And if the system works, that’s great. But there have been times when the demands or volume of things have changed and I’ve needed to be flexible about reviewing the tools and how I use them. So while I don’t like to constantly change the system, I do advocate (like you have) changing as needed.

  5. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    Thanks @Linda! It is good to reassess our tools from time to time to be sure what we are using is a good fit. Thanks for sharing!

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