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5 min read

How To Get Better at Routines: A Guide For Austinites

Many of us start each new year with a series of fresh resolutions - one of the most popular being the start of building a healthy routine. Daily routine is a great way to build new habits, and while many of us try hard, more often than not we end up asking ourselves, "Why can't I stick to a routine?"

There are many reasons why you may struggle with a routine, and many ways to improve your discipline. Let’s explore them.

Benefits of Following Daily Routines

Why can't I stick to anything? Reasons Routines Fizzle Out

Strategies for Sticking to a Routine

Improve Discipline and Stick to a Routine with Therapy in Austin

Benefits of Following Daily Routines

Why do experts recommend following a daily schedule? Is it really all that important, or is it just a bit of a dream that we create to chase motivation in our lives? According to research, there are actually many psychological and physical benefits to be had when we stick to a routine.

Psychological (internal) Benefits

One of the most positive aspects of building habits through routine is effective stress management. Following a daily schedule can help us feel motivated and relaxed and decrease negative self talk.

Sticking to a routine can also lead to creating daily habits that are good for your health. By sticking to a sleep schedule every night, you will get better, more productive sleep. By scheduling your meals and grocery shopping, you may eat a more nutritious diet. Scheduling exercise can help you make it a new habit in your everyday life.

In a family setting, setting a schedule can also offer a positive model for your children and is an effective way to teach time management skills. Children thrive on routine just as much as adults, if not more so.

Life Performance (External) Benefits

Not only can building a routine help reinforce healthy new habits in your personal life, but it can also benefit your professional life. A good routine can help you be more productive in the long run. This doesn't mean overwork--in fact, too much work crammed in over a specific amount of time can be detrimental to your performance.

Experts find that routines in the workplace, with time set aside for a break, a specific project, time to eat, group work, and other variables, can be very helpful in boosting job performance as well as protecting well being.

Why can't I stick to a routine? Reasons Routines Fizzle Out

So it's a good thing to stick to a routine, granted. But it can be difficult to start a new routine. Most people find that they can easily start a routine, but they often find it challenging moving forward. Following through can be especially difficult for those of us with ADHD symptoms. Here are some common roadblocks to habit building success.

Your routine feels overwhelming.

All or nothing thinking can be the bane of creating daily routines. Often, when we miss one aspect of our routine (like taking a day off from exercise), we rationalize quitting by saying, "Well, I've already ruined it." Swinging back and forth between an all or nothing mentality can be overwhelming and exhausting.

Your routine bores you.

Day in and day out, doing the same thing takes a lot of focus. The human mind craves routine, but it also craves novel experiences. Often, when the shiny newness wears off of our new habits, we get tired and begin to lose focus.

You don't feel motivated to follow a routine.

Perhaps you've begun to follow a routine because you feel pressure from a friend or family member or because you've heard that it's good for you. If you aren't intrinsically motivated (motivated from within), it becomes far more difficult to stick to a routine.

Strategies for Sticking to a Routine

All of that being said, even if it can feel difficult at times, it is possible to stick to a routine in the long term. It just takes some planning, some positive feedback, and a bit of effort.

Plan For Your Habits (Right Down to the Timing)

Often, a plan fails because we fail to plan. It's all well and good to go gung-ho for habit change, but if we don't actually have an idea of how we're going to implement that habit, it can go quickly to the wayside.

So even if you are just starting with a tiny habit, know just how you're going to perform that one habit. If you plan to get up early in the morning to exercise, don't just say, "I'm getting up early in the morning to exercise." Create a plan. Lay out your clothes the night before. Set an alarm on your phone. Get to bed early, and be ready to go the next day. Plan to go with a friend, if possible.

Pick Habits That Reinforce Each Other

Using the above example of early rising and exercise, realize that some habits reinforce each other. When you do one habit, the other comes more easily. Another example of this would be taking a break from work to go outside for lunch.

You can get outside and create a real pause in your day. Going outside is a good habit; it can be stress relieving and offer a mental break. Making lunch a goal can help you get outside, while getting outside can motivate you to eat your lunch. Two habits feeding each other can lead to success.

Break Tasks Into Manageable Steps

If you are trying to do something bigger (perhaps stick to a routine?) then creating a series of smaller steps can help. Don't just dive in, but decide on a series of small habits you can build into larger routines. Most people are more inclined to stick to something if they can track a series of wins as they move toward their goal.

Distractions and interruptions throw off your routine

Your ability to stick to a routine can be derailed by distractions. Try to keep these to a minimum, if possible. Talk to your friends about your new resolutions, and try to get support. For instance, if you have a friend who likes to jump on you with spontaneous weekly outings, you can schedule something instead.

Utilize Productivity Apps to Reinforce Your Routine and Habits

Finally, consider using a productivity app to keep you on task. It can be far easier to stick to a routine when you have written and audio reminders of your plans. There are a number of both paid and free apps that can help you organize your life and build a routine.

Improve Discipline and Stick to a Routine with Therapy in Austin

If you find yourself asking, "Why can't I stick to a routine?", the most important thing to remember is that sticking to a routine is hard for everyone. Even the most dedicated athletes, those in the top echelons of sport, occasionally slip in their routines. 

Remember that you are far more capable than you might think. You can become more disciplined using the methods above. And if you’re still struggling, there is no shame at all in talking to a therapist in order to get more specific and detailed guidance on building discipline.

Therapy can help you build practical steps towards being more disciplined, but it can also help you address any underlying emotional issues that may be contributing to a lack of discipline. 

There will be setbacks, but keep your focus and try to work on your new healthy habits on a daily basis. The more times you repeat a habit, the more likely you are to stick to it long term. And if you want some assistance, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with a reputable therapy group, like Williamsburg Therapy Group.

Our Austin therapists are all doctoral-level, and maintain a high level of availability, so you can get the best therapy in Austin as soon as you need it. Give us a call, and our patient coordinator will help you find the right therapist for you.

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