For a very long time, I’ve thought that I am not a creature of habit. I claim to dislike routine and repetitive tasks and prefer to keep my life in a manageable state of chaos. I’ve now realised, however, that I don’t not have routine. I have negative routine.
I don’t normally make my bed in the morning. I almost always get out of bed late enough that I have to rush to have a chance of getting to work on time. I usually don’t wash my dirty dishes immediately. I avoid doing laundry until I am literally going to run out of clean clothes. I exercise only very occasionally.
I’ve believed for most of my life that the above paragraph describes a resistance to routine. I don’t like routine. I don’t want it. But I realised this morning that I do all of those things with great consistency. They are my routine.
My morning routine looks a bit like this:
- Snooze alarm (a few times)
- Notice the time, panic because I’ll be late for work and spring into action
- Shower (a little longer than I can afford to given that I’ve woken up late)
- Decide I don’t have enough time to shave
- Search through messy cupboard for clothes to wear
- Get dressed
- Brush teeth
- Use lack of time as an excuse to not make my bed or tidy up in any way
- Pack up the things I need to take to work
- Get in the car and head to work, knowing with certainty that I will be late
Looking at that list, it’s no wonder that I find every workday stressful from the start. It takes me a good few hours to really settle into a day of work, so while I do get things done in the morning, I’m usually just trying desperately to keep up rather than actually being on top of my work. Only in the afternoon, when I’ve finally settled down at my desk, do I really make significant progress in my day.
And then I go home, tired from the day that started off in a state of self-induced stress. When I get home, it’s to the mess I created by avoiding cleaning and tidying up.
This is my routine. It’s not a resistance to routine as I’ve thought for so long, but a well-practised, finely-tuned exercise in compromising every day of my own life. I realise now that I choose it, and that only I can change it.