The discipline of a few core routines as part of the working day can help to combat stress, allowing the brain to function in an active rather than alert (fight or flight) mode. The creators of the mindfulness app Headspace recommend establishing personal routines for:
- Thinking time – to process problems or worries weighing on you, instead of letting them build up. For those who struggle with anxiety, a simple practice like daily journaling can be helpful.
- Low level tasks, such as paying bills, inbox management – tasks which can be accomplished more or less on autopilot, but which can become a source of stress if allowed to build up.
We tend to think about routines at work, in ways that are about tasks or more transaction in nature. However routines in our wider lives can help our wellbeing and set the tone for the benefit of routines in work time too.
Routines can also help stimulate creativity, as evidenced through the work of innovators from Thomas Edison to JK Rowling. Here is how the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami describes his routine for creativity:
“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4 a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run or swim (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9 p.m. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.”
An important benefit of adopting routines is in improving performance and productivity. Think of the things you do every day – such as having a shower – with practice, we continually find quicker better ways to accomplish even the most perfunctory tasks.
You might find routines that help you, will be at odds with other team members. Try talking together about what helps. Find some common routines of habits that you can agree on as a team. Notice and respect the differences amongst you.