"Routine is simply a physical representation of preparation and intent." – Anonymous
One of the greatest struggles is chasing the routines we desire, while at the same time avoiding those which are unwanted. It gives our mind a sense of organization. Sometimes we are not in the place in our lives to strive for the "perfect" routine, but usually, with a constant schedule, it may seem like a good idea to develop one.
Over time, I have learned a few things about the morning/evening routine. I personally have found one to be better than the other, and have found the most useful tips to successfully achieving them:
They can, but do not need to, coexist:
It is often assumed that having a morning routine means that an evening one is required. This could not be further from the truth. It simply depends on your schedule and where your "free time" resides. If you have work or classes from noon to 8 PM, then a morning routine may be better than scrambling in the evening.
I have found having an evening, planning routine to be the most valuable. It leads to developing a morning one, and the free time before bed is usually consistent. This is also a great time to reflect on the past and present, keeping your thoughts organized. Plans can change in the morning, making an evening routine the best to start with.
Physical planning is stronger than mental planning:
Have you ever tried to remember certain tasks and realized later that you forgot to do them? Well, the same will most likely happen with mental, routine planning. A good example of this is preparing for the next day, which is my main evening routine. Instead of writing out what I will be doing the next day in my calendar, I lay out things that I will be using.
For the gym, I lay out all my clothes and water bottle so I am ready to go when I wake up. For certain reading I need to do, I set out my book in a place I am bound to be in the mornings. For writing, I set my typewriter (shocking I know) out and put my devices away so I avoid the impulse of using them. These physical reminders are strong and keep your mind focused on future tasks, instead of relying on your reminders in your phone to do the work for you.
Patience is a prerequisite:
Like any new skill or aspect in life, routines take time to develop. I would say a couple weeks to a month is what is needed, and the great part is you can start any time. If patience is not your skill set, then it might time to consider improving your patience rather than your routine skills. Unfortunately, patience does not develop alongside the routine, making it hard to be satisfied with the process if it does not provide immediate results.
Start small, it may be all you need:
In the end, it is important to consider you may not "need" to have elaborate routines. We go through different lifestyles and schedules, so there is a chance it won't be needed until a few years from now. In the meantime, it is good to focus on other goals that are reasonably attainable in the present. With time, your routine will build up and become what you have always dreamed.
If you would like to learn more about routines, here is a good video on the topic: