Although it may seem contradictory, having a routine with fixed times for doing things actually makes us freer to be who we were created to be. The word "routine" is usually associated with monotony, a mindless repetition that everyone wants to get rid of. However, routine brings order to our day and, according to neuroscientists, our brain is conditioned to always seek order because it allows it to have predictability to perform tasks. This brings tranquility, generates serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for the feeling of well-being.
The Problem with Disorder
When we are in a disorganized environment, our brain has two options: either we waste time to organize first in order to later accomplish our task, for example, studying or cooking, or we will need to work much harder to be able to concentrate to accomplish this same task in the middle of the mess.
This also happens with our schedule. If we don't have schedules to fulfill our duties, our brain is always in a situation of alertness, of not knowing what will happen next, causing much more tiredness, forgetfulness and frustration. We can easily verify this reality in the lives of children: those who live in a well-structured routine, with schedules for everything: waking up, playing, eating, bathing, studying, sleeping, are much calmer and more peaceful children than those who don't have this fixed routine.
Freedom for great achievements
Order is all about beauty, so when we live in an orderly way, our mind is more relaxed and freer to be more creative, to find solutions to problems, and especially to realize our great goals in life.
The first step toward this freedom is to spend a little time to think and to establish a routine. One suggestion is to make a schedule with 30-minute periods and write down what you have to do in that time. Start with the time to get up and keep filling it in until the time to go to bed. Of course, tasks that require more time to be completed will take up more than one space in this agenda.
You can start by stipulating a routine from Monday to Friday, leaving the weekends free at first. But over time you will see that it is also important to establish some order for the weekend, even if it is not as strict as for the week.
Then, it is important to concentrate to accomplish the given task in the stipulated time. As St. Josemaria Escriva said, "do what you must and be where you do it". In other words, there is no point in having a stipulated time to fill out a report if in that time I am thinking about what I need to buy at the supermarket. Or in the time I have stipulated to play with my children, to think about the meeting I will have the next day. When it's time to work, I work. When it's time to go shopping, organize the list and do the shopping. And so on.
For those who have a hard time establishing and sticking to a routine, a tip is to start by choosing a period of the day to put into practice. For example, first organize the period from the time you wake up until lunchtime. Practice this routine for a while and when you are more confident, organize the afternoon period as well. And finally, the evening period.
A life well lived
It doesn't take much time practicing order in routine to reap the rewards of tranquility and sense of freedom. Time is one of the greatest gifts received from God and using it well, faithfully doing our duty, that which we have established to do at that particular moment, gives us a wonderful feeling of personal fulfillment.
"Do your duty and it will fulfill you," says Bishop Rafael Cifuentes. The happiest people are those who know they are doing their duty well, and because of this they are stronger and can better resist the unforeseen events that life presents them with.
Our time is finite. There will come a moment when it will end and we will have to give an account of our life to our Creator, so we need to take good care of what we do with it. And since we are an integrated organism, we will realize that by fulfilling our routine well, other aspects of our life will also improve, we will find it easier to deal with our defects and limitations, and little by little we will become more virtuous people and reach the end of our life with the peace of mind of a job well done.