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Routines are boring, right?

Published: 2019-04-24 | Lastmod: 2019-09-12

Growing up, I thought people with routines were silly. Why would you script so much of your life away? Where is the fun if you always know what you’re gonna do? Who doesn’t love a little chaos, right?

It was not until college that I discovered the power and necessity of a routine. I was a decent student in that I virtually always went to class and participated, but my study habits were, well, poopoo. “Studying” consisted of cramming and coffee a few days before the exam. Something had to give. So, enter my first voluntary routine. I opened up Excel and created a row for each hour in the day. I literally planned all 24 hours: sleep, school, work, study, meals, workout, etc. I followed this for two semesters, getting 4.0s in both.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2017. I was feeling all around “meh” about my body, so I decided to do something about it. I’d always wanted to strength train, so after reading up on lifting (see the strength training section), I was hooked. Each week I did something along these lines:

  • Mon: squat, overhead press, deadlift
  • Wed: bench, chin up, dip
  • Fri: squat, overhead press, deadlift

Factor in better sleeping habits and eating at a caloric surplus, and in one year I gained 25 lbs of wanted weight. I was the strongest I’d ever been, and I felt great.

Before and after of my back

Left: Jan 2017, weighed 175 lbs. Right: Dec 2017, weighed 200 lbs.

Reading this back to myself. I sound kinda like an infomercial for routines. And that’s okay. Because I really do want to sell you on them. If you think about it, we all follow a routine. It’s just a matter of how much of that routine is intentional. I think Annie Dillard says it best:

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern.
— Annie Dillard