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Establish Routines – Follow a Schedule

Nothing sounds more boring than having to live within a rigid schedule that I “have to” adhere to no matter what. Rigid schedules are not only boring, but can create constant pressure that increases stress levels. We feel we are at the mercy of everyone and everything and we can’t wait for the weekend, for that moment of “bliss”, when we can kick back, sleep in and just do whatever we feel like doing.

But the illusion of having such free time, is soon crushed by the reality that clothes need to be washed, the house cleaned, and all the other boring, unenjoyable and sometimes downright unpleasant tasks that require attention whether we like it or not still needs to be done. Is there a way out?

Developing daily routines doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible and it doesn’t mean you can’t have some “moments of bliss”. It just provides the structure to make time work for you. Dependable routines, as boring as it may seem, actually allow you to schedule in fun and down times.

Remember – it is your time. The kid in us resists self-regulation because it reminds us of a time when our parents were in control. But you are the adult who is now in charge of your time. You are the CEO. What do you want to do with it? What do you want to accomplish? This requires thinking long term and not just short term.

How we think about time is a key to managing it. If time is controlled by others, then we will feel we have no choices – we “must”, “have to”, or “ought to” do certain things. While it might seem like an insignificant shift in thinking, when we consider it is “our” time and we are choosing how to regulate it, it is freeing.

Words such as “have to” or “must” hold within them a feeling of helplessness. We have no choice. If we replace those words with I choose, we are in the driver’s seat. We choose to go to work; we choose to have a regular schedule from which to operate, we choose to delegate, we choose to teach our kids responsibility; we choose to regulate TV, multi-media and computer game times, etc.

Responsibility means we have the ability to respond. Life demands we work to support ourselves. But life also gives us the opportunity to make goals and work to accomplish them. While choosing to self-regulate may seem like drudgery or hard work, when habits that establish structure are put in place, those habits actually free up our time, allowing us to become more efficient. We are able to schedule more satisfying projects along with the jobs that might not be as satisfying.

In Thursday’s blog I will give you some specific ways you can make time work for you.

Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC

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