Why a Boring Routine Creates an Extraordinary Life

Boring Routine Creates an Extraordinary Life

As a perpetual nomad and adventure seeker I have a love-hate relationship with routine. Mostly I hate it because I’m still learning to cope with boredom but when I settle into a routine it keeps me on an even keel emotionally and helps me keep on track with my dreams and goals.

I was so happy to send my three kids back to school after their recent holiday, even though it was only a two week break. Not because I want my children out of the house, although that’s a bonus when you work from home, but because I function best when I have a clear routine in place.

During the school holidays I struggle. If we stay at  home there’s no set agenda and getting my kids to agree on an activity and in action is like herding cats.

I like to get up early and get things done but the kids prefer to delay, delay, delay while they watch TV or play with their electronic devices. Meanwhile Rich likes to get up later, imbibe vast quantities of coffee and read the news at a leisurely pace before he even starts to think about how to spend the day. All of which leads to a lot of frustration on my part.

So I’ve mostly given up trying to organise family activities now. It seems too hard, people’s needs too diverse and the cost/reward ratio too out of whack.

I organise and plan events for myself though because, for me, life is better in the moment if I have something to look forward to. The three main things I like to have planned at all times are:

1. Social outings. I work from home and days can slip by without me seeing anyone apart from the family so I like to have weekly excursions to the movies, to meet a friend for tea or go to a business event in my calendar.

2. Short breaks such as a girl’s getaway weekend.

3. Longer trips. I’m going on a press trip to outback Queensland in September,  am hoping to visit Tasmania with the family over the Christmas holidays and will be going to England next year for my Mum‘s 80th birthday.

As long as I have both short and long term plans ahead of me a routine works well to keep me anchored in the present and living in line with my values of adventure, fitness, self-care, nature and learning.

My daily routine looks something like this:

5.30am – Get up and exercise from 6-7am. Monday: Beach jog, Tuesday: Weights and toning DVD, Wednesday: Killer steps, Thursday: Power beach walk, Friday: Bike, Saturday: Power walk. I try to be mindful when I exercise and think about and enjoy what I’m doing, not worry about how much needs to be done.

7-8am – Get home to kiss my boys before they leave for school then shower, breakfast and get Kiara ready for school. I eat the same thing for breakfast every day: a fruit smoothie made by blending banana, yoghurt, chia seeds, nuts, protein powder and milk. I usually include a big piece of papaya but sometimes mix it up with kiwi fruit, apple, passion fruit or even an orange.

8-9am – Get Kiara off to school and meditate for ten minutes by the beach on the way home. The meditation helps give me a clear division between family time and work. If it’s raining or Kiara takes the bus I meditate at home.

9am-12pm – Emails, copywriting work, helping and managing Mucho clients and blog writing are interspersed with laundry and the odd bit of cleaning. I find it hard to sit still for long periods of time.

12-1pm – Lunch and reading. I eat homemade soup, leftovers, eggs or cheese with corn thins while I read blogs. I find it hard to get back to work after lunch so reading time sometimes drags on if I don’t have too much work to do. In that case I get comfy on the sofa and enjoy it while trying not to think about what I should be doing.

If Rich isn’t home I may set the timer for 10 or 20 minutes and meditate again or catch 40 winks. I should do that daily because it really peps me up for the rest of the day.

1-3pm – More work. Although this isn’t my most productive time the afternoons are good for getting jobs finished off (because I also thrive on deadlines!),  replying to emails or doing interviews.

3-6pm – Cooking tea and driving the kids around. I usually go for a 45 minutes walk on the beach too, sometimes with the kids, a neighbor or Rich.

6pm – We eat early (sometimes 5.30pm) so after supper there’s plenty of time for kids’ showers, homework and preparation for the next day.

6.30-9pm – Reading to my daughter in bed then I read or very occasionally watch TV with the boys. This would be a great time to do extra writing but I get interrupted constantly and achieve little so I’ve learnt it’s best not to bother trying. That makes my working day short but means I read more and minimize the temptation of time-wasting energy-draining Internet surfing. I try to break the routine once a week with an evening outing and look forward to that.

9pm – Bedtime! The boys go to bed at 9pm. I stay up to kiss them and tuck them in (even the 16 year old requests that service!) then tuck myself in straight afterwards. Rich goes to bed later than me and gets up later.

9.30pm – I read in bed until I can read no more. Sometimes I may be asleep soon after nine and other times I stay up reading until 10pm. I dream of eight hours sleep but I often wake at 2, 3 or 4pm and can’t get back to sleep for hours.

But no matter how little sleep I still get up for my early morning exercise. Sticking to the routine has helped me become an early bird and an exerciser. It blows my mind because in days gone by (prekids) I could easily sleep in until lunchtime and I still think of myself as a couch potato even though I now exercise daily.

On the weekend I catch up on sleep with a Sunday lie in (until 8 or 9am!) and sometimes I have a nap. I love naps.

I feel ashamed sharing my daily routine because it seems so boring but that’s what my life is like and, as boring as it may be, it works. The routine of daily early rising, exercise, meditation and writing has helped me get fitter, become more self-aware and write more than ever before. Having a strong routine in place is also a highly effective way to keep the stress, depression and anxiety at bay.

Having a tight routine allows me to think less about mundane things like what to cook for supper (I plan a weekly menu for that) and more about creative writing,  travel plans and adventure.

So while I look forward to breaks from the routine and to holidays and adventure I love getting back into my routine afterwards too. Because, although it seems counter-intuitive, having a good daily routine makes space for you to lead an unconventional life and live your dreams.

Do you have a set daily routine? 

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  1. Johanna July 28, 2014 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    I am useless at routine, and always set myself little lists which never get done because other things tend to crop up that are ‘more important’! I think your routine sounds wonderful and you have a balanced mix of work, exercise, family life and leisure built in there. Like you, sometimes I don’t get out to see people (this happens too much) but I forget to eat too, and survive on my first two cups of coffee until I think about food around lunchtime. I need to buy a juicer and be more prepared. Loved this post … it was like chatting to you over a coffee … er, smoothie ;)

    • Annabel Candy July 28, 2014 at 5:53 pm - Reply

      Hi Johanna,

      Oh I have plenty of lists of things that don’t get done! But the regular routine things do. How do you forget to eat? I hang out for meals :) Would love to meet you for coffee too – although I’d be drinking tea…

  2. Linda ~ Journey Jottings July 29, 2014 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    While I have no official routine – I think everyone hangs their lives on certain comfort ceremonies scattered throughout the day.

    But I think your so called ‘boring’ day has the huge advantage that by pinning your days onto a set routine schedule means you’re soooo productive!
    Everything must get done in its allocated compartmentalised slot, which means at the end of your day you have a mass of completed outcomes – You’ve exercised, meditated, completed work…

    While I may feel I have the luxury of no official routine my day often gets merged into a messy mass with nothing specific to show for it – whereas yours may feel as though its boring it is in fact blooming, as you say, into an extraordinary life :)

    • Jackie Davidson July 29, 2014 at 4:19 pm - Reply

      Hi Annabel
      I hear you say boring??? Not boring at all!!! I used to work in healthcare and believe you me, that is boring, and physically and mentally exhausting!!! You sound like you are doing exactly what you love on a day to day basis. At the moment, I am taking a long break from my day job, but will be focusing on my 3 year old son, myself and my husband.

      I take huge pleasure in small things these days. I do love to travel also, so have lots of little trips planned, and a big trip to Barbados in a few weeks which I am really excited about!

      I guess being part of your own family, brings on so many responsibilities that, at times, we need a break from. I’m sure what you are writing about is resonating with so many mothers out there, who are looking to keep fulfilled in life while raising a family.

      I think it is human instinct to always be looking ahead, which, if you tend to verge on the neurotic like me, can raise a host of unpleasant feelings, like not being able to delay gratification. I have always struggled with that one.

      What I am looking ahead to just now, her in the U.K, is the fact that winter is merely a few months away. I struggle with SAD and therefore need to plan a trip to the sun in January, probably to Australia. We used to live in Cairns. Lots of sunshine! When you mentioned meditating on the beach, I had a powerful longing to be back on your shores again! Wonderful!

      I wish I had lived more in the moment when I was in Oz! I miss it so much now! Are you still in Noosa? We have lots of friends in the Sunshine Coast. A possible place for us to live if we were ever to return.

      Thanks for your weekly update and take care!


    • Annabel Candy July 29, 2014 at 9:14 pm - Reply

      Hi Linda,

      Oh I’m not as productive as I should be unless I have client deadlines to meet. But at least some things get done! I think your life’s extraordinary too :)

  3. Annabel Candy July 29, 2014 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    Hi Jackie,

    Great to hear from you and I love that you take “huge pleasure in small things”. That’s brilliant and so important for daily happiness.

    Yes I’m in Noosa and couldn’t cope with British winters either – and the summers can be just as bad. Thank heavens you have Barbados to look forward to. I’d be very excited about that too! If you haven’t seen them already check out Barbados travel tips from a local here: https://www.getinthehotspot.com/barbados-things-to-see-and-do/ Enjoy! I know you will :)

  4. Frenchie July 30, 2014 at 6:34 am - Reply

    I think you were in my head.. lol – I live for routine but HATE the boredom it brings… I need routine or I get to frazzled I must admit. However I can see that you have a routine and are disciplined which is such great thing… I too have to have things to look forward to i.e. the next family holiday or the next project… Getting fit after a prolonged injury and shedding the kilos is my next ‘plan’ boring though! and getting inspired to blog more of course.

  5. Seana July 30, 2014 at 8:51 pm - Reply

    I did enjoy this look through your day, Annabel. Am in awe of the early morning exercise daily. I’ve been getting up early but it’s to drive kids to school early far too often. I miss being with adults too and try to plan a catchup on Fridays – Fridays are my days off when Paul is away… and the weekends are the hardest work of the week.

    When the big boys were little I used to work A LOT at night, and now I rarely do, just the odd bit of reading like this and wee tiny jobs. But it takes mental acuity and general on-the-ballness to get those big boys to go to bed.

    This life of routines is not really for me, but it proves essential for family life to be harmonious (as much as that’s possible with teenagers.) And trips to look forward to are totally essential.

    • Annabel Candy July 31, 2014 at 4:50 pm - Reply

      Hi Seana,

      Lol, just goes to show even other people’s boring routines can be interesting. I think you make a great point. When you’ve got kids routines become essential :) Along with something to look forward to of course!

  6. Cate August 5, 2014 at 6:43 am - Reply

    Hi Annabel… I have two routines: the one in my head that is calm and organised and sees me breezing through a productive day; and reality, where I rush and worry and never seem to get tthrough my to do list (and it is always the ‘me’ stuff that never seems to happen). Ah, well. :-)
    Cate x

    • Annabel Candy August 5, 2014 at 10:23 am - Reply

      Hi Cate,

      Oh I think we all get off track sometimes! I’m trying to stay focused but it gets harder with more and more distractions competing for out time.

  7. lynne August 18, 2014 at 11:20 am - Reply

    HI… great post… daily routine is just fine for as long as we love what we are doing then it is perfectly okay and i guess we are more productive that way…
    Thanks for sharing. Great article. :)

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