Routines: is routine the basis of all productivity?

Lucy had trouble being consistent in taking her medication. She was aware of the importance of that medication, in fact, it had been her request to evaluate and consider whether she would benefit from such medication. Taking the medication is simple: take it every day, at the beginning of the day. Still, 2 or 3 times a week she forgot to take my medication. 

It is curious that she forgot it, since it is a medication with immediate effect that within half an hour of ingestion begins to have notable effects on attention and working memory. 

When an action has noticeable effects almost immediately, it is usually more "memorable." 

To find a solution, we did a chain analysis of her daily routine, and we found a constant that applies to people who tend to forget important tasks: Lucy does not have a routine at the beginning of the day. Each day of Lucy begins in a different way. 

"My days start as I get up, and almost always depend on the worry of the day before," says Lucy.

First conclusion: from the behavioral point of view that a person allows their day to be organized based on intuition, impulses or desire, generates a level of variability that makes it practically impossible to have consistency in any activity of work, academic or personal life.

Read the article on "Strategies not to procrastinate" 

Thomas is super productive. When we asked what he was doing on Wednesday at 10:00 am, sabe answer, because every Wednesday at that time is doing the same category of activity. 

El central problem with true productivity is that it is not "reactive" but "predictive." In other words, to have constancy and continuity, the key is to arrive at the moment having decided well in advance what I am going to do.  

To increase productivity, you have to put together routines. Routines are sequences of repeated steps that are used to accomplish a task. 

There are 2 types of routines:

  • Context based.
  • Time based. 

The routines can be applied in specific contexts, for example, in this case I am sitting in front of my notebook, in my office, with the mobile muted out of my visual field, with the Onenote app, writing without reference material. This context based routine, applies when i write a blog article. 

This type of routines have 3 sets of rules (which must be very specific). 

  • What is to be done. 
  • What should NOT be done. 
  • The order in which those steps should be followed.   

Time based routines are activated at specific times, which can be a time in the day "after lunch" or a temporary key "at 10:00 pm". In Lucy's case, we could practice that after getting out of bed, she goes straight to the bathroom, brushes her teeth and immediately takes the medication. We could add that you should NOT look at the cell phone at any time (as it can interfere with the sequence). 

Time based routines can be: 

  •  Daily.
  • Weekly.
  • Monthly. 
  • Annual.

For instance: every “June" ask for an appointment with the gynecologist to do the breast check-up. Many women with ADHD forget or do not get their annual gynecological check-up.  

Generating routines has advantages but also huge disadvantages. Establish routines shapes our identity. If Lucy intends to comply with the ritual of the beginning of the day, she will have to avoid night-outs during the week or start reading at night, instead of watching movies. Some friends will probably begin to describe her as a "boring or overly structured" person and she feels the loss of the possibility of doing these activities. 

In conclusion: productivity is shaped by context. 

Being consistent depends more on routines than on "will" or "effort." 

Any task that is established in advance through a routine, has a much better chance of being accomplished than a task that is attempted in the moment based on "feelings". 

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