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Sticking to Routine

Creating and following a habitual routine, even when motivation gets lost

Routine
Photography by Piron Guillaume

A few months ago, I was introduced to the concept of minimalism while browsing through YouTube. The ideology absolutely fascinated me, and I was driven to declutter and change my lifestyle for a month or so afterwards. I was getting up early, going to charity shops and throwing my things way, going to the gym a lot more—I had a new perspective on the things I once saw as boring or menial. I felt on top of things—confident. I had considered myself to be a changed man.

After such a productive month, however, I found myself in the same slump as before. Yes, I had learned the principles of minimalism, but sticking to those principles was a different matter. Willpower and routine are key energies needed to maintain such a lifestyle, and after a month of trying, I was exhausted. As a composer, I found myself writing similar passages of music again—nothing was original or exciting anymore. Getting up early became difficult again and going to the gym became boring once more. ‘Nobody will notice if I don’t go,’ I told myself. I had returned to the unproductive and humdrum person I once was.

So how do I get back to the productive and minimal lifestyle I briefly had? And, more importantly, how do I stick to it?

I realized that adopting a routine is easy, but tailoring it to who you truly are takes time. Lifestyle and productivity content creators can have a habit of coming across as extremely organized. I had been watching all of these YouTube videos from channels focusing on minimalism, and felt that I had to keep up with their lifestyle. From my personal experience, this doesn’t represent the everyday individual. It was no wonder why I ended up returning to that banal person I once was—I had completely burned myself out.

I took the routine that I had drawn up for myself, and I began editing it, tailoring it to what I could realistically stick to every day. And, slowly but surely, I began to see a gradual change in my lifestyle. I started going to the gym twice a week and began spending time composing for at least one hour per day, ensuring I didn’t tire out. Over time, I adjusted and changed this routine, and am still doing this today. I now go to the gym four times a week, and spend time composing for three hours per day, but this change happened very gradually.

Patience, I have found, is key.

“I was taught they way of progress was neither swift nor easy.”

—Marie Curie

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