Pros and cons of routine in daily life
Routines can be beneficial. There is a long list of titles and articles on Helium which extol the virtues, physical and emotional, of doing things on a regular basis. People have written about exercise regimes, walking, swimming, drinking water, diet
However, routines can easily become boring for the simple reason that they are, by definition, repetitive. So while there is a definite good side to routines, is there also a dark side? Should we be careful not to have too many routines in our life?
There is no doubt that for children, routines are beneficial in virtually all respects. The order of a child's day helps him grow in an atmosphere conducive to the development of a balanced individual. Regularity can develop good habits at this stage of life, and most would agree that it would be difficult to raise well-balanced, emotionally sound young people in an atmosphere of total chaos.
Routines also help us to get things done, inasmuch as they reduce the likelihood of forgetfulness. This is why schools have timetables and why people do things on certain days or at certain times of a day. Animals are often the same. Cows know when it is time to come in to be milked; your cat knows when you are due home from work; birds know when to migrate; salmon know when to return to their rivers to spawn. Much of this is down to natural cycles, sometimes beyond our human comprehension, but if other species benefit from routine, perhaps they are a GOOD THING for us too.
The dark side of routines arises from their repetitive nature. Life can be deadly boring if we do the same thing at the same time on every day. Do we have no imagination?
According to Myers Briggs psychological tests, based on Jungian theory, some people can be described as J and others as P. Anyone who is J needs a strictly ordered life in order to be comfortable. Anyone who is P is happier with disorder.
There is a scale, ranging from extreme J to extreme P, and the well rounded individual has something of both J and P in their makeup. We could refer to off-the-scale Js – people like the character in the film 'Accidental Tourist' who has all her food stored in alphabetical order in the kitchen; or the person who color coordinates all her clothing in labelled drawers.
For a person like this, routine is not just necessary, it is essential to their well-being, and an atmosphere of chaos can cause them to feel physically ill.
On the other hand, someone who is P is always late, can never find anything, hates routine and can be considered unreliable, certainly by a J.
The ideal human condition contains something of both J and P. We all need a certain amount of routine in our lives. If we didn't, nothing would ever get done, we would always miss the bus, we would never be able to find the tv remote and our cell phone would never get recharged. But, hey, some people are happy like that.
What we also need is a certain level of refreshing spontaneity in our lives. Don't always clean on the same day, vary it a bit. Try having a desk on which the keyboard, all pencils, pens, paper weights and other things are not exactly parallel. Can you manage that? Experiment with doing things on the spur of the moment and discover how good it can make you feel. If you sense that you are near to off-the-scale J or P, try moderating your habits in the opposite direction to see if it improves your quality of life.
Routines can be very useful and extremely helpful, not just for the J, but for all of us. But spontaneity allows us to really live 'on the wing' as the saying goes, without being totally P. Balance and moderation in all things is the key. Do those things routinely that you really feel you need to, but give yourself a change as often as possible. A change is always as good as a rest.