Optimize Your Routine With These Stoic Principles
How to create a weekly balanced schedule
There is no such thing as a fixed routine. The harder we try to stick to a rigid plan all week the harder it is to actually do it. We are not made to have everything planned, while we need structure we also need spontaneity to thrive.
The skeleton of a routine should have the most important things that you want to do daily / every two days / weekly and so on. For instance, the base of my routine is:
- gym ( 1.30–2h/day, 5 to 6 days/week)
- job (8h /day, 5 days/week)
- write (1–2h/day, 6–7 days/week)
- social — hang out (2–3h/day, 2–3 days/week)
- sleep (7–8 hours)
From here I build on every week. I start what time and day I will do these (some are fixed such as my job) to any other extras, such as cleaning, hobbies, groceries, or trips. Even if I do extra planning, I know that things can come up, so I move my priorities around that without being stressed about it.
Stoic principles helped me discover that this will work for me and they help me every time I am planning my week ahead. Here are the 5 principles I am using to optimize my routine:
Focus on what you can control
When planning a routine we have to be aware of how much we can control what we’ve written down. Weather, emergencies, sickness, or surprises can come up when we least want them, but that is not up to us. What is up to us is how we respond to them. Rather than getting frustrating that our schedule is off, we should adapt knowing that we can go back to what we had planned later (even if later means the next day or week).
Creating the perfect week can be fun on paper, but then when the week starts that neat schedule goes down the drain, not because of an unexpected event (those are not happening every week, come on, don’t lie to yourself), but because we let ourselves influenced by thoughts or others. So rather than having a complex week, I will resume to 3 to 4 actions that I want to do. Also, being proactive is vital if you want to optimize your days. Stop filling the ‘free time’ with TV or Netflix and do something that will help you achieve your dream routine.
Diminish your ego
Your ego will start rambling about how there is no point in trying because life will never be perfect. That will always stop you from improving anything, no matter how small. It will also tell you that you are better at something than a lot of people already, so you can stop learning. Train yourself to notice this voice and then silence it by saying why you want to improve your day. Go back to your principles, you need some strong principles in order to not be controlled by ego.
Do those damn hard things you keep adding to your plan, but you never do. Also, lean into those obstacles that pop up from time to time, don’t run under your blanket. The more you get out of your comfy zone the easier it will be to stick to the skeleton of your routine
Lead by example
It’s easy to say to other people what to do, we do it all the time, even if no one asked for our input. So, before giving advice about how early someone should wake up or how much to meditate, do it yourself, for more than a week. Do the things you consider important for a healthy routine for at least a few months and you will need no words. People around you will notice and ask about it, and in the end, they might join you. Also, when planning your routine ask yourself what example you would like to be for someone. Maybe you want to inspire your parents to exercise, your partner to eat better, or your child to read more. This will help you decide what to prioritize.
Next time you want to change or make a routine, take these aspects into consideration. It takes time to find that balance between rigidity and spontaneity, so don’t be too harsh with yourself. Experiment until you find your formula, start with the skeleton.