People like us avoid routines. We’re naturally spontaneous and revel in the little surprises we get from not knowing what’s coming next. It’s our makeup to feel life is an adventure and around every corner is a new best friend or an invite to the White House.
This need for freedom comes with serious disadvantages. We know the Grinders in life achieve success with discipline. Tortoises grind it out every day, doing the same things over and over, leading them to wealth and success. We Hares are quick and talented, but prone to napping while Tortoises steadily make their way past us.
We need to leverage our strengths and keep our weaknesses at bay. If we putter or socialize when we should be working, our creativity will never see the light of day. Not in any significant way.
So routines are our friends. Or at least our frenemies. We may not always like them, but we need them. They keep us from distraction and free up time for what we’re meant to do with our talent.
The more Manic Impressive you are, the more you’ll struggle to build and maintain routines. Here are 3 key areas where you need rigid routines:
1) Schedules – If you added up all the missed doctor appointment fees paid by Manic Impressives, you could buy a house in the Hamptons and hire that Hank guy from Royal Pains as your concierge doctor.
Most of us have smartphones with calendar apps and auto alerts. You’d think that would solve the problem. But it still takes more effort than we Manics naturally muster.
You actually have to get things into your calendar. So make a hard and fast rule to never schedule anything without your phone in hand. And set two alerts; one the morning of, one the day before.
Schedule yourself a realistic amount of time between appointments. Add travel time to your calendar. If you have a 2 pm meeting that’s an hour away, put it on your calendar for 1pm. You need to focus on when you must leave, not when you need to arrive.
Bonus Tip – Review tomorrow’s schedule every night before bed. Nothing says ‘flake’ more than missing an appointment already in your smartphone. I’m not talking special little snowflake either…
2) Being On Time – Manic Impressives are notorious for running late. It’s not, as some people think, that we don’t respect the time of others. It’s that we lose focus on the mundane, get distracted by the shiny, and underestimate how long it takes to do things.
The fix is to be brutally honest about how quick you move. Run a timer on every step it takes to get out the door. To shower, dress, eat, gather gear, and back the car out of the garage. Then time exactly how long it takes to get where you’re going – not to the parking lot of the place, but up into the building, past the donuts and gossipy co-workers and to your seat at that meeting.
Only when you know exactly how long it takes can you consistently be on time.
Bonus Tip – Things done in advance help. Shower at night if you can. Lay out your clothes. Preload the coffee maker. Get your destinations in your phone mapping app the night before. Tortoises learn to do these things at an early age. It’s not too late for you.
3) Organizing Things – Manic Impressives spend more time searching for misplaced items than teens spend texting. It’s not natural for us to have a place for everything and everything in its place. But this is a practiced skill of vital importance to us.
It’s okay to have a messy desk or cluttered living room. But a haphazard approach to the essentials, your wallet, keys and phone, will keep you late and breathless instead of on time and composed.
For crucial things we need to access immediately, there must be an ironclad routine from which we never waver. Every night you must put these things in the exact same place. Always!
You need to build a routine around whatever your essentials are. Mine are wallet, keys and phone. You might need to add a lipstick, EpiPen or Buck knife (hey, you could be a female food-allergic rancher for all I know), but whatever they are, you must not waver.
When you leave home in the morning, these items need to go in the exact same place throughout the day. My keys go in my right pants pocket, wallet in the left, cell phone in my right back pocket. It seems dumb, but it works. When I follow this principle I never waste time looking. The minute I waver, bad things happen.
Manic Impressives lose hours every month looking for things. Eliminate your search stress and use this time for creative work.
Bonus Tip – Never, and I mean never lock you car door or trunk without seeing your keys in your hand. Force yourself to always look first. This will save you the pain of locking your keys in your trunk and explaining your stupidity to tow truck dispatchers.
Sure, routines seem to restrict freedom, but in reality they enable freedom. Freedom from stress, worry, time constraints, and even “Hurry Sickness” (yeah, that’s a real thing).
It helps to look at what you’ll gain, not what you’ll lose. It feels good to show up on time with your sh*t together, instead of arriving a heavy-breathing scattered sweaty mess.
Less Manic, More Impressive!
Post your best practices for routines below, and let’s see what we can learn from each other. . .