I thrive on routine. It is something that keeps me grounded, calm and gives me the ability to be creative and insightful: if whatever can be routinised is, I can focus my mental energy on thinking, listening, connecting. Routine also helps me do things that bring me joy: having a set time for reading each day keeps me from getting depressed when a month has passed and I have not turned one page.
I was noticing the other day how the rhythm of my routines has sped up, I feel like I live in one of those silent movies from the past, you know, the ones where people are moving at very high speed on the screen. I wake up Monday morning at 5 AM and get dressed for the day and before I realize it, I am getting undressed in the same spot on Thursday evening and I can barely remember what Tuesday was all about. It has started to really worry me … this speed-dialing through life, even through the good stuff. I seem to just put everything on speed-dial from Monday until Friday and then even the breathing and relaxing during the weekend, trying to cram as much as I can in a day’s time. This speed is almost mimiking the instant gratification of the digital world. Except it’s not gratification.
I was listening to Paul Olteanu, one of my very favorite podcasters in Romania, a student of neuroscience with great communication knowledge and skills. In his last two podcasts he talked about procrastination and burnout. It stayed with me how he identified the reason for procrastinations as not being a lack of organization but emotional regulation. In the episode where he talks about burnout and about how, for people who thrive on always getting the job well done and being validated by good results, burnout is a sure thing: a human being who is not wired to constantly do more and more and more, placed in circumstances where she is given more and more and more to do and being wired to take all projects to fruition and get the best results, makes burnout as a sure outcome.
I have not found a solution to this madness, except to notice it. Whenever I manage to get out of the rollercoaster of daily life, I remind myself that routine is good if it does not become a chore or a pull in itself and look for ways in which I can preserve my energy, even if just a little bit. Breathe, pretend less, be me more, eat well and sleep. Sometimes I remember when I already feel sick but … the important thing is not to give up. Like Glennon Doyle says, we quit tens of times every single day but the important thing is that we don’t give up.