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Monday

Creativity, physical fitness, and relationships are sustained only through a solid routine. Create one.

Written by Steven Chaffin, Jr.

Routines are important, OK?  My high counterpart might have thought he was too good for them, taking inspiration from laid back friends who had little-to-no routine and seemed to be less stressed and more successful, but in the real world--the world I’m entering--they are a necessity.  Whether you’re looking to start a business, lose weight, or simply get by, it’s time to get a routine.

I admit that I used to think differently.  I would have argued for hours with what I’m about to say, scoffing at anyone who had set themselves into a strict routine.  If I adopted one, I’d be resigning myself to monotony and mediocrity.  As an ambitiously naïve student, there was no way I could become anything short of revolutionary, and so routines were out of the picture.
Today's technology makes staying organized easier than ever.

Aligning with the data gathered by universities and institutions around the world, I proved that my generation is more narcissistic and egoistic than my parent’s.  

This mentality couldn't have been built on a shakier foundation.  Taking inspiration from both famous world leaders, innovators, and my closest of friends, I had it all wrong.

My friends, for example, are all fairly disorganized.  Names aside, I failed to realize that one of them seems to be more stressed and confused than me on average, and the other is pursuing some Marley-esque approach to living that is completely irrelevant and incompatible with my goals and ambitions.  While I wish both of them the best of luck, it isn’t the path for me and would probably result in me dropping out of college after one semester and working at a local restaurant.  I don’t want that to happen.  I work in the food industry, and although my coworkers are astoundingly funny and filled with stories and inspiration, I want to leave it behind for good.

Growing up on the internet, I’ve never been big with seeking out inspiration from those around me, my family in particular.  Although their advice would probably be more relevant and easier to acquire, us millennials take to the web to find inspiration and the answer to our every problem.  Over time, I began to find my own, nerdy role models.  My primary source of inspiration came, at the time, from executives of major technology companies who had been known for their creative and innovative spark.  I had this romantic idea, going in, that these innovators were exempt from the daily stupor of “what should I be doing right now?”, that they didn’t need a routine in order to keep their heads on straight.  They woke up every morning and always knew exactly what to do, not because they had planned ahead but from sheer brilliance and superior intellect.  

Certainly, then, adopting a routine would mean relinquishing my chances of ever reaching their level of social status.  Note to self: You’re an idiot.

Somehow, I was wrong!  You’re stunned, I know.  So was I.  Because our window into the private lives and routines of these young billionaires is so narrow and unclear, it is easy to misinterpret how they actually live their lives and what it takes to achieve their level of success.  The brilliant minds of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, human as the rest of us, who have given us devices that we can no longer live without, adhere to a variety of routines.

You might have heard of Steve Jobs before, or his somewhat successful company, Apple.  Love him or hate him, he created products in a very short period of time that many of us are dependent upon today.  If you own a Macbook, iPhone, iPad, or listen to music on iTunes, you owe Jobs a little acknowledgement.  Often portrayed as a young mastermind who viciously crawled his way into success, it is often forgotten that he had a fairly regular routine that helped him reap the most from every hour and kept him on track while running the world's most valuable technology corporation.  Walter Isaacson, Jobs' biographer who declined to write the piece until made aware of the innovator's failing health, discussed this routine with Forbes:

Each morning, Jobs would hold his famous, no-bullshit product meetings in which people were both praised and berated in the same sentence.  In the afternoons, he would find solace in the top-secret design quarters of Apple, where he would sometimes talk for hours with design boss Jony Ive concerning every aspect of the products he perused.  In the evening, Jobs preferred to spend time with his family in his Cupertino home, opting to stay out of the limelight as frequently as possible.  This routine, fairly simple on its surface, gave a structure to the perfectionist’s days that allowed Jobs to continuously perform well and come up with new ideas.  Without a routine, who knows what the disoriented Jobs might have forgotten to bring up at a meeting:

“What was that revolutionary product I was going to bring up today...?  I can’t remember.  I think it was some sort of phone.  Must not have been important.  Anyway, let’s talk about the iMac,” Jobs didn’t say at a meeting that never occurred. 




Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and founder of Square, has a much more black-and-white routine that helps him manage his 80-hour work week.  Literally clocking in 8 hours at Square and then another 8 hours at Twitter every weekday, Dorsey organizes his days by theme, focusing on one aspect of his two companies at a time.

Monday: Management meetings and "running the company" work
Tuesday: Product development
Wednesday: Marketing, communications and growth
Thursday: Developers and partnerships
Friday: The company and its culture

*List courtesy of CNN Money.

If you’re anything like I was, you probably think you don’t need a routine.  Or, you already have one without knowing it.  The truth of the matter is that routines are crucial for long-term success, and that’s the ultimate goal in everything we do.  Keeping your life in order for a short period of time might seem easy without a routine, but it won’t be long before you’re letting certain aspects of your life, perhaps your personal relationships or health, slip between your fingers.  Whether we’re talking about maintaining your academic prowess over the course of several years, adhering to a strict diet and fitness regime, keeping those you care about closest, or simply getting by on a daily basis, a routine is the only way to sustain your focus and ensure that nothing goes unchecked.  Make yourself a new routine.

Steven Chaffin, Jr. is an American writer and student of the University of Missouri-Columbia.  Currently studying Journalism and Economics, Steven is an editor for PlayStation Universe and a freelance writer for SixPackAbs.com.  You can connect with Steven on Twitter @steven_chaffin.