Every productivity video tells you how important routines are. As someone who has to follow strict routines as much as humanly possible, let me tell you: Routines suck! But, routines are also awesome. Seriously. I love them. I hate them. Both. At the same time.

Every morning, SleepCycle  wakes me at the same time-well, in the same 30-minute interval depending on when their motion detection algorithm thinks I’m not sleeping too deeply. Most days, I don’t need the alarm. Most days, I’m awake around 7 am on my own. Either way, I get out of bed immediately. I’ve disabled the snooze function in SleepCycle, so there’s no excuse to lie around for a few more minutes. I get out of bed then and there. Every. single. morning. (And yes, that includes weekends.)

Oh, how much I hate my routines in the first minutes of the day.

Working out is part of my morning routine on almost all days. On weekends, I give my muscles a chance to relax. Most days, I choose one of MadFit’s free video routines. On days where I need a lighter workout, it’s one of the many free yoga workout from Sarah Beth Yoga.

Oh, how much I hate my routines while sweat drips from my face onto my yoga mat.

But, the thing is, every morning, I also feel much better after completing a workout. I’m awake and refreshed and feel ready to tackle the day. It’s worth it.

Oh, how much I love my routines when I complete a good workout.

The routines I hate the most surround food, though. I suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I’ll tell you more about that journey in another blog post/video. My stomach gets upset if I don’t eat very regularly. I eat breakfast after my workout every morning around 8.15 am. I have a snack around 10 or 10.30, then lunch between 12.15 and 12.45 pm, another snack around 3 pm and then dinner around 6.30 pm. I then usually need another snack before bed or I wake up with stomach pains… So unless I get food into my stomach every three to four hours at the latest, I risk ending up on the couch again.

This was a big issue while I stayed at my mom’s house during my trip to Germany. They don’t even eat three regular meals. I think I ate 17 bananas in four days to compensate.

Oh, how much I hate my routines whenever food becomes a topic (or even worse: the lack thereof!)

Building all these routines took time–and a lot of failed attempts. So, don’t feel discouraged if a routine you want to implement doesn’t work out immediately. Take it slow and gradually change your habits until your routine becomes exactly that: a routine.

Don’t expect your body to suddenly be okay with working out every morning or with getting up at whatever ugly time you need to. Give your body time to adapt. I recently changed my wakeup time from 8.30 am to 7.30 am and then to 7 am (well, the latest time of the wakeup window in SleepCycle). Every few evenings, I changed the wakeup window by five minutes. Yes, five minutes only. It took me a month to get from 8.30 am to 7.30 am and I could often still feel the five minute difference the first day. I only moved it another five minutes if I woke up without feeling the missing five minutes. It took me another few weeks to get to 7 am. And that’s okay.

If you don’t want to lose sleep or stress your immune system, these things take time. I move my wakeup window by only five minutes at a time to not overwhelm my body. You might get away with a more drastic change if you are not suffering from anything like stomach issues, sleep issues, or mental health issues. But if you are like most people, you fall into at least one of those categories, so take it slowly. Seriously, make changes slowly and give your mind and body the necessary time to adapt.

I believe that building routines is something that most people can benefit from.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you need to get up at the same time every day. But if you have any trouble with sleep, a coffee addiction you want to kick, or a fuzzy brain, you might want to consider it. I recently read Why We Sleep and it’s been an eye-opening read. I had started looking into sleep, sleep habits, sleep hygiene, and related topics long before reading this book but it’s so good that I already added it back to my list as a book I want to read (and highlight) on my Kindle instead of just listening to the audiobook. Sleep is so essential to our wellbeing that we should start paying a little more attention to it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you need to eat as often or as regularly as I have to. That would be stupid. Most people don’t suffer from IBS. But most people would benefit from eating more regularly, more mindfully (read: no phones while eating!), not to mention more healthily. If you ask five people what that means, you’ll likely get seven different responses and half of them will contradict the others. That’s okay. I’m not going to tell you when to eat or how to eat or what to eat. I’m merely suggesting some regularity, so your body knows when to expect the next meal.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you need to follow the same routine day in and day out. That would be the end of creativity, spontaneity, and fun. But I’m saying that planning your days around some routines will make you healthier and happier.

Sometimes, an emergency banana will do just fine.

Kate Hildenbrand

Kate Hildenbrand

Kate Hildenbrand is a writer, youtuber, and podcaster about sustainability, minimalism, and living a life worth living.