Routine … a blessing and a curse

by | November 12, 2008

We would be lost without some kind of structure in our life. Hopefully we don’t take any structure too seriously so it runs us rather than providing boundaries in which to function. I find routine fascinating, especially when tasks become automated because of repetition. Then we get to play the “Did I Really Do That Game” where we float through life on the automaticity wave and don’t always remember if a task was completed.

One shift in routine comes during the comprehensive exam. The routine one gets accustom to during the coursework phase of a doctoral program is disrupted by a self-imposed structure. No more “first post needs to be done by Wednesday, second posts by Sunday evening”. Nope! It’s all on your time now. This shift in routine can be refreshing freedom or a burden without an inkling for how to handle it.

How do you adjust to a shift in routine? Do you write reminder notes? Make notations on a calendar? Fly by the seat of your pants?

In essence it comes down to what works best for you – keep that routine! Allow yourself some adjustment time to become accustom to the new situation. This is one time that acknowledging (in some manner) that there is a different structure in place, is a great first step to successful readjustment.

The adjustment I made during the comprehensive exam had quite an impact on me. I found a rhythm (that worked) and sustained it (for the most part) during that time frame. When it was over I had to make another adjustment back to a far-less intense time and rigorous schedule … back to reality (so to speak). The shifting back and forth was not only an adventure but an awakening to who I am; a living (and affirming) demonstration of flexibility.

Our individual rhythms are like the music of our focus and determination that keeps us steady as we move through our lives. The pace might change but it is nonetheless a unique influence.