Meet Watson. He’s my mother-in-law’s dog, and I recently took care of him while she was away for a week’s holiday.
He inspired me to consider the value of routines. Here’s why.
Watson is a country dog. He spends a lot of time outside. And, he has a lot of space to roam free. Our dog, Speedy, is a city dog. We trained him to walk on a leash, and he’s quite happy lounging about inside for most of the day.
Speedy’s 12, and while he was fast in his day, arthritis slows him down quite a bit now. Watson’s a young dog, and he’s strong. He has a LOT of energy.
He also lives in a bungalow. We have a four level house, and Speedy’s trained to stay on the main floor. Watson became my shadow as soon as he arrived, and it was a challenge to keep him from following me upstairs.
So, needless to say, some things showed up around routines for me during Watson’s visit!
the value of routines
Routines re-inforce standards*
I’m pretty adaptable, but to have a second dog in the house who is so different from our own really helped me understand that I have STANDARDS around dog behaviour.
For example, when it’s time for a walk, I don’t like Speedy to jump on me and lick me while I put my coat and shoes on and get organized. We’d never get out the door. So, I taught him to wait on the step while I prepare. He can be as excited as he wants to be on that step. Imagine two dogs dancing and prancing and talking around my feet first thing in the morning! No thank you!
It’s the same kind of thing when it comes to being on leash. It’s not safe for me to have a dog criss cross in front of me or pull me while we walk. So I trained Speedy to walk “beside me.” He knows to stay on the boulevard side of the sidewalk (so he doesn’t do his business on people’s front lawns!)
Although I set these routines in place for our dog long ago, I forgot about them. Watson reminded me that they support my expectations about what’s acceptable and what’s not. And the same is true in business.
Stop and Reflect Questions: Do your routines re-inforce your standards in your business? Do you have standards? What are they?
*M Shannon Hernandez taught me about having standards.
Routines allow us to relax and stay calm
Watson’s an anxious dog to start with, so you can imagine his anxiety levels peaked while away from home, out of his usual routine. At times, I felt a little cranky to have my usual routine disrupted. We definitely had to blend our routines. He coped with a leash and our morning walk. I fed him every day at 5 pm. On. The. Dot.
And yet, he surprised me. I was amazed to see how quickly he adapted to the new routine. I’d say by day 3, he knew what was expected of him. He started sitting at the top of the stairs so I could put his leash on. He came and sat with Speedy while I put his eye drop in (he knew there was a treat involved if he sat beside him.) When I let him out of his crate, he went right to the door because he knew I’d play ball with him.
And you know what? These routines helped him relax. Because he knew what came next. He didn’t have to roam the house on high alert.
I discovered that routines allow our brains to stop working so hard – to remember, to anticipate, to constantly think. Routines give us space to relax, and when we can relax and stay calm, we can be creative in our work and in our problem solving.
Stop and Reflect Questions: Where could you create a routine in your business that would allow you to breathe and be creative? On a typical day, are you frazzled and scattered or calm and focused?
routines help us stay healthy
I acknowledge that I am blessed and cursed with with ability to hyper-focus. It comes in handy when I really need to get things done. But, it’s not healthy for me to go day after day in this mode. While Watson was with us, I worked outside every day, doubled the distance of my walk, and took frequent breaks. And I felt better for it.
Funnily enough, I had been wondering how to spend more time outside, get more exercise and take more breaks in my day.
Turns out all I needed to do was – well – do it. Okay, it helped to have a reason.
I’ve always believed that if we don’t have our health, we don’t have much. And, as a solopreneur, our health is directly correlated to our ability to earn a living. Having Watson here encouraged me to take a long, hard look at whether or not my current routines support me to be and stay healthy. And the answer is no, not all of them do. I’ve already started to make some adjustments.
Stop and Reflect Questions: Do your routines support you to live a full and healthy life? Where could you improve? What routines work well right now?
an invitation to meet me at the finish line
Watson really helped me understand the value of routines can have in business. I’ve created a valuable routine for Visionary Entrepreneurs in my Facebook community called The Finish Line.
It’s an opportunity for you to get-things-done in your business. Here’s how it works:
On Sundays, you’d post the 3 tasks you most want to accomplish for the week (it’s usually what’s most important for you to do or they’re things you’ve been putting off doing.)
Wednesday is check in day. You can ask for the support you need to finish those tasks.
And, on Fridays, you get to celebrate your progress, or, reflect on why you weren’t able to finish what you wanted.
It’s a great way to tap into the momentum of others starting, taking action, and completing work. But, it’s not a race. You work at your own pace and on your own priorities. And, its amazing what can happen with the “gentle” accountability (as one of the members says) you give yourself by posting your 3 tasks.
If you’d like to get some traction in your business in a safe and supportive community, I’d love to have you meet me at The Finish Line. Check it out here.