I understand why people need routine in their lives. Especially with psychological disorders, it becomes a handrail guiding you through your problems and providing stability. Personally however, I find that routine is actually more destructive and I like to use an old Japanese saying that applies to melee combat (martial arts) as well as insouciance: You can be the dock, hard and firm, unmoved by the waves. Or you can be the boat, riding on the tide. When the typhoon comes the dock will break and the boat will wash away.
The boat comes away unharmed, whereas the dock facing a greater force invariably snaps. Think of time as a force, because it is. It moves in one direction, forward. It may move at a constant rate though we populate it with the things that we require of it. Now imagine our populated time as an assembly line. Assembly lines are a magical way to manage time effectively. This is the very vision of routine. However, one small break in the routine, one failure in the assembly line and things begin to build up… Under the pressure of the force of time the assembly line breaks. The point is: if you manage your time too rigidly, with a strenuous and overpopulated routine and you fail to meet the demands of it, it will ruin you in far worse ways than having no routine at all.
The above are the reasons why I manage my life as a series of nows. I don’t always do this particularly well, and yes it can clash with the routines set out for me by others (work, activities, family, etc.) but if something goes wrong it is immediately followed by another now. No build-up, no force of time. The only mitigating factor is how many nows are available for me to burn on any given thing. If I don’t have enough time I simply postpone. Life has too many obligations and stressors I really don’t need the management of my time to cause me anxiety.
So, for those of you who feel as though you desperately need to grasp at a scheduled routine in order to make your life work, I respect it but implore you to consider an alternative. The one major tip that I will give you is this: if you have appointments or obligations to be somewhere by a given time, make sure that you are there with loads of time to spare. I mean show up to everything half an hour early. Even work. I show up an hour early for work every day. But like a kid watching the clock after last recess the moment the clock ticks off I am out of there like a shot. Straight home to my room to tear off my pants and eat while watching “Homeland”. That time is mine. I use it to deflate from the day. I figure if my sleep is patchy to begin with getting up a half hour earlier (and sleeping maybe a half hour earlier, maybe…) isn’t going to fuss my life up all that much. So why not be early? Give yourself alone time in the car in the parking lot with a coffee (tea? yuck…) and a news article (cigarette?!) to relax before whatever you have to do, it might help your demeanor, it may show whomever you are meeting a huge amount of reliability and initiative.
This is the closest thing I have to a routine, a stubborn unwillingness to be merely “on time” for anything. I must be early. You know what though? Like honesty, it pays off big time. The downside to this is that when I am actually late (on time) for anything I get really upset with myself, which is ultra-rare but has happened a few times.
Just some perspective and advice, take it or leave it. Not like I am a life guru by any stretch of the imagination.