Why Routine and Boring Stuff Matters

The Flu Revelation

I didn’t realize the importance of routines until I came down with the flu and was out of commission for about a week. I had lost all momentum. While sick I had a difficult time even reading. Now feeling better all I had to do was hop back in the routine. Problem was I didn’t have a strong routine established. I didn’t have a solid personal morning routine, I’m realizing more that I didn’t have a good classroom routine established. Now here I am navigating a sea storm with a battered ship and torn sails. No reference points and limited controls.

Don’t completely blame me yet, I had thought I had routines, but they had never been tested. After laying around and following only the schedule of my nausea for a week and was now expecting to hop back on the productivity train without a hiccup. For some, this might be a simple task, but without setting strong routines my train had stalled to a stop. It takes a lot to get a locomotive going from a still position.

I had so much I wanted to get done but I didn’t have a starting point. Missing school a few days, my students had forgotten any idea of expectations that had been set for the class. I see what was lacking. When I was there, I kept it together, but it wasn’t set-up to keep moving without my input. The same was true for my mornings. Did I feel like getting up early today? Oh well, I’ll just hit snooze six times. I’ve allowed excuses to creep in and feelings to manipulate.

I don’t get giddy when shown a schedule and I’ve never found calendars to be particularly sexy. These have more of my attention now.

Establishing Routine

We’re rhythmic beings. Our Sabbath should be just like our heartbeat, consistent and reliable. We must have a rhythm if we’re expected to weave together a career, personal interests, family engagement, and spiritual growth. I’ve begun to have set times of the week for these but I didn’t have it instilled prior to getting sick.

Having specific times for writing and personal hobbies makes me more reliable to my family, no longer sporadically saying, “Hey, I have an idea I want to write about, is it alright if I go write for a bit?”

The same is true for my teaching. I think I apply effective strategies for learning in my classroom. Although I’ve yet to instill them in an organized manner. To the students, these different strategies show up unexpected.

I’ve been given a needed opportunity to reevaluate the organization of my classroom and my life. This time of year is always busy for me. It seems like requirements and obligations keep coming at me in the spring, but I now have specific places to put them.

Instilling My Routine

5:30am: Devotion and then write

Work: Get in early and get out on time

4-8pm: Commit to family

8-10pm: Personal commitments (read, woodworking, the occasional tv show with my wife). My readings and activities I do at night often relate to my teaching and writing.

This is not written in stone but I have specific places to put certain obligations. I feel more in control and reliable for my family and students and there is still room for occasional spontaneity.


Where is your life on the tidy to chaos spectrum?

I’m far from a productivity guru but my last post was also on this topic.

Finding Productivity in Serving Others, Not a To-Do List

Find Productivity in Serving Others, Not a To-Do List

As you well know, for me writing is my process of discernment. Here is the current battle.

How do I knock away at my to-do list while still giving others the attention and service God calls me to?

I’m a Slow Learner

I first wrote this question down a few weeks ago. Now I see the answer lies in the question. If my to-do list revolves around me and doesn’t exist to serve others, then I am not being productive. Lately I’ve been struggling to find the time to fulfill my hobbies. The problem is that each of my hobbies are self-serving and done in isolation. I believe these hobbies do contribute to my happiness and well being but I’m realizing they may be carrying too much priority.

My first awareness to this whole productivity vs. service issue came in the classroom. Am I existing as a teacher to work through a set curriculum or am I conscientiously serving the students in attention to their individualized needs? I’ve been searching for a clear cut answer but I’ve only discovered more questions. (This is another testament to why I believe there’s power in inquiry-based learning).

Questions like: Do I sit here and continue refining my lesson or go assist a coworker who I know is in need? Should I stop to talk to the student in obvious frustration or push through with my whole class instruction.    

The questions don’t stop there, it appears that every single situation and decision could become a conflict between productivity and service. I’ve finally discovered this doesn’t have to be the case. The two can smoothly meld together!

See Service in Every Task

I have written down on a notecard, “How is this serving others?” I’ll be keeping that card in my pocket daily until it disintegrates into a lint ball or to the point when I don’t remember why there is a notecard in my pocket. This card will give me a tangible reminder in my daily actions to intentionally spend my time fulfilling tasks that serve. It will also give purpose to the tasks that might be mundane but at the root serve.  

In the posture of service I give students valuable feedback when I’m grading instead of simply putting a grade. In this posture I’m motivated to pack my son’s lunch instead of leaving it for my wife. I’m a better person to converse with. Instead of numbering my to-do list in my mind while you talk at me, I’m engaged and invested in the exchange. When I do need that me-time hobby, I’m trying to do it in time that doesn’t take away from others. Like writing this blogpost at 5:00am the last two days. Moreover, my wife and son are pleased that I chose the quiet hobby of writing instead of using power tools for woodworking in the basement at 5:00am. So you could say I’m even serving my family while they sleep!

I can’t believe it took me several weeks for me to begin to attack my issue of productivity versus service. This also proves the importance of journaling and coming back to previous ideas. But that is another post for another day.


If you are serving someone you are being productive!


“As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.” -Henry David Thoreau


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