The Magic of Routine and Repetition


This month has been a great practice in routine and repetition for me, and a great reminder of the magic in that process.

I’ve claimed my can’t nots and committed to similar diet, exercise plan and work habits each day.

Other things have happened too. I joined friends for writing dates and lunches, my parents came to visit and I planned a trip for March, but the core of each day has been very similar to the one that came before.

Routine hasn’t become boring for me because my day isn’t consumed with routine. I don’t plan out the whole day and have each hour booked with activity. Instead I infuse my day with small pockets of routine including an hour in the morning and small chunks of time throughout the day.

My Routine

  • Wake up, brush teeth, drink water.
  • Go to the empty gym in my apartment building and meditate for 7 minutes (last week it was 6 minutes, and 5 minutes the week before that)
  • Spend 30 minutes raising my heart rate and wrap up the workout by holding plank for 60-70 seconds (last week it was 50-60 seconds)
  • Write
  • Eat an apple with almond butter and a bowl of steamed spinach for breakfast.
  • Write and work
  • Yoga and/or walk.
  • Eat some combination of raw carrots, apples, oranges, steamed broccoli, roasted veggie pizza on a whole wheat pita, big salad, avocado, walnuts, hemp seeds and oil free dressing for lunch and dinner.
  • Write and work.
  • Yoga and/or walk.
  • Read

These aren’t they only things that happen each day and they don’t always happen in that order, but they are the bones or core of my weekdays. Some days are different, but typically my routine is in place, and through repetition it’s becoming habit and I am more proficient and engaged in each activity. Breaking the routine on a weekend day makes me even more committed to the routine.

How to create your own routine

Start small. Choose one time of day and give yourself 5 minutes to engage in an activity you enjoy. Each week, add one minute.

Use an app. I use Insight timer for mediation and C25K for running and sometimes track steps with Moves. If I’m feeling scattered or want to work on several different things during the day, I use Simple Pomodoro Timer.

Be flexible. Your routine will become an important part of your day, but be flexible. If you get started 20 minutes late, or have to skip a day, drop the drama and just get back to it.

Make it personal. Your routine or routines are for you. Create them to serve you, so you can better serve your family, health, work, and art.

Keep it simple. My diet is almost the same every day. If you want to lose weight, or change your eating habits, one of the most powerful things you can do is eat the same meals each day for a few weeks or longer.

Make it count. Your routine isn’t about going through the motions. Make your routine meaningful. I wrote How to Create a Meaningful Morning Routine to help. I’ve been experimenting with creating routine for years and continue to be amazed with the results.

The Magic

Over the last 30 days, I’ve lost 12 pounds, noticed an increase in energy and strength and am sleeping really well, but that’s not the magic.

The magical part is that from routine and repetition, I’ve become more confident and focused. I’ve seen how daily dedication can result in body and mind transformation. With that comes great momentum and motivation to continue. While it doesn’t seem like it on day one, 30 days is a short amount of time for a new routine or habit. Lasting change is infused with purpose and is not a short term investment.

What’s in your daily routine?



  1. says

    I loved the interview! It was inspiring, informative, and practical for my readers. Great post on how to create a morning routine, especially the advice to make it flexible and personal. Far too often we tend to give up when after missing a day and forget that we can “just get back to it.” It’s never too late to begin again, step out and keep going. Thanks Courtney!

  2. says

    I love routines. There are way fewer things to put on my to-do list and keep track of, since I just do so many things automatically as part of my routine.

  3. Sarah says

    I love the sound of your Eat to Live challenge. How do you go with the time needed for preparing all the vegetables? Do you use a food processor.?

    • JulieB/Julie Spahn says

      I am also very curious about that. I don’t have a food scale, so I really have no idea how much 1# of raw vegetables and 1# of cooked vegetables looks like.
      I do love routines though. They are actually very liberating.

  4. says

    Wow! Congratulations on the weight loss! Very inspiring…
    It is true that building a routine removes the need for too much thinking, leading to doubt, often in turn leading to giving up… I do the same for my swimming routine, for instance. I get my bag ready the day before, so that in the morning, I just grab it, and head for the pool, without having to think too much about it…

  5. says

    One of the best feelings in the world is when you unconsciously start doing a new habit — catch yourself — and then realize it’s become the new normal. Drinking water as soon as I wake up is a big one. Thanks for posting.

  6. says

    I’m glad that you mentioned about not making your day an entire routine. Because life happens and you won’t be able to keep a full day of routines all of the time.

    I started marathon training and I wrote out my weekly exercise for the next 16 weeks. It’s a good routine for me. Although, I know that I might have to move around days. I have two rows…one for what I’m supposed to do and one for what actually happens.

  7. Kyoko says

    I’m glad that I could read this today!
    I purchased your micro-course the other day and today was Day 2 after spending 3 days for Day 1(I just couldn’t get out of bed earlier…). I walked 5 minutes outside as my first activity and felt so nice.
    I have a 4 year-old girl and a day job, and haven’t had nourishing time just for myself for a long time.
    My goal first is to experience “habit-making” itself since routines and repetitions are not my things.
    I am enjoying your course! Thanks! I will let you know how this routine-making ends up.
    From your reader in Japan!

  8. Natalie says

    I’m curious, do you do yoga at home on your own or in a class? I prefer to be in a group setting, but the weather has been so horrid here lately, I’m looking for a nice yoga app I can do on my own at home…didn’t know if you had any apps you could recommend? Thanks!

  9. says

    Routine help me keep my sanity when so much of life (especially with a special needs teenager) can be unpredictable. It can also be my “frenemy” – I stick too close to it and it drives me a little bonkers when something disturbs that harmony.

  10. susie says

    Hi Courtney just a quick question, does your husband follow your same eating plan or are you cooking for two? How has your way of living affected your MS?. Has your daughter moved to Australia yet?
    Love Susie
    Perth WA