The Importance of a Routine
Written by Holden Rethwill

Take a look at any professional athlete, or just about any successful person in life. What is one thing the majority of them all have in common?

They all have a routine.

Take for instance Kirk Cousins, the NFL Quarterback for the Washington Redskins. This guy has his entire day planned out basically down to the minute (even stating the allotted time scheduled for spending time with his wife). Now this may be a bit extreme for most – ok 99.9% – of us, but before passing judgment look at his recent track record. He went from being essentially a low grade backup draft pick to Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, to one of the most efficient starting quarterbacks in the league this last year.

What does he attribute most of his success to? His routine.

The importance of setting and sticking to a routine is discussed in Examined Existence [1]. According to the article “Why Daily Routines are Important” having a routine will:

  • Build good habits
  • Increase efficiency
  • Negate the need for willpower and motivation
  • Build momentum
  • Help you become good at things
  • Save work on the back end

In the world of CrossFit aren’t all of these things what we’re looking to do? Whether you’re interested in competing or just being fit, these six products of having a routine are exactly what we look for when we step through that door. It just shows that having a planned routine for your daily life can directly correlate to success in the gym because “it reduces the amount of mental energy [you] expend[s] during the weekly grind and it forces [you] to focus on what’s important while eliminating time-consuming distractions” [2].

The first step in creating a routine is finding what works for you. Are you the kind of person who needs things written down in a planner? Are you the kind of person who sets a million alarms to remind you what you have next (I’m guilty of this), or do you have another method that works for you? Once you know what works best to keep you on schedule, you can begin to look at each day and plan accordingly what you need to accomplish. Looking back at that whole 15-minute increment schedule doesn’t look quite as crazy when we really sit down and think about everything that we accomplish on a daily basis!

Once you’ve figured out the best way to hold yourself accountable, the second step to creating your routine is to actually plan out your schedule. List out the most important things you have to accomplish, your to-do list for the day, and build the rest of your day around them. This brings us back to eliminating time-consuming distractions. Knowing what is on your to-do list each day allows you to plan ahead and can actually help to free up blocks of time for otherwise less important tasks, or tasks that don’t need to be done at a specific time. Keep in mind that things do come up and it is more than likely that you will have to adjust your schedule at some point. Having a routine set can help to allow you the flexibility to re-organize things when life happens.

After your schedule is laid out in front of you and you have a plan for how you will approach each day, the final step is to give it a shot. Try out a routine for a few days, setting a specific bedtime, wake up time, etc. and give your body the chance to adjust to it. Test it out for a few weeks, letting your body settle into the routine and see if this is working for you. If it is, great! If not, take a step back and analyze what the problem is. It could be that you need another method of holding yourself accountable, or maybe you need to prioritize tasks differently.

Playing college football and being a full time student helped me to gain a lot of experience in setting and sticking to a routine. Having such a full schedule, I needed to maximize the time I had each day. For years now I’ve stuck to a similar routine and it has worked great for me. So if you’re in need of an example, or even a kick-start, here’s peak into how I schedule for myself:

I like to sit down on Sunday and know almost exactly what I have for the next week – I say almost because there will always be other things that come up and this goes back to having the flexibility to add and subtract items from your routine. For me, the most important item on my schedule each day is the time I’m coaching and working. Once I know that schedule, I like to plan around it. I figure out what time I need to wake up, when I need to leave my house, the time I will get to train, and of course the time I’ll have to eat. Every night I set an alarm on my phone before each important block of time so that I am aware of what I have coming up next and give myself ample time to be prepared – now don’t get me wrong, I am completely cognizant of my schedule each day, but I continue to set many alarms because that’s what works best for me. Knowing what I have each day helps me to prep the night before. I lay out my clothes for the next day, pack all the meals I need, and preemptively take care of any tasks that will help to eliminate stress and time-consuming distractions the next morning. I then go to bed and wake up at an hour that will allow me the amount of sleep I need to be sufficiently prepared to tackle each day. During the day I stick to the schedule I have laid out for myself and make sure that I allow plenty of time to be prepared for whatever task is next on my list. At the end of the day I allow myself 15-30 minutes to decompress and reflect on the day before I begin preparation for the next day. Not every day is completely the same, but the routine pertaining to how I choose to schedule each day remains a constant variable.

Having a daily routine is something that has a huge affect on our performance. From regular sleep schedules to eating food that properly fuels us, it is important to find and set a routine that works for you, and then make a habit out of it. I’m not saying that you need to be Kirk Cousins and sit down and plan out every day of the week in color-coded (yes I said color-coded) 15-minute increments. But I am saying that it is for your benefit to have a plan and stick to it. This way we are able to maximize the time we have each day in order to best prepare ourselves for success. “When we consciously decide what we want to do with every day of our lives, we generally want to do what makes us happy or what gives us the most utility” [1].

If you have troubles prioritizing or setting routines and would like to talk about it feel free to ask any questions you may have. I’d love to help!


  • TRI. “Why Having a Daily Routine Is Important.” Examined Existence. N.p., 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 23 Jan. 2016. <>.
  • El-Bashir, Tarik. “Redskins’ Kirk Cousins Goes next Level with His Daily Planner.” CSN Mid-Atlantic. N.p., 25 Dec. 2015. Web. 23 Jan. 2016. <>.



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