Schedule Versus Routine

There’s a lot of things I’d like to do with my free time. Usually I sit in front of the computer or the console, and try to figure out what exactly I want to participate in. I’m currently starting over in The Elder Scrolls Online on the XB1, still have Guild Wars 2 to get through, and of course there’s always Fallout 4 waiting for me. But there are other tasks I’d like to get to as well. I really would like to stream with some regularity, just because why not? Project Universe has been put on hold for the holidays because there’s all kinds of other events that need my attention, but it’s never far from my mind. A wealth of opportunity to partake in all this fun stuff is something practically any gamer can relate to, but it’s still not uncommon to see people admit to waffling on making decisions. What’s the secret to keeping up a regular interaction?

Over there on the right sidebar you might have noticed (since I’m pointing it out) the Twitch banner I have up there saying that I stream at 5PM EDT. If you’re reading this via RSS, then you’ll have close your eyes and imagine the sexiest banner you’ve ever seen. I’ve not streamed anything at 5PM EDT in weeks. Months, maybe. My original intent was that if I have a banner up on the site, and if people saw the banner they’d expect me to be present online at 5PM EDT sharp, Monday through Friday. This was my attempt to schedule myself to be somewhere, doing something, at a time where I could very well be doing anything at all that wasn’t one of the things I really wanted to do. Sadly, my self-scheduling has failed thus far, but committing to this activity in this time slot is also something that’s not far from my mind.

I think there’s a fine line of difference between a schedule and a routine. Schedules, to me, are things on a calendar, like a dentist appointment or a parent-teacher conference. A routine is something you do almost automatically, like whatever you do in the morning between the point where you fake consciousness and the time you leave for work or school. Writing these posts is almost a routine: I pen them usually around 7:30 AM EDT and release them at 10 AM EDT Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It sounds like a schedule, but it’s kind of automatic at this point because I’ve been on this routine for almost a year now, and because it’s something I’ve decided I want to commit to.

Depending on your point of view, schedules can lead to routines, but some might consider routines to require a little bit of extra magic. I can schedule something to do every day, but if I miss it…oh well. It’s not routine to me until I find that I get annoyed when I missed it, or until I no longer need a schedule to remind me to do it. Routines might be something I look forward to, or something I do on muscle memory alone. In order for the muscle to have something to remember, though, it has to actually do something worth remembering, right? That’s my problem: starting the things that I’d like to become routine.

One of my New Years Resolutions is to set a schedule in the hopes of some of those events becoming routines. Blogging is taken care of. I also have a scheduled routine of Dungeons & Dragons on Thursday nights (although there’s a group involved that helps keep everyone honest when it comes to showing up). I’d like to set aside a block of time each week for Project Universe, and to keep that 5PM EDT time block for streaming. In order to meet that last goal, though, I need to find a game or games that I can play with some regularity so I can look forward to sitting down and keeping my promises, and not just sit down and get frustrated because I’m just not feeling anything in my gaming inventory.

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