The Importance of Routine

TLDR;  Routine, in moderation, is life saving. Taken to the extreme, it’s soul crushing.

In a former life I ran checklists. That was my job, to sit in an airplane and read a checklist aloud so that the crew didn’t forget anything.

You might imagine that after awhile I started to be able to recite these checklists without looking at the book. You would be correct. However, what also happened is that occasionally things would not go the  way they were supposed to. At that point, that magical moment, things were not routine.

During those emergency procedures there was some freedom to display the engineering acumen afforded me by the finest technical schools that the United States tax payers were willing to pay for. Other times the aircraft malfunctioned exactly the way the book said it would, routine. Yet despite the crew and machine’s best efforts I survived. Mostly due to the boring routine that I practiced for thousands of hours.

One thing that was also routine, was the gear I used. I flew in the dark ages where crews still carried actual paper manuals with them. I was fortunate enough to carry exactly 50lbs of aircraft manuals, checklists and gear. After a few years I could tell by the weight of my bag in my hand, if I was missing something. Routine.

At some point I decided that I didn’t want to spend my life doing the same thing every day for the rest of my professional life. So, I went out and found a job that, by it’s nature changes every day. Where nothing was routine. In fact routine could get you killed with what I do now. So I have welcomed the chaos into  my life, to banish the routine back into a corporate hell from whence it came.

So remember when I said that I’m probably still alive because of the routine that I practiced for over a decade? That everything I did, down to the gear I carried was the same day after day.

Today I forgot to pack a shirt in my gym bag.

So I heard a podcast with a person I look up to the other day. This guy works, primarily, in a world where routine can get you smoked. However… there is a point where Tim mentions that he had a very meditative routine when it came to his gear. Routine….

In fact if you go down a Tim Ferris rabbit hole you’ll see a pattern where high level professionals, people at the top of their professions have a routine. Sometimes this is a morning routine, sometimes this is an evening routine, or even a protocol for a situation they routinely encounter. Routine…Patterns.

Routine, in moderation, is life saving. Taken to the extreme, it’s soul crushing.


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