Routine can save your sanity when managing projects. I’m not saying that projects are routine, not by any stretch of the imagination. Projects are full of twists, turns and unexpected surprises that draw on your reserves of energy and sap your stamina. You may be travelling one direction with full momentum when a risk trigger forces you to turn on a dime to address it. No, projects are not routine. That is why it is important to implement routine wherever possible.

A routine can be as simple as the sequence of steps you take to address your email each day. It doesn’t matter if you tackle them all in the morning chronologically or if you group them by sender before an afternoon of responses. What is important is that you approach it consistently. Do it the same way at the same time each day. Then it becomes automatic, something you don’t have to expend energy reminding yourself about.

Practice routine in your daily preparation. Wake up at the same time each day. Do your morning activities in the same order. Let your brain coast on cruise control as much as possible when dealing with routine activities so you will have plenty of energy left over for the situations that require spontaneity and creative thinking. Getting dressed, brushing your teeth, and feeding your pets shouldn’t be creative activities. Once you find a routine that works efficiently stick to it. It will save you time and precious brainpower.

If you are forced out of your routine try to return to it as quickly as possible. While you are out of the groove you are expending extra energy, not only dealing with the situation that has pulled you off course but at the same time compensating for the dependencies that will be affected by the changes in your routine.

For Example, if a crisis arises on a project that spills over into your evening routine time that you spend in the evening for preparing for the next day could be interrupted. You will have to compensate by either delaying the time you go to sleep in order to complete all your preparations, waking up early to allow yourself time to prepare in the morning, or by compacting either your evening or morning routines to squeeze in your prep time.

The first two options impact the amount of sleep you will be getting, another routine. This is likely to impact your performance the following day via lowered amounts of energy. The third option impacts the quality of your preparation. Tasks done in a compressed time frame are likely to be less precise than tasks allotted sufficient time. This is why it is important to return to routine as quickly as possible when an interruption occurs.

Take the time necessary to deal with the interruption completely and effectively but don’t delay your return to routine unnecessarily. If you have dealt with enough of an interruption to defer the remaining actions defer them and get back to your routine. You will shift your brain back into a lower gear and conserve your strength for the next interruption.

Routine is necessary. It gives you room to think. Establish the routines that work for you and stick to them. From time to time they will need adjustment to improve their efficiency or if your circumstances change. In the meantime, stay in the groove as much as possible. It will save your sanity.