You Gotta Have Rhythm, Baby.

Rhythm Over Routine
{ via Erkka P on Flickr }


Routine. It’s the domain of the successful, the organised, the on-time. It’s what You Should Be Doing. Right?

But do you know what else routine is? It’s restrictive, it’s unfriendly, it’s regimented.

Rhythm, on the other hand, speaks to you. It moves you, it moves with you, it feels good.

And on the face of it, there isn’t much difference between the two. Both help you get things done, both deliver guidelines on what needs to happen and when.

The differences though, while small, are really important. And if you’re looking to create a simpler life with less stress, then… ¬†you gotta have rhythm, baby.

Rhythm Over Routine.

After the arrival of Isla a few years ago, Sparky and I were determined to establish a routine, get her sleeping pattern regulated and create comfort and predictability for everyone involved.

As it turns out, newborn babies don’t really work like that.

In fact, life doesn’t really work like that.

It took us well over 12 months to learn that routine – a strict, sequential approach to our days – was less than helpful. It made us feel we were failing if we missed a step or fell behind.

Rhythm, however, was a much friendlier notion. It spoke of order, but also flexibility and movement and fluidity. It even sounded friendlier.


Rhythm moves you. You dance to it, find your groove, let go a little, enjoy the moment and see where it takes you.

Routine? Not so much.

You march to routine. It’s a steady metronome keeping time. And if you sway, if you linger, if you move out of order or fail to complete a step, then you fail. You’re out of time. You’re lagging behind.

Rhythm allows change and flexibility for different seasons in life. Which is why rhythm wins out over routine every day.

Embracing Rhythm

To embrace this idea, you need to ask yourself some questions about the rhythm you’re creating. You could create a rhythm for your mornings, evenings, weeks, seasons or even holidays.

Choose a rhythm and ask yourself:

What are your priorities? Perhaps it’s exercising before breakfast, or taking the time to eat dinner as a family every night?

What do other people in your home need? Does your husband need time to study? Or perhaps your school-age kids need to pack their bags the night before?

What feels positive to you? What makes you feel vital and happy and energetic? Make this a priority.

What can change from the current situation? You can always get up earlier or go to bed later if needed. Similarly, if you spend a lot of time on the computer at night you can reduce that time and spend it on something else.

What can’t change – no matter how much you’d like it to? School times, bus and train timetables, meetings and appointments can’t change. Make sure you work these into your rhythm and allow some wiggle-room for the inevitable delay.

Once you’ve answered these questions, take some time to work out your best rhythm. Literally write it down on a piece of paper, establish a sequence and then bring it in to your day.

Once it’s there, you simply let your day unfold around it.

And the best thing? There’s no need to keep up a rapid tempo if it’s the season for a slower tune. Similarly, if you feel the urge for dancing, for growth, for expansion, then up the tempo and dance for your life. Always know that it’s your rhythm and you choose the pace. You choose the moves.

7 Responses to You Gotta Have Rhythm, Baby.

  1. Thank you for a new concept!
    I’ve been strugling with my aversions against routine for years cause routines are supposed to be good for you (not to mention the kids…) but it’s just not right for me. Rythm, on th other hand, really appeals to me. Freer, happier, a way to live. :-)

  2. This just makes sense. I have been a routine person forever and I always feel like I am failing and can’t keep up. With two kids (2 and 1) and a hubby back in school…routine doesn’t work anymore. I like the concept of rhythm and the questions you ask especially about what is important to me, the priority. Thanks!

  3. This post really strikes a cord with me and I’ll definitely be sharing it on my blog. I have felt the same way as you do but never did I put it in such a beautiful and logical way that you did. There is a difference and as you said, though small, it is important to note. And the truth is, routine is boring because it doesn’t have that flexibility, that welcoming of “life happens” which rythm does. Really great post! I’m new to your blog and I’m a minimalist as well. So I love everything you have to say. Cheers to ya!

  4. I found this post through another blog and I wanted to thank you for this idea. It feels much more natural to create a rhythm, which seems much more flexible and free flowing; rather than a routine, which is so obvious when it is out of sync.