Time For A Routine

“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”

–WH Auden


TASK AT HAND: This week I’m thinking about routines. Stereotypical movements, rhythmical thoughts, and choreographed actions that we employ without second thought. Sometimes blamed for lacking in creativity for the sake of productivity, routines get an unfair share of criticism. Properly employed, routines can successfully support our strategies and objectives. Below are 3 key benefits of routines.

“Properly employed, routines can successfully support our strategies and objectives.”

1. Routines minimize cognitive burden. I have talked about cognitive burden before (Sunday Surgical Scrub from 12 June 2016, you can find the original post here). Cognitive load refers to the total amount of mental effort being used in the working memory. Cognitive burden can be thought of as an excess load on our mental effort. You can minimize undue burden by employing routines. For example, email has immense potential to overwhelm our cognitive load; however, by developing a routine to manage your messages, you can efficiently meet priorities without becoming a slave to your inbox.

2. You are what you repeatedly do. Your routines speak volumes about who you are. Routines describe what you commonly do. When looking for change, don’t start with a long shot. Change a routine and build a process to achieve your goal. Are you trying to improve your physical strength? I would forego the goal to bench a new Olympic record. Instead, create a routine where, for example, you incorporate weight training on certain gym days. Simple modifications to routines can transform major behaviors.

“Simple modifications to routines can transform major behaviors.”

3. Routine = Consistency. Having a routine can improve the consistent performance of physical and mental tasks. For example, a basketball player will bounce the ball several times before attempting a free throw. He or she uses this routine as a method of preparation to improve the chances of making the basket. When I’m performing scleral buckle procedures for retinal detachments, I always re-grasp the needle before making a scleral pass. This simple routine reminds me to focus on the exact depth I want to place the needle: too shallow, and the suture will not hold but, too deep, and I will perforate the eye. Both are negative scenarios I need to avoid. This simple routine helps me achieve consistent placement of the suture.

Optimize your routines as a means of process improvement. Life will throw you distractions like travel and sickness with the potential of upending your abilities. Use routines to remain focused on your core ambitions.


MEDICINE & MACULA: Throwback to 2012 when we published our case, Ophthalmic artery occlusion secondary to fat emboli after cosmetic nasal injection of autologous fat. This was published in the journal RETINA (you can find the study here) and is the case of a patient who lost all vision after undergoing cosmetic nasal fat injection. The striking color fundus photograph shows fat emboli that occluded the ophthalmic artery.

A stark reminder that all procedures, even benign elective ones, have the potential for profound complication.


GRATIS: “The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.” -Mike Murdock


My best to you,

David Almeida


One Comment, RSS

  1. ana sanka March 27, 2017 @ 1:55 pm

    There is nothing else to add to this fabulous article. I have to agree with you, Dr, David Almeida, to remember and think about the routine also, to improve myself in order to keep my health in shape. It is a pleasure to read all your writings because I always learn something from you. For that I thank you and keep yourself well.
    My regards


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