The Difference Between Routines and Habits Plus Which Is Right For You

So many people interchange the words routines and habits as if they are the same. They are not the same and in this episode of the Routine and Things Podcast I’m sharing the distinct differences between the two. If you’re thinking of starting either one, this episode will help you decide which is right for you. Tune in! 
Word for Word

Ashley Brown 0:00 [Intro]
Routines are my absolute favorite word, but you either love them or you're working on getting there. And either way, I strongly believe routines can be a springboard for improving your home, yourself and your life. I'm Ashley Brown. And this is the routine and things podcast. And each episode, I'll share practical tips and simple ways for you to consistently live your happiest life, one routine at a time. Trust me, you're gonna want to keep listening, because you're well on your way to getting and staying happy.

Ashley Brown 0:46
Before we get into today's episode, have you ever wondered which routine is the best for you to start right now, if you are unsure of which routine will best meet the needs of your home and life at this very moment, you now have a way to find out. I've created for you a very simple and free routine assessment that will help you identify which routine you really need most right now, to take this quick assessment that will point you in the right direction and get you started with the right routine. Click the link in the show notes or head to All right, let's go ahead and get into today's episode.

Ashley Brown 1:23
Hey, hey, welcome back for another episode of the routine and things podcast Hey, girl, what's up? How are you fill in today, we're going to be talking about the difference between routines and habits plus, which is right for you. I wanted to talk about this today because it's important to know the difference. I think that these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. And even though I think that we know that there's a difference, I don't know if we're really sure about what the difference is. And I think that's really important when you're trying to decide which is right for you. Should you form a habit? Should you start a routine which one and I think that this episode is really going to be helpful in you making the best decision for your life at this time. Because each has its pros, right. Each can be really really beneficial for your life.

Ashley Brown 2:14
However you really want to get clear on which one really makes the most sense for you. Which one makes the most sense for you? Which one makes the most sense for your life? Is it a habit? Is it a routine? so let's go ahead and get into the major differences between the two and I'm gonna start with habits even before I get into this though, as you know, I am a huge advocate for routines of course this is routine and things podcast I'm the owner of routine and things however there is beauty in habits as well and I'm not here to shun habits I think that habits are awesome I just think that it's really important that we get clear on which on what they are in which is most needed for your life. So I just wanted to put that out there are major differences.

Ashley Brown 2:57
Let's get into it for these two let's start with habits so one: habits are unconscious, they are really built or just maintained often muscle and mind memory and really muscle memory of course like your mind as well but like their automatic habits are automatic you're not thinking when you're doing a habit. It's like I have a really unhealthy habit of biting my nails that comes up like every few months I'm like I'll stop for like a good like six months, nine months and next thing you know he goes a habit coming on back um, which is super annoying for me. So they are just like second nature before you know what you're doing that habit you don't even realize you're doing that habit what that is started back or that you're doing it. It's like there's so automatic they're so programmed in your brain, you're not thinking on a conscious level when you're doing a habit. That's how deeply in the subconscious habits are.

Ashley Brown 3:53
And so that's one big difference between habits and routines because routines aren't unconscious routines require conscious thought you have to think to do a routine it doesn't come second nature now it can start to feel it can become familiar it can also become overtime second nature if it's a super simple routine. However in the beginning routines are more so you you have to think about it's like oh let me go in the kitchen and clean let me go into kitchen and cook, let me go do the laundry. It is a still a thought to go and start it to start the routine. But that's not the case with that habit. With a habit, you're just starting. You don't realize for example, when you get up in the morning, and if you do brush your teeth and wash your face in the morning you either do one first and the other second. I know for me, I typically will wash my face and then brush my teeth. That's me, right. You may do the opposite. You may brush your teeth and wash your face but like that's very habitual. You're not really thinking about it's like you're just pulling out the washcloth washing your face and you've got the toothbrush, toothpaste. You end up brushing your teeth.

Ashley Brown 4:57
You look over you're like oh I'm done. You didn't even realize because it's so habitual for you. So habits are unconscious, they don't require a lot of thought they are automatic, whereas routines require thought and they are not automatic, you need to still think to do your routine. Okay? So that's a big difference between habits and routines. And there is pros to having a habit that is unconscious that you don't have to think about. But here's the thing it takes time to get there, it takes time to create or form a habit, it takes time to get for a habit to actually become habitual. I mean time, if you really think about the habits that you have in your life, maybe you have a habit of drinking water, like you just next thing you know, you have a cup of water up to your face, you don't even realize you picked it up and started drinking, maybe you have a habit of like I said, washing your face first and brushing your teeth, that took a great amount of time to get to that point, it didn't happen overnight.

Ashley Brown 6:00
It either took many months or years, typically years for it to become really, really habitual, unless you have been doing unless it's like a daily habit. And that takes time, it takes time to form a habit, where as routines, it doesn't take long for you to establish a routine, it can take weeks, it may take a few months, but it doesn't take you as long to establish a routine in your life. And so that's like a really big difference with habits and routines. Another big difference with habits and routines, let's start with habits habits are rigid, they have to be. They must be rigid in order to form one, if you're going to form a habit, it has to be rigid. And typically, it's like one thing that you're focused on. And it's a rigid one thing, like if you're really trying to get into the habit of drinking water, and I keep bringing this up, because that's what I'm I'm in that I'm in that boat. I'm like really trying to make drinking water a habit, because I don't have a really huge thirst.

Ashley Brown 6:59
My thirst mechanism is not, I don't know, it's just not great. So like my body does not say I need to drink water where I feel super thirsty. And so I'm really trying to get into the habit of like, anytime, like when I look at the bottle of water, I drink it. So I can start to get into the habit of drinking more water because I want to stay hydrated in my life, that's super important for just the health of my body and well being. So habits must be rigid, they have to be rigid, you're doing that one thing, and that's what you're doing, you're not doing anything else, you're focused on that one thing and no flexibility to them, you're not gonna get flexible, what habits No, however, routines do allow you to be flexible routines can be rigid, or they can also be flexible, which is a beautiful thing. Because that means that a routine can cater to the needs of different people and cater to the needs of different seasons that you're in.

Ashley Brown 7:50
So if you need to adjust a routine or revamp a routine you can, depending on what season of life you're in, depending on what you need, in terms of what type of person who you are like you can adjust the routine to fit you to fit the needs of your life in any given season. And so that's a beautiful thing about routines is that they can be adjusted, they can be revamped, they can be flexible, because for some of us in certain seasons of life, we need more so of a routine because our lives are changing constantly, especially like if you have kids and my girls are three and five, and they are changing constantly what they need changes constantly. And so me being able to adjust their routines is really important as they continue to grow in life, adjust my routines to them as they continue to grow in life. Like that's really important.

Ashley Brown 8:40
I wouldn't want to create a certain habit if I know that they are attached to that habit and if they grow or change in a certain way now like okay, what was the point of that? Now I have to change the habit. A routine is much more flexible. And so that's a really major difference as well. Another thing about habits that I want to point out which are different than routines, and this kind of goes to what I was just talking about is habits aren't easy to break, which has its pros and cons, right? Depending if you create a healthy habit and that has its pros and it's not easy to break. But when you get an unhealthy habit or a habit that you're like no I wish I didn't have this habit and it's become a habit it's not as easy to break however routines can be easily adjusted a routine can be changed, which is awesome because if you find yourself in an unhealthy routine, you can get yourself out of that unhealthy routine easier than if it was a habit that you had, right? Trying to break an unhealthy habit takes work I mean conscious work to break an unhealthy habit.

Ashley Brown 9:50
I was just sharing with you about me biting my nails that takes conscious work for me to not bite my nails because it's so habitual however a routine can be easily changed. If you're in a routine right now that you're like, oh my gosh, like, we can't ever make it out the door in time, you can create a routine that swaps out the unhealthy routine that you have now replaced it with a healthy routine. And you can start that healthy routine today, tomorrow. So that's a big difference as wel when it comes to habits versus routines. Do you see the difference? And this was really important for me to point out because I want for you to understand if you need a habit or a routine or if you want a habit versus a routine. And here's how you can decide which one is right for you to start. Okay, I'm gonna give you two things to think about. If you're like, oh, do I really want it to be a habit? Or do I really want to have a routine? The first thing you want to do is think about what goal do you have?

Ashley Brown 10:52
Anytime you're about to start a habit or a routine, you have a goal in mind? What is that goal? Do you have the goal of wanting to be more present with your kids? Or wanting to read more? Or wanting to eat more nutritious meals? What is the goal that you have? And does the goal require multiple steps to reach that outcome? That's something that you can think about. Because if you know, right, for example, you may have the goal of cooking more at home, that could be a goal, you have this year, I want to cook more at home, I want to cook more nutritious meals at home. If you know that cooking requires multiple steps, then you already can cancel out a habit starting a habit, you need more of a routine more of a cooking routine established, then you need a habit. So first, you want to think about what is your goal? Does your goal require multiple steps? Or can you reach that goal without multiple steps. So for example, maybe your goal is to be more present with your kids is something that stops you from doing that is you're always on your phone.

Ashley Brown 12:03
Well, a habit that you could put into place could be, I am going to put my phone away as soon as the kids get home from school. I'm gonna go put my phone on the kitchen counter face down, that could be a habit, every time they come home, you do that and you start that habit. So think about what goal Do you have? And does it require multiple steps to reach that goal? Or does it require just one thing that you need to do? And that can kind of help you to understand if you really want to start a habit or routine? That's first and foremost. Secondly, you want to think about does your life require more flexibility? Does the season of life that you're in require you to be more flexible, requires things that are more adjustable? Because if so then a routine actually may be more beneficial for you. Because you know that your schedule changes frequently, you know that life looks different from time to time throughout the year.

Ashley Brown 13:06
And so maybe it's like, okay, I want to actually start a routine rather than trying to create a habit because I need for this routine to be adjustable. I need for the certain steps that I'm taking to be adjusted, for example. So maybe right now you are pregnant, and you're like, Okay, I want to start exercising, okay, and you start exercising, and you know, at a certain point, you're going to have the baby, maybe it's not important for you to start a habit, maybe it's really important for you to start a routine exercise routine that can be adjusted once you have that baby, because your exercise routine will need to be addressed after you have the baby, right? So think about what season of life you're in and do you need more flexibility in this season of life. And that will lead you more so towards starting and implementing a routine. So those are the huge differences. And that's how you can decide which routine is or not which routine is right for you.

Ashley Brown 14:00
But that's how you can decide if a routine or habit is right for you. Because I want you to be very clear on this. Both and this is what I want to share too. Each of these a routine and a habit requires a level of consistency and commitment to the process each. Now a habit requires a little bit more consistency and truly commitment. Because if you're trying to get an action to be unconscious, to not require any type of thinking, that's gonna take a huge level of consistency and commitment versus a routine. It doesn't require that much because you're not trying to get it to a subconscious level. You just want to have actions and steps in place that help you to meet a goal consistently or to fulfill a desire or to solve a problem consistently. So what feels the most realistic, the most manageable for you right now in this season of life. Okay, so that's what I wanted to talk about today. Hopefully that was helpful to hear the difference. Do you need a routine right now? Or would you like to start a habit right now? If your answer is a routine, I want you to start by grabbing the free routine assessment linked in the show notes. This assessment will help you to decide which routine is right for you right now.

Ashley Brown 15:15
Okay, it's gonna go through five routine categories. And then you'll be able to know which category or categories you might need to work on, you're going to choose one category to focus on and then get specific with which routine within that category you are going to focus on. It's a really great assessment of really great starting place for you. So you can grab that in the show notes. But I hope that this was helpful. Be sure to rate and review the show. Give it some love, especially if you really enjoy listening. I love talking with you. I love recording these podcasts episodes is just so much fun for me. And so hopefully you're getting a lot out of the podcast. So if so please share that with me, I would love to hear I read the reviews. And many times I will share them in an email. And I actually may start getting back to join us some love and give our listeners some love. Because I just really really appreciate you listening and being part of the routine things family so appreciate it. Until next time, continue to enjoy wherever you are, whatever you're doing, stay happy girl and I will talk to you next week.

Ashley Brown 16:23 [Outro]
Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed today's episode, take a screenshot and share it on social I would love to know you're listening. And for tools to help you start maintain and enjoy your routines. Be sure to head to Here's to staying happy

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