Routine vs. habit: Are routines and habits the same thing?

When it comes to developing good habits, there is a lot of debate about what works best: routines or rituals.

Routines are great for providing structure and ensuring that you stick to your goals. On the other hand, habits are more flexible and easier to maintain.

They don’t require as much planning or effort as routines, making them less likely to fall by the wayside when life gets busy. So, routine vs. habit, which is better? Let’s find out.

What is a routine?

A routine is a set of behaviors or tasks that are regularly done in the same order or way. Routines can be helpful because they provide a sense of structure and can make it easier to complete tasks or achieve goals. However, routines can also become monotonous and boring if they are not varied occasionally.

What is a habit

What is a habit?

A habit is a repeated behavior that’s typically done without much thought. It’s often automatic, like brushing your teeth or making your bed in the morning.

Habits are generally learned through repetition and can be challenging to break. Once a habit is formed, it can be hard to change. But it’s not impossible—effort and perseverance can break any habit.

Are routines and habits the same thing?

There is a common misconception that routines and habits are the same things. This is not the case. A routine is a series of actions carried out in the same order and at the same time each day. On the other hand, a habit is an automatic behavior done without thought or conscious effort. Habits are automatic behaviors that are triggered by specific cues.

Unlike routines, which are often consciously chosen, habits are usually unconscious and may be difficult to change. Habits can be helpful because they save mental energy and allow us to do things without overthinking. However, habits can also be detrimental if they are harmful (e.g., smoking) or interfere with our ability to do new things (e.g., procrastination).

Routines can help keep track of essential tasks that need to be completed daily. However, routines can also be inflexible and difficult to stick to. On the other hand, habits are much easier to maintain as they do not require conscious effort or planning.

So, which is better? Neither! Both routines and habits have their advantages and disadvantages. It ultimately depends on what works better for you and your lifestyle.

Difference between habit and routine

When developing good habits, there needs to be more clarity between a habit and a routine. A routine is a set of actions you regularly perform, usually at set times. A habit, on the other hand, is a behavior that becomes automatic after being routinely performed for some time. In other words, a habit is something you do without thinking about it.

There are several critical differences between habits and routines:

1. Routines are often more rigid and structured than habits. They typically involve performing the same actions at the same time each day. On the other hand, habits can be more flexible and occur at any time throughout the day.

2. Routines are often started to form a new habit. However, this isn’t always the case – sometimes, people develop routines out of necessity or convenience. Practices, on the other hand, are always started to make them into long-term behaviors.

3. Routines can help develop new habits, but they are unnecessary for every habit-formation process. Some people can create new patterns simply by consistently performing the desired behavior (without following any set routine).

4. Routines can be dropped or changed anytime – no real commitment is involved in maintaining a routine. Habits, on the other hand, require consistency and effort to change or break any regulation.

Habits and routines examples

Here are some examples of healthy habits and routines:

Habit: drinking eight glasses of water per day

Routine: going for a 30-minute walk every day

Habit: eating a nutritious breakfast every morning

Routine: taking a multivitamin every day

Habit: brushing your teeth twice a day

Routine: flossing once a day

The benefits of having a routine

The benefits of having a routine

When developing good habits, many people swear by the power of routines. A routine is a set of actions you regularly perform in a particular order. Habits, on the other hand, are behaviors that become automatic over time.

Both routines and habits can help help you stick to good behaviors. However, some specific benefits come with having a routine.

One of the most significant advantages of having a routine is that it provides a structure for your day. This can be especially helpful if trying to develop new or break old habits. Having a set time for each activity can make it easier to stick to your goals.

Another benefit of routines is that they can help you save time. Once you have a routine, you won’t waste time thinking about what to do next. This can free up your brain’s power to focus on other things.

Routines can also make it easier to stick to healthy behaviors. You’re more likely to do it when you have a specific exercise or healthy eating time. And, if you have a bad habit you’re trying to break, a routine can help by providing daily reminders to stay on track.

The benefits of having a habit

When it comes to developing good habits, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, some benefits come with having a habit.

For one, habits can help to make us more productive. They give us a sense of structure and order in our lives, which makes it easier to get things done. Also, habits can help us to form positive behaviors that we might not otherwise develop.

Habits can also help us to stick to our goals. Staying focused on what we want to achieve is easier when we have a plan and a routine. Also, habits can help us overcome procrastination and laziness by creating a sense of discipline.

Finally, habits can improve our mental and physical health. Studies have shown that people who develop healthy habits are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. Furthermore, healthy habits can improve physical health, including better sleep and reduced stress levels.

How to develop healthy routines and habits?

When it comes to developing healthier routines and habits, baby steps are essential. Trying to overhaul your entire lifestyle all at once will likely lead to frustration and failure. Instead, focus on making one small change at a time. Once that change becomes part of your daily routine, you can move on to the following. And before you know it, you will have developed many healthy habits!

Here are some tips for developing healthy routines and habits:

1. Set realistic goals

Trying to lose 20 pounds in a month will probably not happen and will likely set you up for disappointment. However, losing 1-2 pounds per week is much more achievable and will help you reach your long-term goals.

2. Make a plan

Once you have set your goals, make a plan for how you are going to achieve them. This might involve mapping out a workout routine or creating a meal plan with healthy foods you enjoy eating. Having a plan makes it more likely that you will stick with your new routine or habit.

3. Start small

As we mentioned, making too many changes at once will likely lead to failure. So start small! If you want to eat healthier, add one new fruit or vegetable daily.

Habit vs. routine vs. ritual

When creating healthy lifestyle habits, it’s essential to understand the difference between routines, habits, and rituals. A routine is a series of activities you regularly do in a particular order. Habits are behaviors that you’ve learned and repeat automatically. Rituals are meaningful behaviors that you periodically perform with intention.

Here’s a closer look at each:

Routines are primarily about logistics. You develop routines to make your life run more smoothly. For example, you might have a daily habit of waking up at 6 am, showering, eating breakfast, and then heading to work.

Or, you might have a bedtime routine of brushing your teeth, reading for 20 minutes, and then going to sleep. Routines can be helpful because they take the guesswork out of decision-making and help you use your time more efficiently. However, routines can also be restrictive and lead to burnout if they must be balanced with downtime and flexibility.

Habits are behaviors that you’ve learned and repeat automatically. Most habits are acquired through repeated exposure and reinforcement (rewards or punishments). For example, you might have developed the habit of checking your phone as soon as you wake up because it feels good to see those likes on your Instagram post from last night. Or, you might have started smoking cigarettes because it helps you relax after a long day at work. Once habits are established, they often continue.


Ultimately, both routines and habits have their pros and cons. Habits provide a sense of consistency that can help us stay organized, while routines give us the flexibility to make changes when necessary.

Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preferences and lifestyle; what works for one person may not work for another. Whatever you decide on, be sure to stick with it so that you can create positive lasting changes in your life!

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I turn my routine into habits?

You can do a few things if you want to turn your routine into habits. First, start by identifying the activities that you want to turn into habits. Then, plan how often you will do these activities and when you will do them.

Once you have a plan, stick to it as best as possible. If you need help to keep up with your plan, make adjustments. Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up here and there. Just get back on track and keep going.