I have always been a fan of schedules. There were manic days in my teens when I would try to schedule my life down to 15-minute increments. Oh, yeah, I was able to stick to that, riiight.
Following my hyper-scheduled phase was a time of complete disorganization and rebellion against slotting time for anything. It was brief.
Over the years, I've experimented with many systems, and read a lot of books, and am very near to something that suits me. That was key: I figured and played and worked and juggled until I developed somthing uniquely mine. I tried a bit of everything until I had what I wanted.
For me, routine isn't just about getting more done (though I do), or staying organized (though I am, more or less); it's also about staying happy. An organized morning is a stress-free morning. Knowing what I'm doing next saves me from boredom and my old enemy: depression. I'm not exaggerating when I say that routine helps me cope with the world.
My routines do not dictate my days, but rather they punctuate them. They are not made out of whole cloth--they began with a seed and developed. For example, I knew I would be happier in the mornings if I showered at night. There's the seed. Then I thought it would be nice if I had a valet hook and put my clothes out. Eventually, I had my time alloted from bed to door, saving me a lot of grief. When I got married, any established routine was adjusted and honed, until Bill and I had a nice, regular, morning groove, where we each knew where we needed to be to get out the door on time, without rushing. I never listed my morning routine (who reads at 5:30am?), but rather practiced it into being.
When I get to work is another matter. There are about seven things I need to do every morning, from checking backups to checking email. I put them in an order that felt easy to work with, wrote them on a small post-it, and stuck it on the side of my monitor. It's developed and changed, but it's still what I use every singe morning so there's no "what do I do next", and none of my daily chores gets forgotten.
I have a couple more small routines stuffed in the day like bookmarks, keeping me at the right place, making sure I get enough sleep and eat a decent dinner. What they give me the most of is comfort. My fairly structured life is easy to lean on, easy to trust. It's there for me to return to when I have special things to do that are off the path I've beaten. My rut is a cornerstone of my sanity.