Difference Between Habit and Routine

Key Difference – Habit vs Routine

Both habit and routine refer to regular and repeated actions in our lives. A habit is an action we do often in a regular and repeated way. Routine is a regular way of doing things in a particular order. A routine is made of several habits. The main difference between habit and routine is that habit is a recurrent, often unconscious action whereas routine is a set of habits.

What is a Habit?

Habit is something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way. This is a type of behavior that tends to occur subconsciously. According to the American Journal of Psychology (1903) a habit is “a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.”

For example, you might have noticed that some people start fidgeting or nail biting when they are nervous, but they might be totally unaware that they are doing this. Similarly, you might get up every day at a certain time and follow a series of regular actions such as drinking coffee, meditating and eating a particular food. Each of these actions can be termed as habits. Your behavior is formed by habits, and you perform them automatically, without any conscious thoughts.

It is very hard to break old habits; this is why many people have trouble breaking bad habits such as nail biting, smoking, overspending, and eating junk food. New habits can be formed through repetition although this is as difficult as breaking away from an old habit.

Difference Between Habit and Routine

Drinking coffee while working can be described as a habit.

What is a Routine?

Routine is a regular way of doing things in a particular order or a sequence of actions regularly followed. A routine is made up of different habits. It can be described as the steps or habitual actions that you follow to get a work done. For example, getting up at 5’o clock, brushing teeth, having a shower, drinking coffee, jogging, and eating cereals might be the routine you follow every day before going to work.

Since routine is made of habits, changing your routine is the best way to form new habits. Creating a routine may require attention, but once you become used to it, it becomes an unconscious or automatic sequence of actions.

When one has a routine, he or she is relieved from having to decide on when and how to do small, unimportant activities. Routine can save time and make life easy; it can also give a sense of security.

Main Difference - Habit vs Routine

What is the difference between Habit and Routine?


Habit is a recurrent, often unconscious action that is acquired through frequent repetition.

Routine is a set of customary or unchanging and often unconsciously performed activities or procedures.


Habits create a routine.

Routine is made of a set of habits.


Habits are hard to change.

Routine can be changed to form new habits.

Andrews, B. R. (1903). “Habit”. The American Journal of PsychologyUniversity of Illinois Press14 (2): 121–49. doi:10.2307/1412711ISSN 0002-9556JSTOR 141271
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