The Upside and Downside of Routines

You know that thought that can slip into your mind after a few days of monotony: “Everyday feels the same?”

It’s that overwhelming desire for something new, something fresh, something different. Yet, you can’t figure out where to turn next or how to create excitement again. Whenever this sense creeps in, I automatically turn to what I can do differently. What can I add to my schedule to spice things up. But what about my routines? Is that where I should look for a change.

Some routines are good for you, like taking medicine. But others can dull the senses. What's the difference?

Some routines are good for you, like taking medicine. But others can dull the senses. What’s the difference?

I remember when I was first conscious of a daily routine. It was at my first full-time job. I actually told a friend, “It’s good to have a routine!” I was genuinely excited that I had this schedule that would repeat on a daily basis. But, then as the days turned into weeks that excitement shifted into depression. I was stuck in my routine, and I saw no way out.

But routines aren’t bad. No one would argue that taking your medicine everyday is something to worry about. Another example, for the longest time I called myself a writer, but I never actually sat down to write. Then one day I decided that I would write 1,000 words everyday. And it worked. I now often write well over 10,000 words a week. It’s not all good. But it gets me thinking and doing what I enjoy. That’s a great routine for me. It takes about hour or two a day, but it actually helps me sleep better (based on my measurements using a sleeping app), keeps me motivated, and allows me to work towards a long-term goal (I’m writing a novel). That’s a fantastic routine for me.

The problem with my work routine was that it was the same everyday, and I never saw an end to it. I would get up, shower, have oatmeal, walk to work (lived in D.C. at the time), grabbed coffee, worked for a couple hours, had lunch, worked for a few more hours, grabbed coffee, worked for a couple more hours, went home, watched some television, maybe worked out, then went to bed. It was stifling by the end, and I couldn’t wait to escape D.C. because of it. That was a bad routine because I never scheduled a way to improve myself.

Truthfully, I’m of the belief that routines are inevitable in some ways, no matter how active of a person you may be. But that’s okay, because it’s not about falling into a routine. It’s about making sure you’re falling into routines that will improve you on a daily basis.

Some people like to get up early. Everyday, they’re up at 5:30 am, ready to walk the dog, have breakfast and start the day. I’m so jealous of this type of person. But their routine helps them get more stuff accomplished everyday. For those that get up later, they may need to work longer into the night in order to finish what they need to do. But it’s about setting a routine that will help you ensure that your later wake-up call will end up benefiting you by the time you hit your head on the pillow that night.

My writing routine helps me everyday become a more confident and efficient writer. That has been invaluable, especially when others may criticize or devalue my written words. I don’t automatically jump to ‘they’re right,’ because I have proof that they’re wrong. That’s a great routine.

So when you’re stuck in that cycle of boredom, look to your routine for ways to change what to do next. Figure out ways that you can alter it, so you can improve yourself everyday. It’s a constant balance that you will always be needing to update, but if your goal is improving yourself, you at least have the right frame of mind to set a routine that will guide you forward. And that can break you from those tedious daily customs that slow your mind.

Do you have a daily routine that you want to add to your schedule? Take the first step, by letting us know what it is in the comments below.

photo by: trekkyandy
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