ROUTINE: a course of normative, standardized actions or procedures that are followed regularly, often repetitiously.

You get up in the morning, prepare and eat breakfast, brush your teeth, dress, take the car and drive the same way to work. Routine. It is safe. It is a no-brain activity.

Those of you with children know that such a peaceful routine hardly ever exists in the morning. Child does not like the jam on the bread, wants the bread cut in small squares, shoes are missing, runny nose needs to be wiped… But a routine gets created that plans in for these unforeseen little things. So it’s still a routine.

What happens if you have to go on a training course in a different location than your workplace? What happens if your partner is on a business trip and you have to do his part of the morning routine as well and also drive the kids to school or daycare?

Little changes that can bring on a lot of stress.

Before I discovered Audiobooks, when I drove to work, my mind would already be at work. I would be thinking about what I have to do, by when etc. I would hardly notice the road. It was simply the same as every day.

Then one day, I had to drive to another location for to a training. I left too early to make sure to be on time (what with the unfamiliar itinerary and all) so I had time. And I noticed the trees, a new construction site, a field where there used to be a building, the sun shimmering through the forest…

I was much more aware of things. I was not thinking of work or of the course ahead.

I started thinking about routine and the many forms of it that we have in our lives. And whether routine is good or bad.

If a routine works because it saves you time, does it still allow you to notice things? Could there be a better, maybe even faster way of doing things but you’re so set in your ways that this possibility never even pops up? Do we stay in the routine because it’s safe? How much routine is needed? How much is good?

When I link routine to creativity, I know that you need to set up a certain routine to create. You need to have a schedule that sets the time to create. Whether what you create is good or bad doesn’t matter. You don’t wait to be in a ‘working mood’ to go to work and do your job, do you? You go and you start doing it. Creativity is the same.

However, if you are too set in routine ways, you tend to notice things less. You tend to be less open to new things and ideas ‘because that is just the way you do things’.

So here’s a few tips to try and break the routine from time to time:

  1. Brush your teeth with your non dominant hand.
  2. Drive another way to work.
  3. Go two nights in a row without television/pc.
  4. Re-arrange the location of your furniture (for a day or for longer).
  5. Get up early in the morning to watch the sun come up.
  6. Go for a walk when it’s raining.
  7. Let your child wear what HE-SHE wants to wear (whether it’s color coordinated or not).
  8. Change your hairstyle (from curly to straight or vice versa for a day).
  9. Smile at strangers.
  10. Talk to a person you would normally not even notice (the janitor, the mailman, …).
  11. Sleep on the other side of the bed for one night.
  12. In summer, spend a night in a tent in the garden with the kids. Make it an adventure.
  13. Go to see someone in person instead of writing an email.
  14. Watch a show on television which is the opposite of what you’d normally watch.
  15. Eat dessert before the meal.
  16. Eat with chopsticks for a change.
  17. Make up a story instead of reading a book to your kids.
  18. Leave the mess for a day instead of cleaning it up immediately.
  19. Treat your colleagues to croissants for no reason
  20. Learn a new skill.

Changing your routine brings new water into your pond.

It freshens you up.

Try it.