Life can sometimes feel like just a string of routines that we do over and over every single day.
You hit the alarm, you get up, brush your teeth, take a shower, or do thirty minutes of exercise and THEN shower, shave, makeup, get dressed, devour a quick breakfast, and then go to work.
Once there (even if it is just to the living room, the second bedroom, or the garage), you begin another set of routines. You pull out your chair, you sit down, you fire up your latptop, tablet, or PC, and then you start sifting through the emails that piled up overnight or the ones you didn’t get to from the day before.
It’s all just a set of routines. Why do we do this? Is it because it is comforting or easy? Is it the most efficient and effective way to get through the day? Or is it just because you’ve always done it that way, so why change now?
Makes sense. But what if we shook things up a bit? What if we rethought the little tasks we do each day? What if we reinvented our routines?
What might happen? I’m not sure, but it could be an interesting experiment.
So what might this look like in practice?
Well, you could start with your morning routine.
Wake up just ten minutes earlier each day this week and see how that feels. Think of what might you do with those extra ten minutes. You know that adds up to more than one hour per week, right? That’s a lot of time. With that much extra time, you could probably read three or four more books this year. Just sayin’.
But don’t spend that time reading email or browsing social media before you get out of bed in the morning. Keep your phone in the bathroom or somewhere away from your bedside so you are not tempted. (Plus, if you use your phone as your alarm, you’ll have to get up to stop the alarm. No more snooze button.)
After you slog to the bathroom to turn off your alarm, try brushing your teeth with your less dominant hand. Feel how awkward it is at first and see if it gets a bit easier as you finish up your two minutes.
And once you’re finished with your morning hygiene and nutrition activities, take a new route to work. (Or, if you’re WFH, instead of walking, try skipping to your home office or take a step outside, stroll around the yard, come back in and then sit down at your desk.)
Just feel out these new experiences. You don’t have to do them every day, but try one of them out and see if you sense anything new. See if it sparks any new ideas or ways to solve other problems in your work or life.
Plus, you get to break out of that dull routine you might be growing tired of.
By the way, brushing your teeth with your less dominant hand is great for building body-awareness and making new neural connections in your brain. Really any activity you do with your less dominant hand will do that for you. Try eating your next meal with your less dominant hand and see how hard it is at first and then notice how it becomes a little bit easier as you progress from quickly scooping up mashed potatoes to carefully balancing green peas from plate to mouth. Want a real challenge? Try breakfast cereal with your less dominant hand. (I recommend you do it over the sink the first time.)
Even after a few meals, it will still feel uncomfortable, but it shows you that taking on new behaviors takes time to improve performance while moving toward mastery.
So what routine will you reinvent this week? How will you change some of your tried-and-true behaviors? And how will you push yourself to be more aware of these new sensations and gain new perspectives to solve future challenges?
Reinventing your routine won’t always be easy, and it might seem like a waste of time, but the insights and revelations could change the way you do everything.
Your Mindful Moment:
Changing your routines can be transformational. Just remember to be patient, be mindful, and have fun!