Routines can be both a blessing and a curse. I love routines for small tasks, such as, a routine for putting my makeup on or a routine for how often I work out. Yet when it comes to the bigger picture of my life on a week to week, month to month basis, I find that routines sap me of my productivity and creativity.
The other day, as I was getting ready for work, I experienced the type of heartbreaking boredom that comes with daily monotony. As I sat down in my car and turned on the engine, I realized I had done almost the exact same things every day for the last week. My daily routine was certainly keeping me organized, but at what cost? I felt tired, un-inspired, and even a little lazy. I knew I needed some more action in my life or else I was going to slip into a dreaded rut (one of those periods of time in which you feel like your life will always be exactly the same from that moment until the day you die).
Sometimes a rut can be caused by living a life that’s too busy and sometimes it can be caused by living a life that is seemingly empty. For people who have a busy job and home life, you can easily end up feeling bored and depressed because your days become so structured that you have no room to breathe. People who are unemployed or just generally less busy might make the mistake of doing the same things every day because it’s hard to imagine all the endless possibilities of life. Either way, once your routines extend from your small daily tasks to the point that they take over your entire life, you will probably have a difficult time feeling satisfied or excited.
Once you fall into a rut, your entire life will seem boring, and that makes it harder to complete daily tasks. As you become sick and tired of doing the same old things, it becomes increasingly difficult to power through the day. As a result, you may become less productive on the job or you won’t be able to make yourself focus through a creative project. You’ll also feel like you have constant déjà vu. For example, you might have the same conversations over and over, but with different people, because you have nothing new to talk about.
When you start having these types of experiences, you absolutely have to make a change. Even if it’s small. If you feel cooped up sitting at your same desk everyday, see if you can find a different place to work, like another space in your office, a nice coffee shop, or outdoors somewhere. If you feel bored when you come home from work, you can take up a new hobby or try to learn a new skill. You can learn a new language or take a trendy fitness class, which can be both fun and rewarding. If you’re sick of seeing the same people all the time, try meeting new friends at your next office party or invite someone interesting out for drinks. You can also use books and blogs as a way to refresh your mind after a particularly unmemorable day.
The most important thing you can do when you notice that your routines are taking over your life, is trust your own instincts. I’m sure at some point you’ve heard people say that you should trust your gut when it comes to other people. If you have a bad feeling about a romantic relationship or a new friend, most people will tell you to trust it and run. The same goes for your relationship with your own life. If your daily activities start to make you feel sick with boredom, trust that feeling. Take an honest moment with yourself and ask, “Why do I feel bored, lonely, frustrated, unproductive, etc?” Once you’re able to honestly pinpoint your feelings, you can come up with some ideas for change. Sometimes, changes can be scary, but if you don’t acknowledge the fact that you’re unhappy, you’ll never have a chance at turning things around.
I always say that wallowing in a rut is like being in a bad marriage with your comfort zone. Maybe you loved your comfort zone once upon a time because it made you feel warm, and happy, and safe. But, after a while, things turned boring and sour. Now, it’s time to get a divorce. If you feel like you’re at that point, go right on ahead, cut ties with the old and find something new.