Most of us have pretty consistent routines. We wake up at a similar time each day, eat the same thing for breakfast, go to work, answer email and follow a similar pattern each day. And this a good thing. Routine helps us to be more efficient and build productive habits. But every now and then, it’s important to break out of your routine. Here’s why…
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Why routine is a good thing
First off, I want to emphasise that having a routine in your life is a good thing. Routines help us to build habits that support productivity and personal growth. For example, getting up each morning and going to the gym is easier when you repeat the behaviour each week.
When you build a habit or routine, you don’t have to think as much. By following a routine and going into “auto-pilot” you can save mental energy for difficult work later on.
When you’re in a routine, time passes by even faster. This is because you’re having fewer new experiences each day and your brain isn’t creating as many new memories. When you take time off for a few days or a week, the time goes by much slower because your brain has to process these new experiences.
So routine is a good thing if you want to have more consistency and efficiency in your life.
Why you should break routine every now and then
The issue with routine is that when you do the same thing day in and day out and time passes by even faster, life gets boring. It often means you’re not being challenged or doing new things that can help us to grow even more.
This is why we often set goals at the start/end of the year. As well as being a reset on the calendar, it’s a time when a lot of people take a break from their normal work or school routine and can spend some time thinking about what they’d like to do differently or achieve next year.
When you follow a strict routine, there isn’t time to stop and step back to think about the big picture.
It’s also nice when you break routine to slow down and enjoy life without being restricted by your normal routine.
Last week we were away from home for a few days at a friends wedding. Normally, the time would fly by. But because we’d broken routine, those few days went much slower and it was so nice to be able to enjoy the day without it flying by.
As I said before, when you follow a routine, your brain isn’t creating as many new memories. If you were to think back to what you did on a normal day 3 months ago, you probably wouldn’t remember. But if I ask you what you did on your last holiday, you’d probably be able to tell me even if it was a few years ago. These moments are more memorable because they’re not part of your normal routine which makes them more significant.
How to break routine more often
So, if you want to have more memorable experiences or more time to step back and plan your future, you need to break from your routine.
This could be taking a weekend off every now and then to get away and unwind. Putting yourself in a different environment is a great way to break routine and get into a fresh headspace.
Even at work, you can break routine by taking a day once a month to step back from your normal work and instead plan, strategise and think about the big picture with your colleagues. Companies do this all the time when they go on retreats so they can break from routine and think about the long-term direction of the organisation.
Following the same routine, each day is easier and breaking from routine allows us to turn off the auto-pilot and fly manually for a bit. It takes more effort but it’s exactly what we need to create change, challenge ourselves and to keep life exciting.