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Here’s HOW to Give Your Daily Routine a Bit of Variety.

It’s been a busy week this week. But I still always make time for a bit of quiet thinking time amongst all the tasks!

Funnily enough, during one of these quiet times out walking Milo this week, I thought about the power of variety in your routine.

At thirteen (that’s 68 in human years), Milo is not the youngest dog. And so, he’s not the fastest out on a walk. On this particular morning, he was dragging his heels a little, lagging behind and generally looking like he was ready to head home. We were walking along a woodland route we frequently take in the morning.

As I call him and encourage him along with a whistle or two, I decided to cut our route short. I’m going to have to carry him home at this rate! We take a new route back as a short-cut.

All of a sudden this lethargic old boy starts charging about like a pup! The new route is invigorating for him, with plenty of new sights and smells.This got me thinking: maybe we are the same.

Ever get stuck in a rut? Feel like you’re just repeating the daily grind? Starting to feel lethargic about its predictability? Milo and I know how you’re feeling. That’s why you need to integrate variety into your daily routine.

Milo in the woods - integrate variety into your daily routine.

Not the most enthusiastic dog you’ve seen.

Why You Need Variety in Your Daily Routine.

Each one of us needs a difference balance between these two basic human needs, certainty and uncertainty. Whilst many of us think that, in fact, variety is the spice of life, this isn’t always necessarily the case.

In one study, in which people were required to pick which yoghurts they would want in the coming week, most picked a different yoghurt everyday. Yet, when it came to actually eating the yoghurts, the same people picked the same yoghurt before eating it. The conclusion seemed to be that people think they want more variety than they actually do want.

However, this is really not to say that variety is overblown or overstated. We spend so much time within our routines – the commute, the work, coming home to think about dinner, slowly falling asleep – that we hardly even notice them. But we may well notice that itchy feeling, a sense of confinement, a bit of boredom that we can’t quite put our fingers on.

And this is part of the problem with too much routine, as psychologists have pointed out. Whilst routines are super helpful in reducing the number of decisions we need to make – as they are essentially strings of habits – the problem is that they can really get us down if we don’t make an effort to change them. Once in a while at least.

In fact, if we spend our morning rushing out of the door, or our days jumping from one task to another, we miss out on important moments in our days. Moments to do nothing, at least for a moment. Moments in which we can have creative thoughts, make strange mental connections, and let go of the task at hand. These are just as important for our well-being – and productivity – as the routines and habits that we make elsewhere in our lives.

HOW to Integrate Variety into Your Routine.

So how can we reinvigorate ourselves and integrate some variety into our daily routine?

Here’s a few ideas for you…

A Change of Scene.

How many of us unconsciously walk the same route to work everyday? We are creatures of habit and we can lapse into familiar routines very easily.

Adding a little variety into your everyday routine can have a real positive effect. I’ve heard stories of people taking a different route to walk each day – or getting off the bus a few stops early. If you work from home, visiting a cafe to work for an afternoon. Or going somewhere new at the weekend for a walk or lunch.

HOW Solution: Think about what you could do to introduce a bit of variety into your days and weeks. Just start with one small change of scene and see how you feel.

Tweak the Process.

Just like we have routines in our day, we also have routines in the way that we work. We’ve all read of the creative process for artists, but this isn’t exclusive to artists. We can all tap into being creative with our ‘work process’

HOW Solution: Say you have a problem to solve at work. Rather than call a meeting to discuss it like you always would, why not try a ‘walk and talk’? Get out the office and go for a walk and discuss it. Or, say you are a list person when it comes to problem solving – why not try colourful post it notes instead?

All of this will help to put some variety into your daily routine.

‘Me Time’.

How many of us get stuck in the grind that we forget to look after ourselves? Integrating much needed ‘Me Time’ into your routine is vital. Now I’m always a fan of a long hot bath in an evening, but what about the little things you can do throughout the day too.

HOW Solution: Think about ways you can reinvigorate yourself during the day too. After a great morning of work, why not nip out for a quick walk (without looking at your phone). Or treat yourself to a nice coffee (and maybe a delicious lunch) from your favourite cafe and have some time away from the desk to enjoy it.

Your Task this Week.

  • Incorporate little changes to your routine
  • Make tweaks to the standard way you do things. Be creative.
  • Integrate little reinvigorating mini-‘Me Time’ into your day.

Give it a try this week!

This Week’s Insights:

The Forgotten Benefits of Taking a Break

Why You Should Reward Yourself. (It’s All about Habit Formation.)