I really enjoy regularly changing my routine. Things like what I eat for breakfast, what time I leave for the office, what time I head home from the office, etc. There is some comfort in doing the same thing almost every day, and some routines I rarely change (such as washing my face and brushing my teeth when I wake up), but the vast majority of my routine actions I find myself reviewing and experimentally changing on a regular basis.
In the past, I would try to start a routine, and do well for a time, but then eventually that routine would break down and I would feel guilty about it. Now, I embrace that change is inevitable, and that trying to do the same exercises or whatever every day is just going to lead to boredom and failure to keep the routine.
For example, the time I leave for the office is often at the mercy of a number of factors, but I like to see how long it will take given a wide range of departure times. A lot of other factors come into play, such as if it’s summer time or a holiday, but in general I can begin to see the “bell curve” that is traffic levels versus time (or for you probability nerds out there, the approximately Gaussian distribution). Then I usually switch between leaving before the peak of that bell curve, and after it. When I leave before, I feel great for getting into the office early, as I can get a head start on my work that day, with fewer distractions at the office. When I leave later, that allows me to get a lot of good stuff done at home, such as writing a blog post.
I know you may not have the luxury of arriving at work within a wide range of times, but this is just an example of how changing your routine can lead to a good sense of how different actions will affect your day. Here are some other examples, which will apply even if your work schedule is set in stone:
– What time you wake up
– When and what you have for breakfast (and if you eat breakfast)
– When and if you exercise (and the major decision of whether or not to exercise before or after work – I recommend before)
– What exercises you do at the gym or outside of the gym
– When and what you have for lunch (and if you eat lunch)
– When and what you have for dinner (and if you eat dinner)
– What routes you take if you drive to work
– How much TV you watch
– What time you go to bed
I recommend going through this list and perhaps making your own list of routine actions. Consider what you can change and try changing it, even if it’s only for a day. If that change improves things, or at least makes things more interesting and provides a nice change of pace, maybe you can add that to your repertoire.
One example of a change that may seem unthinkable to you now: skipping a meal. I used to think that fasting was only for hippies and people doing it for religious reasons, but I have read some really good content about the benefits of fasting. Sometimes I will try to fast through a meal if I feel like I need to reduce my calorie intake, such as when I’m on a road trip and not exercising much. Especially if I get the feeling that I am busy enough that I won’t even notice that I skipped the meal. Those are great opportunities to fast.
You don’t have to fast, but this is just an example of how even the routines that initially seem unchangeable can also be changed. Consider this as you review your routines, and don’t be afraid to try very different actions on a daily basis.