Image courtesy of SwittersB
Sometimes, we can feel as though we’re stuck in a rut. The daily routine of work, chores, and family begins to become very “samey”. Perhaps we stop at the same coffee shop each morning, grab lunch from the same outlet each day, and invariably spend the evening slumped in front of the tv or computer.
If you’re trying to get inspired – whether for a creative project, or simply towards life change – a routine can actively work against you. Your mind is comfortable with the small bit of world that you see each day, and you never challenge yourself to go beyond your comfort zone.
Here are some simple ways to take small steps outside your usual routine, to dip your toe into the bigger world beyond the wake-work-home-sleep model, to expand your horizons and get inspired…
Take a Different Route to Work
Do you travel to work (or college, or your kids’ school, etc) every day? My bet is you always take the same route – and you probably feel quite put out if you have to divert to a different one. Once a week, why not set off ten minutes earlier and take a different route? Walk down a street you’ve never been through before, or stop off for coffee in a different part of town.
This is a very easy way to give yourself new input from the world: new sights, sounds, perhaps new people to meet along the way. If you’re lucky, you might even find that your new route is better than the old one!
Another way to mix up your commute is to try a different form of transport. If you usually take the train, can you get the bus instead? (It’s often cheaper.) If you normally drive alone, how about carpooling? You’ll save money and have someone to chat to on the way.
Ask a Friend to Recommend a Book
Most of us are quite conservative in our reading habits. Perhaps we only read crime novels, or wouldn’t touch science-fiction with a barge-pole. Maybe we think “literature” is all boring and worthy, or conversely, that “commercial” fiction is trash. Or, we only read non-fiction, or would never dream of picking up a book of poetry.
Ask a friend or colleague to recommend one of their favourite books – ideally, something that changed the way they think, or that they’ve read time and time again. Get hold of a copy and read it. You might be surprised how it sparks new ideas, or opens your mind to a new way of thinking.
Do Something Different in the Evenings
Are your evenings packed with emails and chores? Or, do you spend the evening hours drifting around the house aimlessly, watching television and pretty much filling time until you go to bed? Neither is especially healthy.
Why not go out on a weeknight, for a change? This can make your evening into an event – you’ll go to bed feeling satisfied that you’ve done something interesting and enjoyable. If your weekends are busy with family obligations, going out on a weekday evening can be a great way to do some things out of your usual routine: perhaps a trip to the theatre, to a gallery, or even a museum.
Take a Day Off
One of the most powerful ways to break out of a rut is to take a whole day off. If you don’t have any leave left at work, use a Saturday or Sunday. Cancel all your usual activities and obligations, and give yourself permission to do anything you want with the day. Go for a long, solitary walk; write poetry; go shopping; read a whole blockbuster novel; lie in the grass and gaze at the clouds…
If you’re one of the many people who find it almost impossible to identify what you actually want to do, that’s a good place to start. Write a list of things you might like to do, see, or achieve. Can you do any of them in a day? If you’re really stuck for ideas, try rolling a dice or flipping a coin. What you do doesn’t matter so much as the fact that you do do something!
Have you ever felt stuck in a rut? Do you follow the same routine, day in, day out? What small changes could you make?