How To Switch Up Your Routines (That Will Change Your Life)

The Blessing Of Routine

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Do you ever feel like every day, every week is the same?

What if you could use the structure of routine to your advantage? 

When January 1 hit this year, I knew that I wanted to do something different. It took me a year to settle into my jobs and I’m glad that I gave myself that time. Throughout 2018, I didn’t try to cram my schedule. I took my time to make friends, and find my joy again while living in the city.  But now that I'd found my rhythm, I wanted more. 

I knew that I wouldn’t be able to change the fact that 5 days a week, I needed to spend several hours a day doing work for my jobs. This doesn’t mean I can’t create art on top of my jobs. It just means that I need to use my ingenuity. There were several key principles that guided me as I overhauled my routines: 

  1. Discipline is the framework on which creativity thrives. Contrary to popular belief, boundaries, limitations and budgets are actually good for creativity. 

  2. If I want to change my life, all I have to do is change my routine, and my months, my years will naturally change.  Daily and weekly habits are effective than doing something once in a while. 

With these two principles in hand, I set out to alter my routines to make me more creative: 

1) Maximize Your Calendar.

Chances are, you already use your calendar to schedule work meetings. What if you took it to a whole new level and scheduled everything  that is important. Just like I have my jobs in my calendar, I also have rest, play and creating time in my calendar. My hours are now scheduled from 5am to 9pm. I make sure that I put R&R time in my calendar. It becomes a mental sign to myself that certain evenings are for rest.

2) Make your schedule match your values.

What’s important to you? What do you need to be a thriving, joyful, productive, loving human being? If being physically active is important to your overall wellbeing, are you giving yourself the chance to work out or spend time in nature as much as you’d like?  Put it in your schedule, your soul will thank you. 

3) Cover every category.

Make sure you schedule in time for friends, family, eating, exercising, creating, learning, getting inspired, reflecting and most importantly, rest. When I first started increasing my creative hours, I felt like I was treating myself like a tyrant. I wasn’t letting myself have any fun. Eventually I learned to schedule in R&R and time for finding inspiring. My clarity on which evenings are for rest and which evenings for creating has helped me to work better and rest better! Before using my schedule like this, I would feel guilty when doing one or the other. Now I have clear delineation. 

4) Adjust your work hours to maximize your mental focus.

I was able to change my office hours to 7am - 3pm so that I could spend less energy on traffic and more on being creative. Many workplaces nowadays offer flexible hours. Even if you can’t do it everyday, going into the office early and leaving early two or three days a week will make a huge difference.  (Plus, the sunrises are gorgeous!)

5) Try something new often.

Our brains love novelty. We get a kick when our neurotransmitters are allowed to form to neuropathways. New activity wakes up dormant areas of our brains. How can you spice up your life? I was getting really sick of doing the same gym classes, so I made a point to try new classes at a different studios and instantly felt a jolt of energy. 

6) Only change 1%.

If all of this sounds daunting, consider that you only need to make a 1% change to your day, to achieve a 100% change in your life in 100 days. Or a 365% change in a year. That’s 15 minutes a day. 

7) Wake up earlier.

I started waking up at 5am. This was the first and most impactful change I made to routine. I knew that it would take me a few weeks to install this practice, but now that I have, I look forward to the sacred victory hour I have each morning! 

8) Give yourself several weeks to iron out your new routine.

It’s April as I write this and I’ve been ironing out my new daily and weekly routines since January. And I still don’t have it perfect, but I’ve made significant process. Keep tweaking your routine until you land on something that works for now. 

Let your job be the anchor of your life, and then have fun playing with the other pieces of your schedule!