Stuck in a rut? Change up your routine

Breaking away from the same-old same-old can help us break out of a monotonous spiral and inspire us to accomplish the work ahead.

Timelapse photo of a crowd of people moving quickly past each other on a road Photo: Mike Chai

Routine can be a vital part of keeping someone on track. Most people need the routine to feel a sense of accomplishment and order in their lives. Everyone has a semblance of a routine even when it’s not planned. We wake up, get dressed, brush our teeth, and go to the work/school/event that’s been pre-planned for us.

There are many upsides to having a routine, but sometimes we get stuck in a rut and tasks that used to keep us on the right track start to become mundane. Soon enough, we feel unmotivated to complete all the tasks in our routine and projects start to pile up. But a change in routine can help keep us motivated and get stuff done..

Some chores or tasks don’t need to be completed every day, and it can be exhausting if we force ourselves to constantly do them. And they often take us away from smaller, but maybe more vital tasks.


Don’t be so strict with your time

Being able to only make certain things a part of a weekly or biweekly routine, rather than a daily one, helps to take away a bit of pressure. Things like doing the laundry or going grocery shopping aren’t things you should need to do every day.

People with tight-knit routines probably set a certain time every day to get their homework or chores done. Creating a set hour to do something that you’re not looking forward to can put a damper on the day because you’re anticipating the dread you feel while doing this activity. You know that every day at a certain time you’re not going to be enjoying your time.

So, instead of scheduling a time to expect disappointment, work on completing a task when it’s necessary to do so. Don’t spend the whole day feeling resentment over the fact that you have to take out the garbage at 5pm if the bin isn’t even full yet.


Break it up

Taking breaks when needed is a vital tool for keeping the brain flowing. When I sit down and work straight for a couple of hours, I feel completely useless and, by the end, I have no brain power to continue a productive thought. I normally set a certain time for when to take a break, but then I end up thinking about the break I’ll be taking the entire time I’m working. If you only take breaks when you feel like the quantity of your work deserves one, you’ll lose the motivation to create your best work.

Take a break when you feel you need one—but don’t overdo it! Don’t forget about the work you need to get done. Also, some days need more breaks than others and that’s completely normal.


Mix it up

One way to change up your routine is to do something new occasionally—and it doesn’t have to be a big change. When feeling in a rut or a continuous loop, I like to try and find something I’ve never done before, like visit a café I’ve never been to, or walk down a different street than I normally do. This can send a boost of adrenaline to the system and wake up your mind to remember that it’s not on a continuous monotonous cycle. It can also help develop your problem-solving skills because you can adapt to situations that don’t follow the plan that was originally set in place.

It’s normal for everyone to get stuck in a lull, leading to a lack of motivation. Some days are harder to get through when you know that it will feel the same as the day before with no improvements or excitement in sight. But in lots of cases, all you need is a little initiative to make small, maybe even insignificant changes to your life to help you feel more reassured about a better tomorrow.

Change can’t be created in one day. All it takes is many small changes to create the stepping stones to a more fulfilled mindset.