5 Ways to Give Your Daily Routine a JoltBy Steve Calechman
The idea of a "routine" carries with it some resignation. It sounds safe, conventional, and often boring, but it's useful. It gives each day structure, letting you know what to expect and focus on at any given moment. That predictability and order remove stress. "You feel like you have a sense of control, that you can solve things and bring them to a conclusion," says Matt Rossano, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Southeastern Louisiana University.
But Rossano adds that a routine should only take care of the main structure—getting ready for work, getting to the gym—in order to save your energy for what matters: the details. "They demonstrate that part of your routine is still important and you're still engaged in it," he says. Sometimes, though, the entirety becomes too comfortable. You do and view the same things in the same way. There's no challenge, fear, or push to learn something new.
You don't need to make wholesale changes—the routines are fundamental—but some occasional disruptions are called for. Here are five tips for unsticking the places in your life that can get stuck.
Bring in New Pictures
Personalizing your workspace is positive, but it's a safe bet that nothing has changed since your first day, even though a lot in your life has. Hitting "refresh" helps you and your co-workers. "It's like a haircut. It gives a different visual," says Paul L. Marciano, Ph.D., human relations consultant and author of Carrots and Sticks Don't Work. That inevitably inspires people to stop. Conversations can start; bonds might be formed or deepened; and, research has shown that daily interactions help well-being. If it's a photo of your dog, great. If it has something to do with a team and you live in enemy territory, there's nothing wrong with sparking some good-natured trash-talking to deepen connections!
Give Your Partner a Gift
Relationships find a certain rhythm in weekly shows and favorite meals, but a sameness can creep in and the dynamic can become too familiar. Every so often, you want to break that cycle by giving your partner something special. It could be an object, an experience, or just some time. Whatever it is, the main component is that it's something that the person wants. Initially, you may be stumped at what the object should be, but pretend that you're on a game show and the final question for $25,000 is, "What has your partner mentioned that would make him or her excited?" Now you'll come up with the answer, and it will come off as anything but unimaginative, says Pat Love, Ed.D., relationship expert and author of