Take Off the Cruise Control

Small ways to change up a monotonous schedule

Let me tell you about my life lately. It will be super quick. It goes something like this: wake up, go to work, (maybe) go to the gym, come home, go to sleep, wake up, go to work, (maybe) go to the gym…you get it.

When I’m busy at work, my life tends to revolve around the same schedule, every. single. day. Sure I get in dinner with friends every now and then, but the majority of my week looks like what I listed out above.

Life is too short and too unpredictable to live a boring routine- and while we might try, most of us simply dont have the time to experience different things every day. So I started thinking, what are some small changes I can make to make my day look new?

Below is a brief list of things I came up with to break up my boredom. Some of my changes have really helped, so please try them out yourself. If you’d like to create a more exhaustive list, please add your comments below!

  1. Take a new route to/from work, the gym, etc. Try to change up your route every once in a while (it can even just be going down the next street) and be sure to pay attention to your surroundings. When you look at things from a new angle, you might be surprised at the perspective you find. I took a new way home from the gym this weekend, and found a beautiful view into the Boston Public Garden. I was able to capture this photo:

2. Stop in a new coffee shop or lunch joint. Get something different for lunch (you’ll notice I didn’t say different coffee order — don’t mess with the perfection that gets your day going). Eat lunch somewhere else besides your desk- even better, eat with coworkers and don’t discuss work

3. Cook or bake something new (bonus points if it’s healthy). If you enjoy cooking with others, employ your significant other or roommate

4. Start a DIY project, or find a new hobby that doesn’t take up much time. I’ve started painting and it’s very relaxing. It’s something I can leave and come back to, but also won’t take up my whole day if I want to dedicate myself to finishing a piece

5. Try a new class at the gym, or switch up your typically workout routine. If you’re a runner, try rowing. Or if you want to stick with running, include some sprints every few miles. If you want to stick with what works, then add in new music

If you want to start small, start with the mindful tea lesson. A therapist told me about this mindfulness exercise a while ago, and I believe it can be applied to anything. It’s really just paying attention to your surrounding environment and your body. There are slight variations, but it goes something like this:

  1. Listen to your water boil on the stovetop (or in my case, listen to the hot water come out of the Keurig machine). Notice the sounds it makes, ask yourself if it sounds different from last time
  2. Steep your teabag in the water. Look the color and ask yourself if it looks different from last time
  3. Drink the tea. Notice the taste, feel the heat of the cup in your hands, and ask yourself if it’s different from last time

The change in your day comes down to mindfulness. Take the time to really notice your surroundings and the actions that you go through every day. Make yourself aware of what you are doing in that moment in time, and how it feels both mentally and physically. If you find yourself doing the same thing the next day, ask yourself if it’s different than yesterday- and if not, how you can make it an even better experience.

Originally published at medium.com

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