When I was in the third grade my teacher gave us an assignment to come up with an invention. Mine was an innovative, practical, BRILLIANT way to quickly wake people up in the morning. I set an alarm to go off and had my sister, Casey, the “test subject”, lie in bed and pull a string when she heard the beep. The string released Tabasco sauce down a PVC pipe and into her mouth.
“You asshole!” she said, popping right up and hitting me. (Casey routinely had her mouth washed out with soap when we were kids for repeating phrases my dad always swore to my mom, she “absolutely did not” hear from him.)
At eight years old I knew that popping out of bed was going to be a lifelong important routine for me. When I’m working on a story, getting up quickly comes naturally. I cannot wait to get back to what I was working on the night before and head right out the door to my favorite coffee shop where I’ll stay the majority of the day. When I’m not working on a story, I often feel like I need that Tabasco sauce down a PVC pipe to get me going.
We all have such interesting and unique personal routines. Tyler Cowen, author of Average is Over said, “I wake up around 6:30 or 7:00 a.m., drink some mineral water, munch on a green pepper, along with cheese and smoked trout.” Talk about random! As a society we also have tons of routines that most of us participate in and accept as normal without ever questioning. For instance the nine to five work day. This is a “routine” most of us subscribe to.
But it’s actually been proven that working from home is a smarter management strategy. And I wonder if green peppers, cheese, and smoked trout really does help Tyler Cowen? Or is it just something he started doing one day and hasn’t really thought about changing?
Honestly my own personal morning routine lately has not been serving me. I realized this when I started my day differently last week. I met a friend bright and early for a walk and then headed to coffee to start my day like I used to when I was in the middle of an exciting story. I couldn’t believe how much better and more productive my day turned out to be.
I believe routines are important for productivity but can be detrimental to our creativity and to our mental health if we don’t check in with them and ask the question: is this routine really serving me?
I encourage you to look at your routines. Which ones fill you up and which ones feel depleting? By reestablishing a relationship with our routines and choosing which ones to kick and which ones to keep, we can change our lives for the better.
What are some routines that work for you? I’d love to hear them below!