I’m a big fan of routine.
As an example, here’s part of my morning ritual:
- peel four bananas, and place into blender
- pour 24 ounces of water in blender, and blend for about 5 seconds
- go to the fridge and get out the romaine lettuce and baby spinach
- add a heart of romaine lettuce to the blender and blend
- go to the cabinet where I keep “my stuff” and take my Vitamin D while getting out the chia seeds and Vega protein powder, which I then add to my smoothie
- while returning the chia seeds and protein powder to the cabinet, take my Vitamin B12
- add about 3 cups of baby spinach to the smoothie and then blend
- after returning the lettuce and spinach to the fridge, get the next set of ingredients from the freezer
- add 5-8 large frozen strawberries, a cup of frozen blueberries, and a cup of frozen pineapple chunks to the smoothie
- while the fruit is blending, return the frozen fruit to the freezer
- pour the first of three servings of smoothie into my 20 oz. cup and then begin to read and tweet the Wall Street Journal
- after pouring my final cup from the blender I then wash the blender
- the drinking, reading, and tweeting takes about an hour
- when the last cup is finished, I wash the cup (and yes, I do use the same cup every day, it’s all part of the routine…)
The above scenario takes place every day, 365 days per year, except for the tweeting which is left out on Sunday because there is no WSJ (or if we are away from home for some reason).
Having such a routine is in line with a previous post where I talked about the fashion habits of people like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and myself, in which we all wear the same type of outfit to work every day, or at least on certain days (knock that off my bucket list – being mentioned in the same sentence as Jobs and Zuckerberg).
Part of the reason for having such habits is that it is one less thing to think about when you wake up, allowing you to focus on other issues or projects facing you that day.
But is there a danger in being so committed to a routine?
I know from an exercise perspective there is value in mixing up your routine. It’s a chance to give some muscles a rest while working a different set of muscles. The result should be an overall increase in fitness.
However, as you might imagine from reading my morning routine above, I often don’t follow such advice, and I’ve paid the price. I’ve had a lot of soreness and a few injuries over the years, and most of them can probably be traced to repetitive stress from doing the same thing every day. You’d think I’d learn my lesson after awhile, but…
I’ve also read that if you want to get your creative juices flowing, it often requires you to break out your routine, and to try something different.
A few months ago I bought an acoustic guitar, and I was going to commit myself to learning how to play. I found some great online lessons, and dove in. It was a painful experience, both literally and figuratively.
I learned that playing a guitar is tough on the fingers until you build up some callouses, and so trying to learn the various chords hurt for a couple of weeks. The process reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from Happy Gilmore, when an elderly woman complains about her fingers hurting.
But once the pain subsided, I realized that learning to play the guitar was going to take a lot longer than I thought. I would be stuck for days trying to get an A chord down just right, without having to look at my fingers. Then the process repeated itself when I tried to learn a new chord, only to forget the previous one. Then I missed a day, then a little while later I realized I had missed a week. When I tried to start up again, my fingers started to hurt once more. And before I knew it, four months had passed since I last picked up the guitar. (I’m staring at the dang thing right now while I’m writing, like it’s taunting me).
So much for trying to spark my creativity…
I also realized that I’m in quite a rut with my music listening, stuck in the 1970s. Fortunately, all of my kids have been quite into music, and so I got exposed to a few new artists over the years, but my computer and iPhone are still filled with the likes of Springsteen, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and Tim Moore (Who is Tim Moore you might ask? Here’s a couple of his great songs: Second Avenue and In the Middle).
I did go to a local coffeehouse with my youngest son a couple of months ago to listen to some new music. It was great, and we said we would make it a weekly habit, but we haven’t gone since that first night
More on the music thing in a later post…
So that brings me to my blogging. I started this on January 1 in response to a #writeandrun31 challenge in Facebook from No Meat Athlete Matt Frazier, and his sister Christine Frazier. One of the reasons for the blog was that I thought it would be a way to be creative, a chance to express myself and to share those thoughts with a wider audience. In Seth Godin’s words, to ship.
I made it successfully through January (measured by quantity, not quality), and have kept it going through February.
In my mind, I’ve broken out of a rut by producing something original every day, but at the same time, I have gotten into a routine of producing something every day.
So maybe it’s a fine line between being in a rut and having an effective routine. I guess it’s just a matter of perspective; perhaps the best way to get out of rut is to start a new routine.
Oops, I’ve gotta go. I just realized it’s time for my cup of herbal tea and a Clif Bar…