Nov 132010
Boston Businessman by Niccolo Caranti

I love routines because they are convenient. They help me to get something done without much thought or effort on my part. This means that I can conserve my energy for more important matters. But routines are a double-edged sword. While they have their uses, an overreliance on them will cause us to be stuck in a rut. To avoid this situation, it is beneficial to changes our routines from time to time. Before I discuss some simple changes we can make to our routines, let us look at some of the benefits that come with a change in routine.

Increased Creativity

A routine is a tried and true method of getting a task done. As such, it eliminates the need for thinking and creativity. Whenever I carry out a routine, my brain goes into a coma to avoid reinventing the wheel. But like any other muscle of the body, prolonged disuse causes atrophy. When the need arises to use my brain in a creative manner, I find that my thoughts are sluggish from disuse.

You do not need to strain yourself to be creative. The simple act of changing your routine forces you to find new ways of getting the job done. By exercising your creativity to adapt to new conditions, you become more creative as a result.

Inspired Living

Routines keep me within my comfort zone where it is safe and familiar. It is safe and familiar because I think I know what to expect. Naturally, I do not bother to notice what happens as I carry out my tasks in a robot-like fashion. There is nothing new to notice anyway. Since inspiration thrives on new experiences and ideas, it is hard for routines to inspire me.

Thankfully, the world is much larger than our comfort zones. Life does not have to be and is never dull and boring. Just the simple act of making small changes to your routine can leave you inspired. This is because in changing your routine, you enter a larger world. There are so many things for you to savour and try. There are so many experiences waiting to enrich your life. From the richness of your new experiences comes inspiration.

Mastery of Changes

As I mentioned earlier, routines make tend to make me sluggish. Sure, I have no problem in carrying out a routine task quickly if everything goes as I expect it to. But if a change were to disrupt my routine, it would leave me disoriented, as if I had just awakened from a long slumber. This is hardly the right frame of mind for me to handle change or challenges. Although routines can be useful, an overreliance on them only dulls my edge.

Changes are the only constant in life. To master change, you have to deal with change on a constant basis. This is the only way to learn to handle change successfully. With time, you will gain the wisdom needed to handle most changes with calm and composure simply because you are used to it. Learning to handle change is not difficult. All it takes is to make small changes to your routines from time to time. These little changes count because they keep you sharp and ready for change at any time.

5 Simple Changes in Routine

Having said all that, changing your routine does not entail huge upheavals that will upset your life. That is counter-productive. The original purpose of a routine is to make your life easier in this hectic day and age. So unless you have a pressing reason for massive change, small and simple changes to your routine will do.

Personally, I prefer simple changes to my routine. I believe that small and lasting changes have a greater effect than a one-off major change. So here are some small changes that I made to my routines that you can try as well.

Reading by Anna T

1. A Change in Reading Habits

Reading is one of the main ways in which we absorb information. Yet many of us have fixed reading habits. We like to stick to the same type of books and websites because they are familiar. This is one area where we can make small changes to our routines.

I remember the first time I read the manga Naruto. I was sceptical about it at first, but I soon found myself sucked into a fascinating world. In the process, I learned a lot about life and its lessons. Who would have thought that a manga could teach me such things?

If you like to read fiction, try non-fiction instead. If you read books, try reading comics or manga. Or you could also try visiting other websites to see what they have to offer. By reading things you would not normally read, you step out of your comfort zone into another world. In doing so, you life will be richer because of it.

2. A Change in Culinary Delights

Ok I admit I am not a foodie. In fact, I am a boring eater who eats to function. It is therefore not surprising that people have expressed concerned for my underused taste buds. Thus for me, a change in culinary delights is a great way to add change to my routine. When I try new food, I excite my taste buds because they do not know what to expect. On top of that, I get to enjoy the ambience of each new restaurant that I visit. By changing the food and the places you eat, you are likely to take the time to savour your meals instead of rushing through them. A great meal can leave you feeling refreshed and inspired.

3. Have a Mini-Adventure

Do you notice the surroundings as you travel back and forth from point A to B? Most people I observe travel with glazed eyes. Whether it is on a train or a bus, they sleep, read or listen to music. Since they know where and how to get to their destination, they can afford to zone out and make it there in one piece. But if they were in an unfamiliar place, they would not have the luxury of doing so.

As such, having a mini-adventure is a great way to add change to your routine. You could visit a new country, check out a new place or take a different route to a familiar destination. On the one hand, you expose yourself to things you have never seen or done before. On the other hand, you become more alert and present as you immerse yourself in the experience. Changes are bound to accompany new experiences. Your mini-adventures will help you to deal with changes as they arise.

4. Make New Friends

Making new friends is another simple change you can introduce to your life. When new friends enter your life, they bring along their experiences and ideas that will influence you in some way. As time passes, you learn from and grow with them, stepping out of your comfort zone in the process. Together, you will create shared experiences that add flavour and meaning to your life.

Much of who we are today are the result of the influence that our friends have on us. As such, we have to be careful in choosing our friends. In this way, we ensure that the changes our friends introduce to our lives are good for us.

5. Learn Something New

Learning a new skill or hobby helps to unleash your potential. It can stretch your mind or cause you to use your body in ways you never have. Sometimes it can do both. Take yoga for example. It increases your flexibility, tones your muscles and harmonizes your mind with your body. Learning to play chess on the other hand, teaches you mental clarity, focus, patience and strategy. Each new skill you pick up will add variety and spice to your life.

Yoga by Shunpikie

Taking Action

As you can see, it does not take a massive upheaval to attain the benefits of changing your routine from time to time. Simple changes are just as effective, if not more so. What matters is that we do not allow ourselves to become too comfortable with any routine that keeps our lives going. A little change from time to time is good for the soul.

What are your thoughts on the routines in your life? What other benefits are there in changing our routines from time to time? Are there any other simple changes we can make to the routines we have? Do share your thoughts and comments below.

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  21 Responses to “The Benefits of a Change in Routine”

  1. I have mixed feeling about routine, but not change. I am a fan of routine in some ways. Mainly because I love efficiency. In many things, if you boil something down to a routine, you get something that is teachable and therefore can be outsourced, leaving you more free time and creative time.

    I also feel that sometimes while doing routine things, you body can be one place and your mind somewhere else. I am a pretty fanatical runner. Running is very routine (though i love to run “new” places). I find that with the repetitive nature of running I really am able to think about things and come up with some of my best ideas. It is close to meditation for me. I think that a well oiled routine of any sort can do this. From digging in a garden to doing laundry…. OK, laundry might be stretching it.


    I am also a big believer in the power of change. Routine is all you have…it can hold you back. There has to be new experiences coming in too. All of your examples on change are great.

    Let me just take the first one : reading.

    I am a fairly avid reader. It is something just about everyone in my family is passionate about. I have read comic books, fantasy, science fiction, self help books, thrillers, business books, technical books, historical fiction, biographies, classics. I have even read -please forgive me- a sidney sheldon and a jackie collins novel in my life. (that should rate as a very embarrassing thing for a guy…)

    I totally agree that changing up your comfort zones in these ways not only grows your perspective, but can often give you a deeper appreciation for the things that are in your comfort zone.

    For instance my all time FAVORITE book is a series by a guy called George RR Martin. ( I like it so much I often try to “sell” his stuff to get more people to appreciate his work) He writes very well done “adult” style fantasy. His stories have a lot of intrigue, dense plotting and realistic actions based on human nature. (not all his good guys are totally good and not all bad guys totally bad)

    Anyhow, he got a lot of the ideas for some of his characters, and some of the setup for the warring “houses” from the “War of the Roses”. Having read a semi-dull historical book on the War of the roses gave me a much deeper appreciation for the book, even though the “basis” was really loose, you could clearly see a few connections.

    The point is that you never know what something new will teach you, until you try it on for size.
    Steve@Lifestyle Design recently posted..10 Ways to Reuse and Recycle your Web ContentMy Profile

    • Hi Steve,

      I understand what you mean about routine and efficiency. I get what you mean about your body and mind being in different places. I also find myself getting all sorts of ideas when I am in the gym doing my workouts. I believe that ideas can come at anytime and place even when doing laundry. We just have to be alert and ready for it.

      I love the scope of your reading! Don’t worry about reading Sidney Sheldon or Jackie Collins. It’s no big deal, there are worse things we could do than that. But I see no reason why we should limit the types of books we read. It’s how you use that knowledge that matters. I would read almost anything if it gave me ideas to achieve my goals.

      I totally agree with you about how you can gain a deeper appreciation of one thing because of something new you’ve learned. I love to draw from a variety of sources, that is why I like to read widely. When you read widely you worldview expands and you see things more holistically. Every book that I have read has made me more than I was before.

      I have seen George Martin’s books but I have never picked it up before. I might just have to give it a go one of these days since you say his stories have intrigue, dense plotting and realistic actions based on human nature. These are all the things that appeal to me in a story.

      Thank you for your thoughtful and humourous comments! It’s always great to hear from you! :D

  2. Hi The Vizier,

    I agree that routine can have its benefits – but, also that you can become robot-like when you consistently follow the same old routine day in and day out. If you always keep doing what you always do, you’ll always get what you’ve always got (as someone said).

    I definitely like the idea of going on a mini-adventure… no matter how dramatic or gentle. That would give a welcome break to the same old stuff and provide a boost to introduce new things to refresh your routine.
    Scott McIntyre recently posted..7 Slow and Steady Steps to Turn Your Passion Into Your JobMy Profile

    • Hi Scott,

      That’s a great quote! “If you always keep doing what you always do, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” It pretty much sums up the idea of routine and the need for change.

      Yeah mini-adventures can add spice to your life. And it doesn’t have to burn a hole in your wallet. You just have to exercise your creativity to find ways to have that mini-adventure in your life.

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  3. I love these suggestions, and I try to practice a few of these in my own life. Particularly trying new culinary delights. I love to try new restaurants as well as new dishes at my old favorite restaurants.

    I played with the idea of trying new things a couple years back when I attempted to do at least one new thing every day. One thing that was so easy to do new each day was to try a new menu item at the places I’d been eating every day at lunch. It’s easy to find a favorite dish and order that every time, but I actually found some new favorites by trying different items on the menu.
    Eric | Eden Journal recently posted..Superhero Power – Mind Reading – Can You Handle ItMy Profile

    • Hi Eric,

      If you like trying new culinary delights then you should stop by Singapore sometime if you have never been here. There is lots of great food to eat here. In fact, eating is one of the favourite pastimes of Singaporeans. My ex-boss gained 10kg after working in Singapore for 2 months if I remember correctly. Check out the variety of food we have at this blog.

      Thanks you for sharing your experiences! :)

  4. Hi,
    This is a terrific post! I appreciate the reminder that change can give us wisdom. Also I’m glad you encourage simple change. It isn’t so intimidating. I’m going to take action today!! Thanks!
    Dandy recently posted..Romantic relationships – an exercise on valuesMy Profile

    • Hi Dandy,

      I am aware of how daunting major changes can be. By making small manageable changes each day, we will have a big change in time which is agreeable with us. Have fun making small changes in your life!

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  5. Really enjoyed this post. And I must give Naruto a try! I’ve certainly heard of it before.

    I can’t really add much to this post, but I agree with you that a change in routine can bring new experiences, opportunities and as a result greater wisdom!

    Totally worth it.

    • Hi Bamboo Forest,

      You should give Naruto a try and here are some helpful links to help you along.

      Naruto Manga Online: This is where I read all my Naruto comics. It took me about a week to finish reading them. It was hard to stop since I quickly grew to care for the characters and was moved to tears many times by the stories. (That is worse than reading Sidney Sheldon and Jackie Collins. :P)
      Naruto Wikipedia: This is a great resource to read up on the huge cast of characters. I refer to this site a lot.

      So sit back and enjoy the manga when you have the time. It would be great to see which characters you like the most. My favourites are Gaara, Rock Lee, Might Guy, Hinata and Shikamaru.

      Oh and regarding your post on the Warrior, you might just appreciate Fist of the North Star or Hokuto no Ken. It’s another of my favourite mangas which moved me to tears, but there was also a lot of interesting life lessons. You would love the stoic determination of the protagonist Kenshiro in the face of all adversity.

      And the best part of reading mangas is playing the video games that they make of it. Nothing beats watching your favourite characters come to life before your very eyes.

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  6. Cool… I will definitely be checking out these sites! Thanks.

  7. Great post here.

    I remember reading once about an entrepreneur that I respected. He was sitting in a restaurant with his wife and after the dinner was done, they had to walk over this bridge to get out of the restaurant. The bridge spanned over this lake, and out of nowhere the entrepreneur throws off his jacket and wallet and jumps into the lake.

    He comes out laughing, his wife shocked. In the story he said that this single act refreshed his whole mind body and spirit. It made him able to think of things again in a new way.

    I like that story a lot. I think routine is excellent and required to have to build anything stable. On the flip-side, routine needs to be challenge if an entrepreneur is to keep their most prized skill – creativity & thinking outside of the box.

    Again awesome post, thank you so much for sharing!
    Gregory Elfrink recently posted..Holding onto Traditions Will Kill YouMy Profile

    • Hi Gregory,

      I think that is a great story which you have shared. Sometimes it takes something radical like jumping into a lake to get us out of our rut. If I were to jump into the lake like that entrepreneur did, I would totally be focused in the present and see things from a whole new perspective.

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  8. One of our biggest routines is definitely what we eat at home. Sometimes I get so bored by our routine that I actually do an intermittent fasting program! I try to snap out of it by visiting a restaurant that we have never been to or even trying a new recipe or new food at home. It isn’t perfect but it works. :-)
    Susan@HomeWorkouts recently posted..Fitness Challenge Of The WeekMy Profile

    • Hi Susan,

      Visiting a new restaurant or trying a new recipe would definitely add change and colour to our lives. Not every change would turn out the way we hope it would, but we should never stop trying to introduce change. There are bound to be times when the change is more than worth it.

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  9. Irving,

    What a detailed post on routine. You are right sometimes routine needs some refreshing but routine are friend that you are familiar with.

    I like to think I like routine but not schedules. Meaning, we do not need to eat dinner at 7.30PM everyday, it, it could be at 6 sometimes or 8pm sometimes, as long as we eat or drink something during evening time. I have noticed many people and kids do better at routine (sleep, teaching etc) compared to rigid time schedules.
    Zengirl @ Heart and Mind recently posted..Giving Thanks- How Gratitude Can Improve Your LifeMy Profile

    • Hi Preeti,

      I am all for the flexibility of routine that you have pointed out. I also do not believe in rigid time schedules. If we were to try to force ourselves to adhere rigidly to a schedule, something is bound to give way in the long run. Either we stop following the schedule completely or we get really stressed trying to follow the schedule. It is best to have a routine that you have suggested and go with the flow.

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  10. Change of routine leads to growth, I agree. My compliments Irving, you explained it in the brilliant way.

    I like the idea of making new friends… It is a very powerful way to change a routine… Most people are comfortable with the same friends, however, their friends and they have the same belief systems. The moment they change friends, they gain insight into a new belief system. It brings change for them and for their new friend. A change leads to learning. And learning leads to growth. Amazing!

    • Hi Marko,

      Making new friends is a great way to bring change into your life. Each of my dear friends have influenced me in a positive way. So I am looking forward to what I can learn from my new friends. I believe there will be great growth and learning if I keep an open mind and stay receptive.

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  11. [...] see, a change in routines can hold quite some [...]

  12. [...] The blogger at “Han of Harmony” expressed similar feelings: “I love routines because they are convenient. They help me to get something done without much thought or effort on my part. This means that I can conserve my energy for more important matters. But routines are a double-edged sword. While they have their uses, an over-reliance on them will cause us to be stuck in a rut. To avoid this situation, it is beneficial to changes our routines from time to time.” [...]

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