Shake up your routine in the name of creativity
3 ways to break the mold without leaving home.
Don’t get me wrong. I love routine as much as the next person. It’s comforting, productive and useful. Plus, we’re humans so we can’t help but crave consistency. But at what point do our beloved routines become creativity suckers? Doing the same thing day in and day out is great for managing risk, but it often comes at a cost to innovation, originality, and stimulation.
Whether you’re seeking a personal or professional burst of creativity, these three tips offer accessible ways to refresh your outlook and attitude.
1. Go to a different neighborhood in your town and act like a tourist.
I know, I know, you technically have to leave your house for this one, but I promise you won’t have to go far to experience the benefits. I recently went to Northeast Minneapolis — about a 10 minute drive from my neighborhood — and spent an afternoon wandering around just as I would in new city. I popped into a few shops, then grabbed coffee and a croissant from a sidewalk cafe to aid in some good old fashioned people watching. The neighborhood had really changed since the last time I visited, with restaurants, shops and residential living popping up everywhere. It felt new and interesting, and like I had traveled to a different city altogether.
Since the pandemic began, I’ve been facilitating my workshops virtually. It’s a shift I enjoy as a whole, but when I realize I haven’t left my desk in five days things can feel a little unvaried. I’m no longer exposed to places or people or scenarios that emerge from leaving home, so I have to be more intentional about getting out. Just a simple trip to a neighborhood in my own backyard gave me a shift in perspective; like I had gone out of town and returned with a mental zhuzh.
2. Go back in time with a nostalgic album.
This might sound trivial, but I recently had a conversation about it with a friend who reached the same conclusion independent from my hypothesis (so it must be true!). I had listened to The Doors and broke on through to the other side of some stuck thinking, and wanted to understand why this was so energizing. According to this Vice article, “Neuroimaging has shown that songs stimulate many different areas of the brain, and give us a big hit of dopamine while they’re at it.” When we listen to these albums cover to cover (as they used to say before CDs became redundant), we tap into a nice big dopamine hit that can overflow into other areas of our lives. So, which nostalgic album will you queue up after reading this?
3. Disrupt your daily.
Tweak your breakfast routine, take a mid-morning break, or change up your computer parking spot. Often we don’t even think about these decisions, which is mostly helpful, unless you’re in a creative funk. Do you usually have granola for breakfast? Switch it up by making pancakes on a weekday. Or, rather than racing into your morning, sip your coffee slowly while enjoying the view from a window.
Since I normally work from home and have a designated office, sometimes I like to scoot to another room in the house (ideally with killer light), and work a few hours from this satellite desk. Even as I started writing this article I opted for a pen and paper rather than hands to keyboard. Handwriting suddenly felt cathartic rather than tired or expected (as typing has become). Even that seemingly small change helped break up my routine and shift my attitude.
Next time you’re feeling stuck or limited, feel free to defer to one of these tips. Or, better yet, get ahead of it by implementing a weekly or daily routine “upset”. The creative and emotional payout could be huge.
How do you break up routine to inspire creativity? Drop your suggestions in the comments below!
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