This post will be more off the cuff than my other ones. I felt like this is something that has helped me a lot and I want to share with everyone the value that I find in taking breaks from your daily routine.
Just this past weekend, one of my friends had a birthday party for his daughter. I was invited and it was a really nice gathering of friends and family.
I usually don’t go to a lot of parties or other similar events. I’m more of a loner, not that I really prefer to be, but just because I rather work on my site or workout most of the time than do anything else. And that is the primary for this post.
I was starting to feel the monotony of just work, training, working on my site, and repeat. I was going through the same routine everyday. On the weekends, my work time gets replaced with time for working on my site. It was always one of those three.
Routine is good, don’t get me wrong here. I think having a routine is one of the best ways to develop consistency in your schedule. I used routine to get my schedule down of those three things I just mentioned. And I’m grateful for that.
Without routine to begin with, my schedule would probably have been sporadic. I most likely would only work on my site when I feel like it. And that would’ve been maybe once a week at most because I’m usually pretty tried from work as it is.
Working out? That’s been on the back burner most days if I didn’t have my routine. Trying to do something physically challenging after the mental challenge of getting through work is like completely draining yourself of all life force.
But routine has made all of this possible. I was able to fit in these important activities into my daily schedule. So much so that I didn’t make room for anything else. For a while, it worked great. I got a lot of things done and it was a very exhilarating feeling knowing I was productive and accomplishing things that I wanted to.
However, I’m talking about the importance of breaking out of that routine.
WHAT? I just thought you said routine was a great thing and it helped you do what you wanted? Why would you ever want to stop that?
Let’s take a step back and look at the grand scheme of things.
Purpose Of My Routine
The reason why I started a routine was to be able to do all the things I want to accomplish. In my case, that means fitting in time for working out, working on my site, and work (my day job) at a minimum. These three things were and still are the top priority as of right now.
Looking at what I was getting done, I was ecstatic when I first adopted the routine. It was a but tough to adjust to at first but setting out time blocks helped me accomplished more than I have before.
Taking the initiative and doing what I know I should be doing came naturally. I didn’t have to force myself (as much) because I didn’t feel like it or feel a HUGE obstacle in front of me telling me it’s okay to skip this workout session or no one’s gonna care if you update your site tomorrow instead of tonight.
Not Without Drawbacks
Believe it or not, the routine was starting to take its toll. Although I was still getting things done, it was starting to deplete me mentally. It might seem like having a routine actually makes it less mentally draining, doing the exact same things for weeks on end had the opposite effect on me.
Having a repetitive day job that required a lot of mental focus does not exactly help either. Although I’m excited to work on my site every time I get on the computer, I was starting to feel the monotony of it as I stated before. I was feeling the same thing during my workouts. And I don’t think I need to tell you how I felt during work.
This feeling was more about the overall life I was living. The work, workout, website work, repeat routine.
And this feeling was starting to impact my productivity. It started with me not feeling up to doing any of these activities. Like I said before, I was still excited at the prospect of making a living with an online business, and I know that working on my site is the only way to achieve that.
And as far as my workouts? Yes, I tried a different workout routine. I had a program designed by your truly for yours truly. And just like everything else, it was awesome to begin with. But I just wasn’t “feeling it” after a while. And even with a different workout every time I still wasn’t feeling like I was before because I was still doing essentially the same thing all the time.
Just knowing that I was going to be doing the same things day in and day out was very unappealing to me.
Matter of fact, it was for this reason that I wanted to start my own online business in the first place. To get out of the mundane atmosphere of doing the same thing everyday that a lot of us are accustomed to.
I found myself in the same spot, however temporary it may seem compared to the big picture, and I was feeling the effects of it. And it was time to get out.
It wasn’t so much the routine itself that I want to change, because I still want to/have to do all of those things. I was looking for something that can stop the feeling of boredom, monotony, “mundaneness”, however you like to describe it.
Knowing that the list of activities (only three) in my routine wasn’t getting any shorter, I started adding to it and modifying them a bit. No, it’s not just changing up my workout routine like I mentioned earlier. That wasn’t doing much for me in the long run.
I started adding in other activities into my schedule without compromising the original activities that I’ve been working on. In other words, I was taking breaks in between my sessions of work, training, and working on my website.
Granted, this left me with less time than usual to get done the things I usually get done. And at first, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. Like how am I supposed to get results from my workouts if I don’t train X number of hours per day? Or how will my site be a success and support me enough to make a full time income from if I don’t spend X amount of time on it?
But I realized that these are the very thoughts that got me into this in the first place. The pressure to keep up with the monotony and realizing that I have to accept it as reality.
It wasn’t until I realized this that I started to take breaks liberally and much more comfortably. I was opening my schedule up to other things and it has helped me stay refreshed and focused on my activities when it came time to action.
One of the major breakthroughs for me was that I appreciated more of what I had to do. By being away from what I do most of the time just for a little bit, I get to take my mind off of those things that are constantly going through my head.
And when I’m on one of my break activities and think about those three things that I’ve been so focused on, I want to do them that much more. It’s not the same feeling as that of regret of not doing them as much as I could, but more so I can think of how to do them in a better way; or they don’t feel as monotonous anymore and are much easier to take on.
Another perspective that I’ve gained through this was that by taking breaks, your overall productivity goes up! Even if I’ve spent time away from your usual work, I’d get so much more done when I return to it than if I had stuck with the same thing for the whole day.
This was hard to accept at first and probably the hardest reality I had to accept. Although I knew it’s true, it was difficult to not work myself to the ground and feel the sense of accomplishment when I’m super tired and spent all my time doing those few activities only.
So I “begrudgingly” took time off here and there from my normal routine and tried out different things with friends. To say the least it has helped me not only accomplish more, but also feel better about each day. And what has helped me accept this is simply thinking about what my purpose for doing this is. If my ultimate goal is to achieve X, and taking some time off here and there will help me get there faster than if I didn’t, I’d be a fool to not follow that principle.
It was only until I looked at it that way from a logical standpoint did I feel “right” about spending time off.
Now that I’m taking time away from my normal routine, even with the increased productivity, that little bit of nagging feeling of not doing “all that I could” was still in the back of my mind. It wasn’t a problem like it was with trying to fight through the boredom of the same thing everyday. But it was bothering somewhat and I wanted to address it.
Without going into too much detail of the transition, I’m starting to get more hours out of the day. Although I have my tired moments, I’ve been having more time in the later hours when no one else is up. I’ve decided to do most of my site work and training around that time since I can concentrate the most then.
After work has also been a great time for me. Before heading off to the gym for a workout session, I work on the site for a bit and make sure I get some progress going.
Yes, I see myself being very productive with this sleeping schedule. But even without it, just taking the needed breaks have already helped me do a lot more than before.
Don’t Get Carried Away
One of the more important things to keep in mind is to not get carried away with the breaks. Especially now that I’m adapting to my new sleep schedule, I feel like I can do a lot of other non-priority things and still get done everything I want to get done. That is not the case.
It was exciting at first to see how much my productivity had increased from taking breaks. But then it became tempting to take more breaks, but for the wrong reason.
It was easy to justify them by telling myself that breaks increase my productivity, so I should be using them more. But that line of thinking is a slippery slope into forgetting about my priorities.
I was able to catch myself before heading down the path of, what do you call it? Oh yea, laziness.
So I now have a balanced view on the breaks I should take to continue with my progress. Oh, and the birthday party that I was invited to? It was a great time. I met some new people, had a lot of fun and interesting conversations, saw some old friends from before, and got to give a gift to my friend’s daughter.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this off-the-cuff article. I felt it was something I had to share with everyone since it has helped me do more of what I know I should do and have fun doing it too.
If you have any tips or hints on how you fight through the monotony and staying productive, share your thoughts in the comments below!