Some people thrive in routine. They love waking up knowing exactly what mountains need to be climbed, and they are up for the challenge. Other people find joy in spontaneity and prefer to tackle things as they come. Both of these approaches are totally valid ways to plan your day—and it all comes down to knowing when to plan, and knowing when not to plan.
No matter how you structure your day, you might find that after a while, your routine just doesn’t cut it anymore. But that doesn’t mean routines are a bad thing! We’ve compiled a list of actionable, proven ways to optimize your routine to best fit your needs, from Type A to B and everyone in between.
1. Schedule dedicated breaks
We love when people enjoy what they do; it’s the ultimate dream! But you will not be able to do what you do *well* if you do not give your mind time to rest.
Taking breaks throughout the day is absolutely necessary for peak performance. Without breaks, you’re more likely to suffer the effects of burnout, which can make you feel unhappy in a position you usually love. Schedule time to make each day feel fresh, and spend your breaks performing activities that help you find your center. Some of our favorite breaks include:
- Going on a walk
- Listening to a favorite playlist
- Doing some desk yoga
- Playing with pets (make sure to share a picture in your company group chat!)
2. Declutter your schedule
Don’t get us wrong: We love great meetings! But are all your meetings really necessary?
Pro tip: If you feel you shouldn’t be on the invite list, you’re probably right. If your schedule is cluttered with unnecessary meetings, you’re doing yourself and your team a disservice by showing up.
We are *not* saying that you should just cancel all your meetings, no questions asked. In fact, asking questions is exactly what you should be doing! If you go through your day dreading a certain meeting, all you need to do is be honest about it. Ask yourself:
- What problem are these meetings solving?
- Is there a purpose for each agenda item?
- What do we hope to gain from gathering together vs. communicating via email?
- What can I, specifically, contribute to this meeting?
Ruminate on these a while. You might be surprised where you end up!
3. Anticipate issues before they arise
If you’re feeling bored at work, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have a short To-Do list. Instead, maybe you’re avoiding complex issues you’re not ready to deal with just yet. The cycle goes:
- A complex problem arises
- Person gets overwhelmed
- Person doesn’t like being overwhelmed
- Person ignores the complex problem
- Ignorance is temporary bliss, and leads to a focus on tedious activities as an avoidance tactic
Avoiding high-involvement projects isn’t always a conscious decision. In fact, it’s usually a “fight, flight or freeze” category of response. The problem is, you then get stuck in a vicious cycle of focusing on “boring” projects to avoid higher-intensity ones.
Get ahead of the problem-induced panic by learning how to get ahead of complex problems before they arise!
4. Check your situation
If after all this, you still feel like your days are “blah,” you might need to reevaluate the bigger picture. It’s entirely possible that you’re just not happy in your role—and realizing that is a *good* thing!
Take a step back, and try to identify the parts of your job that you don’t like. These could be things you procrastinate, dislike or flat-out avoid. Start a conversation with your supervisor about it. While you may not be happy in your current role, chances are your exact talents and passions are in demand somewhere else in the organization. If it helps, review your organization’s business strategy to realign yourself with the company’s vision.