Are Routines Boring?

By their very nature, routines tend to repeat the same things over and over, usually without much variation. Does that make them boring?

We all develop routines in our lives. This is because they can be useful to us in a number of different ways.

First off, they can help conserve mental energy. For instance, once you define a morning ritual and perform it a few times, you don’t have to think about it too much. Your brain can go on autopilot while you brush your teeth, get dressed, make your regular breakfast, and so on.

Another benefit comes about from developing useful or healthy habits. If you want to get in shape, say, then always exercising at the same time of day or on the same days of the week can help create a habit. Once the habit is created, it is easier to maintain the lifestyle you want.

Routines can also help you in your interactions with others. Your boss will like it if you regularly get to work at the same time each day. Your spouse appreciates a predictable schedule when they need to reach you or when planning out the week.

These are all ways behaving with some consistency can help you. However, even if it is beneficial, is it boring?

If the goal is to repeat the same actions and behaviors over and over, that would seem to be boring. There would likely be a corresponding decrease in spontaneity. There is a small distance between a routine and a rut.

But is that truly the case? How can you avoid boredom while maintaining consistency? Do you even care if you are boring, if you are doing what you find meaningful?

Related questions: What is one thing you feel the need to do every day? Do you have morning rituals? Variety or consistency?

 

2 thoughts on “Are Routines Boring?”

  1. Are routines boring? They can be, but they don’t have to. Let me share a bit about how my routines are helpful and not (for the most part) boring.

    Until recently, I characterized my home life as filled with wonderful, boring routines. But then, in a conversation where others expressed favor for the “boring” life I lead, I reassessed my situation and recognized that I live some of my values through my patterns. I also made space for relaxation and rejuvenation through the routines I’ve formed.

    I wake up at the same time every morning and go to bed at the same time each night, even on weekends; nearly all health professionals recommend this practice. I strive to exercise an hour each morning; in doing so, I prioritize personal health. Rebecca and I make space in our mornings to talk about what’s going on in our personal, work, and shared lives; this sharing connects us daily and allows us to help each other out when needed. I eat nearly the same food daily; my healthy diet includes a hard-boiled egg, many fruits and vegetables, nuts, and good dairy. (I’ll admit, while my diet routine is nutritious, it is boring sometimes.) After work, Rebecca and I prepare a nourishing dinner and watch a TV program together; this shared experience allows us to relax from important and non-routine workdays while giving us something light-hearted to discuss. I end my day by reading or listening to music; both relax and give me something to talk about in many social situations. My hobbies are also routine or patterned. For instance, my love of gardening involves a lot of weeding and watering. While this could be boring, I frequently use the time to think about problems I need to resolve or, often, comfort me when I’m feeling anxious.

    On a side note, I often fail to express why my routines are important. For example, when people ask what I did over the weekend, I usually say something like, “Same old, same old.” I’m short-changing myself and my routines. I shouldn’t simply answer what I did but also why I do it. For example, music is very important to me. I should talk more about how and why this is so. The same goes for gardening, exercise, and reading. While all these things fit into patterns, they are far from boring. They demonstrate what I consider priorities in my life.

    While my routines are, by their very nature, repetitive, I no longer consider them boring. Good patterns allow me, as noted earlier, to live my values, and they prioritize actions that will help me achieve my goals.

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