Getting Out of a Rut

Note: This entry has been changed from its original version to address a couple of errors.

It can happen to the best of us: we enjoy our work, we like our coworkers, and we seem to have a good routine going. However, the problem with routine is that human beings seem to get restless with it. We get bored. The happy path we made for ourselves has become a rut, and we’re running the risk of turning predictable or irritable when there’s really nothing wrong. Today’s entry is an brief meditation on ways to mix in changes without accidentally turning your mild boredom into something worse.

At Work

If you’re in a rut at work, there are numerous ways you can change your routine so it becomes less of a routine.

  • Assuming your work is not a strictly linear process, change the order in which you perform your task. Start in the middle. Work backward.
  • Ask for or seek out additional training on your content or technique so you have new perspective on what you’re doing.
  • Change the appearance of the documents on your screen (dark background, light text).
  • Review your process in visual form to see if you can identify extra steps or inefficiencies.
  • Redesign any forms you’re using.
  • Have someone else review your work and suggest areas for improvement.

The bottom line is that there are multiple ways to look at your work and get a fresh perspective.

At Home

You can fall into a rut in your home life, too, whether you’re married, single, a parent, or childless. We set up routines to keep our lives on track and make certain that we’re doing all the things we need to do to keep body and mind together. That doesn’t mean you need for your routine to rule your life. There are changes you can make while still keeping yourself on track.

  • Take a different route to work. I do this one a lot just because I zone out on the roads while driving, and that can be dangerous. A different route makes me pay more attention to my surroundings.
  • Change your exercise routine. If you haven’t been exercising, start. If you have a rigid routine, take a day off or change the order or type of your exercises.
  • Take yourself (or, if applicable, your significant other) on a date somewhere new/different.
  • If you’re a frequent movie goer, change the types of movies you see. Try another genre or foreign-language films.
  • Try a new (reasonably priced) hobby.
  • If you can afford it, take a vacation somewhere you’ve never been before.

Again, a lot of us (not all of us, but enough) can get restless in our routines. And if you’re one of those people who feels more comfortable in your routines, I would suggest that even minor changes can improve what you’re doing, if only to keep you alert to what’s going on.

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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1 Response to Getting Out of a Rut

  1. I learned that it’s possible to move to China to get out of my rut, then to get into a new rut in China. But 19 years later, I still have the cat. I just fed her. That’s her favorite rut.

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