Why You Should Un-Routine Your Daily Routine

published Sep 22, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Is it too soon for nostalgia? Because I think I have it. The simplest things from pre-Covid life have become bittersweet memories—like getting ready to spend a typical day going to work, or having everyone in the house return home around the dusk like a buzzing hive.

Instead, home has become a haven that I’m grateful for, but that has begun to feel less like an oasis from daily life, and more like the tiresome setting for my life day after day after day.

A thoughtful look at most of my daily routines reveals that their previous purpose is now a bit empty. No wonder doing things the same way I did them six months ago feels hollow. The goal of my routine has shifted under my nose: My morning routine, for instance, is not something I do to get myself out of the house on time anymore. It serves a different purpose now: Helping me mark a transition in my day to keep me feeling present and in-control. After examining the auto-piloted daily routines I took for granted, I began to see that my shifting focus demanded me to change the things I do during these touch points in the day.

Replacing some routines with mindful rituals has helped me feel anchored at home in an outside world that seems adrift. I’ve come to appreciate the value of purposefulness over efficiency even in some of my most mundane tasks and that is something I hope to carry with me well into my personal future new normal.

Identifying this simple shift is the first step to making your routine not only useful in the current reality of your daily life, but also making your routine feel meaningful once again. And infusing your routines with purpose has the power to subtly transform your life at home. Rather than the goal of your routine being aimed at preparation for a day away from home, your routines can focus instead on helping you stay present, peaceful, and grounded.

Here are a few ways I’ve evolved some of my own routines so that they support me during this season in life:

1. My face-washing routine

Rather than washing my face quickly and slapping on my makeup in time for school drop-off, I’ve slowed down this morning ritual and also eliminated a big part of it, most days. I recently picked up a jade roller and running the cold stone on my face not only wakes me up, but relaxes me from the get-go. Does it reduce wrinkles and detox my skin? I don’t know. But makes me feel good and that has many benefits of its own.

I’ve also stopped wearing makeup every day. This gives me extra time for other things in the morning and also allows my skin to breathe. It’s been looking better than it has in a long time, so much so that I feel more confident without makeup than I have in years. Feeling comfortable in my own skin like this is something I definitely want to carry over to when we can be in public and socialize like we did before.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. My coffee routine

My family’s normal weeks pre-Covid had built-in quiet time for me. My kids were either at school or napping and I had at least a couple hours most days to do what I needed to do in blissful silence, giving me time for my mind to wander. But these days, if I want any opportunity to enjoy quiet time alone during the day, I need to get up before the kids. Carving out this time is the only way I have the opportunity to just be.

To help make this happen, my new coffee routine has transformed from an on-the-go guzzle to a slow, meditative experience—sometimes inside with lamps glowing in the pre-dawn stillness, and sometimes on the back porch, with an ear out for the first bird chirps of the day. This is something I’ve always wanted to put into practice, but the current circumstances made it a higher priority for me to fold into my routine. This is another habit I want to keep, even if I pour a second cup into a to-go mug when getting out the door in the morning is a daily thing again.

What new routines do you have?