25 Ways to Break the Cycle of Routine


I woke up this morning like any other morning: tired, crusty eyed, and not sure what day of the week it is. And like every morning, I got up, put on my glasses, made my way to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, showered, looked up the weather on my phone, figured out what attire works best for the day’s events, took my good ole’ time reading emails, almost got out of the house on time and made my way to the train station in a speedy and most-likely-somewhat-illegal fashion. I have made this my routine for every morning. I wake up tired, put on my glasses, make my way to the bathroom, brush my teeth, shower, look up the weather— it has become a routine that is so boring, that even copying and pasting it just now was dreadful, let alone seeing it for a second time in this paragraph.

I know I can’t be the only one who has a morning routine like this. It’s very common. It’s easy. It’s comfortable. Some people enjoy having a routine to fall back on. It’s a foundation for our lifestyles that keeps us stable and in control. It gives our minds a break from the everyday chores and helps us focus on the bigger and more thought-intensive tasks. But when routine becomes habit and makes your mind go numb, then you should assume that something is wrong.

Routines should not rule our lives. Routines are not meant to be absolute. American society has made an easy routine for your average employed person to follow: you wake up, get ready for work, hit morning rush hour, work from 9 am till 5 pm, then you hit evening rush hour, you get home, have dinner, maybe spend some time with the family and then it’s off to bed and we start over again. This isn’t enough—people need to keep their minds active as well as their spirits. Your creative output lessens when you’re tired. It doesn’t matter what profession you’re in, we all have a little spark of creativity in how we do things that keeps us going. When your brain is on autopilot, creative block is more prominent.

So, in the spirit of amplifying the creative side of the mind and getting you out of your boring and tiring routine, here’s 25 ways that the average 9 to 5, 5-days-40-hours-a-week person can break that constricting cycle and keep their brain active:

  1. Ever have grapefruit? Don’t care for citrus? Try oatmeal instead of your favorite multi-colored cereal.
  2. I know that giving up coffee is hard, but maybe you can try something not as strong like green tea. It’s a very soothing start to the morning and you won’t go through a crazy caffeine high.
  3. Take the dog out for a walk in the morning instead of the evening. It’ll help wake you both up and make you ready to tackle the new day. Don’t have a dog? Teach your cat what a leash and fresh air is, and take the cat for a drag. [Note: Don’t try this unless you enjoy being clawed to pieces. To each their own.]
  4. Try public transportation if you don’t already use it, or if you do, try another method of public transportation. There are buses, trains, trollies, taxies, subways, segways, weird duck-boat things, etc. So many ways to get around!
  5. Get yourself engaged in some small-talk with a stranger (use your best judgement when picking a stranger for this one). Perhaps the person next to you on the train or bus or someone you notice at the train station every morning will want to chat.
  6. Do someone a small good deed for someone. It’s not too much to ask. You’ll find that it leaves you with a warm, fuzzy, and rewarding feeling.
  7. Tip your barista. That’ll definitely make their day. Heck, it might even make their week!
  8. Walk down a street you’ve never been down before (again, use your best judgement and don’t take the dark alley). There’s so much to be seen and noticed, you just need to take the time to do it.
  9. Switch up your desktop setup or settings. Maybe a new background or screensaver. Get a new mouse or keyboard that actually clicks and types.
  10. Organize a fun event at work. It could be a fundraiser for a charity you care about, or a nice lunch for your department or teammates.
  11. Talk to someone at work whom you usually don’t talk to. Maybe someone from another team or even another company in your building
  12. Pull a harmless prank on someone your next-cubicle-work-mate. Here’s a list of 16 brilliant ones: http://mashable.com/2015/03/31/office-pranks-april-fools-day/Or just go watch The Office. That show basically has at least 50 of the best ones right there.
  13. Do some at-your-desk exercises to keep that bod in check or recycle your old desk chair for a new yoga ball instead.
  14. Take a bathroom break. Seems like this should go unsaid but really, you’d be surprised.
  15. Plan dinner before you even get home—go out and pick up some fresh ingredients during your lunch hour or surf Pinterest for a new recipe.
  16. Actually, that lunch hour can be used for a lot of things besides just lunch (it’s the treat-yo-self wild card). Go for a walk. Get a pedicure. Amaze your coworkers with your fresh new haircut.
  17. Plan your next vacation and daydream about it just a little. Don’t get too distracted from your work, but a small break to daydream is appropriate every now and then.
  18. Clean your desk in the morning and/or at the end of the day. It’ll leave you feeling a bit more relaxed and organized. You’ll be prepared for the day ahead.
  19. Try a new place for lunch. Leave the packed stuff at home. Trust me when I say that your lunchbox won’t feel neglected.
  20. Buy some flowers or new desk swag! Cool little toys and trinkets can always lighten up your day and be great decor for your desk space. You spend so much time at work anyway, might as well make it feel homey.
  21. Wear something crazy, perhaps your best conversation starter piece (but still work appropriate).
  22. Try working at home every Friday to give yourself a break from the office
  23. Ever try yoga after work? It’ll help you unwind and find a new sense of clarity.
  24. Not into the whole yoga thing? Go out to the pub with your coworkers for a beer or two. It’s a different kind of unwinding, but it works too!
  25. Change your bedtime routine. Try going to bed early if you’re a late-sleeper. Maybe even a new toothpaste or shaving before bed. Give yourself some sleeping-in time by showering the night before or having your clothes already picked out for the next day. Your body needs sleep to rest and to alleviate that tired feeling you get.

See that? 25 ways to break the cycle! That’s only a quarter of a hundred I could have listed. The possibilities are endless. I’m certain you can find your own ways out of the loop too! Happy spontaneity!

Basma Abouelenein 

Powerful at all things visual. Gelato addict and avocado lover (not necessarily at the same time). Amateur botanist and general plant enthusiast.  



Copywriting and concert fanatic. Unrepentant seltzer water and sushi addict. Was actually the kid who brought stray animals home.