Member Update: Routine or Rut?

4 minute read

I love what I do. I love writing and teaching. I love planning content. I’ve even learned to enjoy marketing myself.

But even though I love most aspects of my work, there are still times when things feel a little stale. Over the years, I’ve found when that “stale” feeling sets in, it’s best not to ignore it.

Now, you know I love routines. They keep me organized and motivated. Having set routines for different parts of my day and different sets of tasks is how I stay on top of things. Healthy routines are essential to my business and to my being able to fully enjoy the freedom that comes with being a freelance writer.

But if I notice things feeling a little stale, I know I need to do one of two things. I either need to take a break from my routines or I need to retool them… otherwise I run the risk of falling into a rut.

At this point, you may be wondering… what’s the difference between a routine and a rut?

Well, a routine has a positive effect. It helps you to focus and gives you momentum. A rut, on the other hand, drains your motivation and saps your creative energy. When you’re in a rut, it can feel like you just don’t want to do anything.

Recognizing when you’re getting in a rut early can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed, procrastinating more than usual, and the stress that comes with those things.

The first signs of getting into a rut tend to be:

  • Low energy
  • Lack of excitement
  • Feeling uncreative
  • No sense of purpose

If you’re feeling any of those things, one of the first things to do is check in with your routines to see if they’re still serving you.

If you find that you’re going through your routines mindfully and still enjoying the benefits you hoped to get when you set them up, then they’re probably working fine. But if you feel bored or listless — like you’re just going through the motions — then it might be time to adjust your routines or reinvent them entirely.

Usually, I start by taking a break from a routine for a few days, just to see how that feels.

Sometimes that’s enough to reestablish the value of the routine and get me out of my rut.

But sometimes, that break makes it clear the routine is no longer working for me.

In that case, I take a step back. I think about what I want in a routine, what I want it to accomplish, if I still need it at all. I review what’s in my existing routines that’s still helpful. I get rid of the parts I don’t need. Sometimes I retool entirely.

There’s something refreshing and energizing about creating a new routine. If you’re feeling a little detached from your work, try taking a moment to review and update your routines.

Sometimes, that’s all you need to get back on track and feel good about your business again.

Even better, make reflecting on your routines a regular habit (every quarter or so), and you’ll keep your motivation and excitement for what you do running high.

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That’s all for now. Tell me about your favorite routines and tips for breaking free from ruts in the comments.