I personally find routine takes a huge toll on my energy level. That being said, it’s far too easy to fall into routine with a college schedule, an internship, or a 9-5 office job. My work is immediately stripped of meaning once it becomes lodged in muscle memory. I’ll find myself glancing at the clock, waiting for the weekend. And while the urge to escape the monotony of everyday living is perfectly valid, it’s certainly avoidable. We shouldn’t waste our lives waiting, but rather find substance in the here and now.
It’s more than cliche to advise you all to “live in the present” but I’ve found it has a huge impact on my emotional well being. It’s one of those banal expressions that you’ve heard entirely too often to take to heart. Take a step back, though, and you’ll notice it’s a similar situation with work and falling into routine: you’ve done the same work entirely too often to take it to heart.
Here are my best tips to remain grounded in the everyday work you do.
Make frequent changes.
You may have a strict routine for office hours, but it doesn’t have to be that way when you’re off the clock. Spark some excitement after work or outside the classroom. This might include visiting a new museum, finally checking out the coffee shop on the corner, rearranging your furniture, or even dying your hair. The feeling of doing something new, without fail, lifts my attitude. I’m aware everything is temporary–the good and the bad–so I strive to be comfortable with change.
Reading must be one of the easiest habits to drive excitement into your life. Even if you pick up a book every day, something different always happens. Reading is a great way to take a step back from your current situation. Just 30 minutes in the protagonist’s shoes can make your world come alive, because you’re experiencing a reality outside of your own. It adds perspective and dimension to any routine, not to mention, it’s extremely relaxing.
During my freshman year, I made one of the most significant decisions that has come to shape me: I joined the Buddhism Club at Boston College. This was so valuable, not only in fostering a sense of healthy community, but in teaching me to be mindful. For those of you who are unfamiliar, mindfulness is, in essence, awareness of what’s presently going on. That means paying attention to your surroundings, thoughts, and physical senses. Believe me when I say mindfulness is the cure to a draining routine. Instead of focusing all your energy on finishing a task, redirect your attention on the act of actually doing the task. This will tear your attention away from the end result, and allow you to enjoy the current task at hand. Thich Nhat Hanh, a famous Buddhist monk and author, illustrates mindfulness with the example of “washing the dishes to wash the dishes”, not to enjoy a cup of tea afterward.
Surround yourself with the right people.
College opened my eyes to the array of people out there. Each individual has something unique to offer, and you need to find the ones that put you in the best mood. We all have that one buddy that doesn’t know how to do anything except complain. Cut those types of people out of your daily schedule. It’ll lift your spirits instantly.
Do something you’ve been meaning to do for a while.
A routine can create barriers between ourselves and our goals. Set a weekend for yourself to finally do something you’ve had your mind on. That could be anything from organizing your pantry to going skydiving with your favorite uncle. Whatever it is, it will make you feel purposeful and productive again.
Take note of how far you’ve come.
Don’t forget all the hard work you put in to get where you are now. You might be bored with your internship every now and again, but remember all that you did to secure it. You studied hard in school. You took on leadership roles in your extracurriculars. You managed to balance a full course load with a part-time job. These are small achievements to be celebrated! Never discredit yourself for them. The same can be said of your current standing. Maybe you’re tired of making powerpoints everyday at work. But does your job offer health benefits? Do you have a comfortable income? Are your co-workers friendly? It’s easy to overlook all our privileges as employees, students, human beings. Give yourself and your circumstances some appreciation, even if they feel monotonous from time to time.
When it comes down to it, 90% of our lives are the mundane things like walking to class, cleaning up after our dogs, or working with yet another excel spreadsheet. So, we need to find value in these moments that make up such a huge portion of our existences. I hope these tips shed some light on that process.
Joelle Resnik is a student at Boston College pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in both Economics and Communications. She will try to tell you she kayaks in her free time, but you can most definitely find her napping. Don’t confuse her for her twin sister.