9 small changes to break free from your monotonous 9-to-5 routine

For me, the worst part about monotony has always been the way it disconnects me from my senses.

It leaves me feeling ungrounded – which can be frustrating because not having a routine can do that too!

The happy middle? Microdosing on change!

Because as it turns out, there are small ways to bring back the spark.

And here are 9 of those so you can keep the balance without questioning your entire life. 

Although it wouldn’t hurt to do so sometimes.

1) Understand the value of challenging yourself

This is more of a general sentiment that I wanted to share before I got into everything.

Like I mentioned, monotony makes my soul suffer.

My ego starts attaching itself to what’s around me. Therefore creating a false idea of myself and what I’m capable of.

In return, I become easily irritable and frustrated with every little thing that goes wrong because I am so used to everything going the way I want them to.

It sounds exhausting to try something new on top of your busy life. But the point is to value your sanity over everything because monotony brings the same exhaustion.

You’re just remaining unaware of it because you’ve convinced yourself that you’re in control by knowing what to expect from your day to day.

Now that’s out of the day, let’s break it down.

2) Doodle during your breaks

Speaking of breaking it down, how are you spending your breaks during work hours?

That’s a great place to start making little changes without disrupting your routine too much.

You should eat during your meal breaks. But beyond lunch, something like doodling for 10 minutes can help you get the creative juices going without losing momentum.

And while you could actually doodle because it’s been scientifically proven to give your brain a “productive break,” it’s a metaphor for similar activities.

Like playing Solitaire for a hot minute, or a mini office dance party if they allow it…

I don’t know how to exactly explain it, but trust me on this. Sometimes what you need to calm your mind isn’t nothingness disguised as rest. 

It’s a little oscillation to inspire you out of a rut.

3) Have alternating routines

This can mean a bunch of different things.

You could have mornings where you make yourself a nice breakfast, and some mornings where you treat yourself to something from Starbucks.

That should keep you looking forward to something as simple as a trip to your favorite coffee shop without becoming accustomed to such a “luxury.”

Or you could even take a different route on your way home by looking for scenic alternatives. 

The point here is that you find something that makes you value the little things, and turn it into something valuable.

And as you get used to the idea of variation, it’s time to introduce even more of it by trying new things outside of your work life.

4) Pick up small hobbies

zodiac who make hard things in life look easy 9 small changes to break free from your monotonous 9-to-5 routine

Try a new recipe every Thursday! Or start a puzzle to do for an hour after work!

Even a little gardening if you really want to give your soul something to feel cheerful about.

These changes only seem big if you think too much about the end result. Try finding value in the process and you’ll reap much more than that.

What happens to a lot of people with a 9-5 is that they start becoming a product of how they spend their time. It’s just a part of being human, we are all sponges to different degrees.

And your perception is heavily influenced by how you feel – you’d be surprised by how differently you see yourself once you achieve things beyond your career.

Not to mention, these hobbies can help you meet new people that aren’t your coworkers or family and friends.

5) Make new friends

This might not seem like a small change depending on how social you consider yourself.

But just by opening yourself up to new experiences, finding new connections will come naturally. 

Like if you decide to do painting workshops, there’s always going to be fun people you can meet over a glass of wine and pigments.

And I’m just here to encourage you to go with the flow.

Even if you already have a good circle of friends, it’s always good to meet new people and expand your perspectives. 

So go with the intention of learning something new, you might actually find something or someone you didn’t know you were missing.

6) Set new and realistic health goals

Sure, there are so many things that can help you improve your overall lifestyle.

But putting some of that effort into improving your physical health can be extremely rewarding – especially if you take it nice and slow. 

I think body image and physical health can be an overwhelming subject because there’s this expectation to succeed and have results. Almost like work!

But I hereby give you permission to throw all those unhealthy expectations out of the window and make healthier choices just for yourself.

Something as small as drinking more water throughout the day, or as simple as running once a week.

Whatever floats your boat, this can be a project that you do in order to test your limits little by little. And while you do what you do, take note of your progress.

Not in how you look, but how you feel. 

Notice how human it is to be challenged and relish in that.

7) Plan small trips

Traveling doesn’t have to be a luxurious getaway to a tropical country for it to be enjoyable.

In fact, I’d say it’s almost like an artistic practice to see the world on a budget. One that forces you to try new things like couchsurfing, or recently for me: hostels!

And if we really want to talk about artistic practices, camping should definitely be on the list.

Even if you don’t consider yourself the outdoorsy type, I’d say that’s even more of a sign that you should try it.

Because if you’re needing a break from monotony, your comfort zone is not where you should be.

But I digress! 

Pack light and go see someplace new even if that’s a city over as a day trip. And forget about all the tourist traps. 

Talk to the locals and find out what they do for fun! Ditch the restaurants and cook small but mighty meals yourself.

Then go home, watch how the monotony of life pales in comparison to the rest of the world – and get excited to do it all over again. 

8) Incorporate mindfulness into your life

youre more mindful than you think 9 small changes to break free from your monotonous 9-to-5 routine

This is where you could incorporate some nothingness into your life.

Not that that’s what mindfulness is. But if you’re used to working most of the year on auto pilot, becoming aware of your present can feel like you’re facing the void of existence.

And I wanted to save this one for after I talked about all the other points because some people use mindfulness to bypass their discomfort.

Almost like a band-aid for their problems. 

But that only creates a harsh dichotomy between your work and life balance where you’re either okay or not okay. 

Mindfulness should be something that helps you deepen your understanding of yourself! Easing your anxiety is just one of the awesome byproducts.

So whether you journal, meditate or focus on your senses for a portion of your day, make sure you have a reality you want to go back to.

A place where your mindfulness can be put to good use and you can experience the present to the fullest.

9) Ask for support

If you wanted to break free from monotony without consequences, I’m afraid you were mistaken.

What naturally happens as you make little changes is that you make room for certain realizations to occur.

Think of little circuits becoming lit up again as you feel excited about life. And you might become aware of what works and doesn’t work for you within the life you’ve built.

This is normal and it’s important you don’t ignore your emotions. It doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. If anything, it’s the opposite.

Ask for support from work or your friends and family if you believe that you’re becoming burnt out trying to make time for yourself.

Like I said, being challenged comes with growing pains that are a testament to your perception growing.

Remember, big changes are just a bunch of little ones

If you’re just starting out in your career working a 9-5, there will be a learning curve where you question your life choices.

You might feel like you’re giving up everything you’ve enjoyed in your youth, and wonder when it’s going to feel easy.

And these suggestions can help you feel less like a slave to the machine, but they’ll also keep you from feeling comforted by it. 

It’s a double edged sword, and since we’re at the end of this blog, I leave you with this: 

If you’re feeling challenged, it’s a sign you’re alive. Cherish it by remaining curious about life. 

And if you’re questioning things, you’re doing something right.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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