Routine or Rut-ine?

April 04, 2011

I was standing in the shower, puddle of body wash in one hand, nylon pouf in the other when I remembered that I hadn’t yet put the John Frieda glaze in my hair. This glaze requires three minutes of time on the hair to do its job, according to the packaging, and therefore during my shower, it must go on before the body wash step for it to have that time. My mind had been elsewhere, apparently, because OMG! I’ve already reached body wash stage and I HAVEN’T YET PUT THE GLAZE IN MY HAIR!

Armageddon. (This is what it’s like to be me.)

(Let me back up and explain the importance of the JF glaze in my life. My hair is thick and coarse, and the minute it detects any humidity in the air, it doubles in size like a frightened cat. Let me remind you I live in Florida, and it’s a rare day when the humidity isn’t detectable. Using this glaze helps keep my hair under at least partial control.)

So I stood there in the shower, debating—put down the pouf, put the glaze in my hair and hope I leave it on long enough, even though I’ve clearly missed the ideal moment? (I’ve never actually timed the process, so maybe I NEVER leave it in long enough, who knows?) Do I skip the glaze altogether? (Nope, today I’m running errands and going out to dinner so the hair needs all the anti-frizz help it can get).

Routines can be helpful, essential, even. Routines and habits offer comfort and stability. Having a routine to deal with daily tasks can often speed them up and make you more efficient. I can shower, dry my hair, put on makeup, dress and be out the door in half an hour (on a good, non-glaze-dilemma day) and routine is what enables me to do that. Laundry and cleaning have their routines. Without them, I’d be buried in filth.

Many small and sometimes unnoticed routines add pleasure to the day. They become rituals that add to the beauty of life. I spend the first half-hour of my day with coffee, a few bites of scone or muffin, and a notebook and pen. I love this ritual and find it centers me before I begin to work.

Routines can become ruts, however. Ruts can make you feel bored, trapped, or locked into a certain path and unable to alter the course of life. (Or they can leave you feeling plain silly while you stand in the shower with body wash dripping down your arm.)

It pays to examine routines now and then to see if they still serve you, or to see if you’ve become slave instead of master. My shower/glaze moment reminded me that I’m in charge of my routines, not the other way around. It’s also possible you’ve stuck with a routine that has become outdated—your life has changed, but your routine hasn’t, and maybe it should.

Also, occasionally stepping outside routine makes life more interesting and exciting, keeping routines from becoming ruts. You might change anything from the route you take to work to the day you do your grocery shopping. Order a different sandwich at your favorite lunch spot…or choose another lunch spot altogether. Listen to a different type of music, read a magazine you wouldn’t normally pick up, or stop into that little antiques store you keep promising yourself you’ll visit. Maintain the routines that keep your life humming along, but also do something “different” every week—or even every day!

Now I’m off to take a shower…and I won’t forget the glaze.

What are some of your favorite routines? What rut(s) would you like to escape from? What small change can you make to liven up your life?

You Might Also Like


  1. Oh my, thanks for the laughter! Outstanding post.

    I seem to have a love/hate relationship with many of my routines and prefer to call them systems. That may be semantics to you, but to me, it's the difference between failure and success. When I feel that I HAVE to do something the same way, the same day, the same time, I fail. When I set up a system to accomplish something with the rigors of day, time AND/OR action, I do better.

    Now, if I could just learn to break some really nasty habits, like piling stuff on my desk, I'd be a much happier camper!

  2. Laure--I like the idea of systems--it's more flexible. I don't know about you, but if I feel I HAVE to do things a certain way, all the time, I can get rebellious, and then, of course, whatever-it-was doesn't get done.

    When you figure out how to beat that desk piling thing, be sure to let me know...

  3. Routines for daily tasks help me a lot as I tend to daydream. I am out of my normal habitat right now as I am in California visiting (babysitting dogs for a couple of days during this visit) so I should make a list of what I am doing today. So far I just keep telling myself "don't forget, don't forget" and that keeps me from starting a journal painting or anything. I can really get flustered when my routines are shaken up but yes, bored if they don't get shaken on occasion. Yin yang is so apt at times!

    Hope your hair didn't frizz up on you! I cut mine short because of that but now that it's thinning I wonder if I could try it longer again... nah, it'd change my easy care routine :)!

  4. Timaree--I daydream a lot too! (That's probably what happened in the shower.) Definitely the routines help keep me focused.

    I'm jealous that you're in CA. That's where I'm from originally (hi, Mom, hi Dad!) and I miss it still. Hope you have a great trip!