Eight Ways to Make Intentional Choices about Everyday Routines

By looking at our photo collections, it seems like the “important” stuff of life takes place at big events and special occasions. While we enjoy those memorable times, the majority of each of our lives plays out in ordinary day-to-day tasks that rarely get documented. In fact, my daily round looks a lot like yours and everyone else’s. 

Instead of cruise-controlling through the day, changing up the often-mindless actions with fresh intentional choices can add meaning and delight to the “ordinariness” of it all. After nearly a year of Covid isolation, any kind of change might be welcome!

Here are Eight Ways to Make Intentional Choices about Everyday Routines:

1. Waking Up: We all do that!  Instead of setting the alarm to allow just enough time to get to work, how else would you like to use your morning?  Writing?  Praying? Walking? Delving into creativity?  Unless you have a little one, you get to choose the time you get up! Your mental well-being for the day starts here.

2. Getting dressed: It’s easy to get into a uniform routine most mornings.  Most of us wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time.  What else is in your drawers or closet? Can you take a minute the night before to choose what to wear the next day out the usual rotation? Sometimes our own clothing sends signals to ourselves and can change our mood and set the tone for the day.

3. Meals:  Dining shows up often during the day and it’s easy to get stuck on autopilot.  Ready for a change? Breakfast can start the night before by boiling eggs, oatmeal could be waiting in a crockpot, or a previously made frittata ready to re-heat to change-up the morning routine.  Can you cook a big pot of something on the weekend to warm up for lunch? Try take-out from a new place? Work on your novel instead of scrolling your phone while eating or later walk around the block or two? Our small choices can shape big outcomes which impact our sense of wellness.
      Chicken again tonight?  Thousands of dinner ideas are available online and in a cookbook you probably own. Could you try a new recipe for one in seven dinners?  Setting the table brightens my spirit and helps me transition into the evening. If you have a variety of dinner plates, switch them up throughout the week. Any change of scenery makes a difference.

4. Work commute: For those of you still going to work rather than sitting at your own table, how much time are you in the car/on the train?  Have you considered taking a different route for a variety?  Listening to an audiobook?  Riding your bike?  Even a change once or twice a week can make a big difference in your perspective and enjoyment.

5. Exercise:  Most of us at least say we went to incorporate more movement.  Do you get bored?  I sure do.  Try mixing up your movement with a new online class or working out at a different time of day. Experiment with a new exercise style or running path or at minimum, change your music.  An exciting read on my Kindle or fascinating Podcast keeps me on the treadmill a little longer which brings health to both my mind and body.

6. Reading:  Many of us enjoy a few favorite authors and can slip into a habit of only reading from that small pool.  Deciding ahead of time to choose a new-to-you author or genre each season can open up all sorts of new perspectives which is usually a positive result for your self-image.  Playing around with “Goodreads” can be fun and lead to new book adventures. If you’ve never tried an audio book, give it a go.

7. Talking and listening: Do you know the powerful experience of what starts as an ordinary conversation just taking off into a powerful encounter?  While those generally can’t be scheduled, providing an opportunity to engage in a variety of topics can often open one of those doors. Google “conversation starters” and check out what pops up. Resources like www.tabletopics.com provide prompts for getting started or just write your own set of questions. Your conversation partners will benefit as well.

8. Bedtime: Whether you sleep at night or during the day, everyone crawls into bed at some point. Changing up your bedtime products might help break the boredom.  Might sound crazy but investing in quality, nice smelling products for face cleansing and tooth brushing can make the whole pre-bedtime experience more pleasurable. New PJs can make a difference too. Choosing a good book for your bedside that you will only read at night provides a good going-to-bed incentive. Taking the last moments of the day to reflect on your day with gratitude and resolve can sometimes help with sleep issues.

Rethinking your day-to-day round with intentional choices may not be transformative but can certainly bring a new sense of order and fun. We all could use some of that these days as the wait for a sense of normalcy lingers on.

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Letitia Suk, www.letitiasuk.com, is the author of 100 Need-to-Know Tips for Moms of Tweens and Teens, Getaway with God: The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat, and Rhythms of Renewal. She is a life coach and retreat leader in the Chicago area.