We all know that sometimes you get in a rut. Sometimes you just get so focused on what you know, what processes you have already that you continue to do the same thing day after day, time after time. The more you do the same thing, the less enjoyment you get out of it. Unless your product or process deals with various items frequently, you will eventually devolve into just another mindless machine.
So what you need to do periodically is poke your head up from the routine. Something caught your eye, and it’s time to inspect it. Whether it is a five minute trip through a different aisle at the store, or a book you haven’t read before, or a video you were told about online, you need to experiment. This experimentation can alter your perspective on the routine you have been in, and might even bring some unintended improvements to your projects.
That’s not to say that poking your head up is without danger. To leave the safe, warm confines of your burrow is to open yourself up to injury, distraction, or exploitation. While you continue to trundle along in your usual routine, you also insulate yourself from outside danger. You are safe in your little cage, protected from injury, saved from embarrassment. Everything is comfortable, safe, familiar.
But familiarity breeds complacency. If you ate your breakfast the same way all the time, it becomes just another routine. If you walked the same way (and in the same places), you will wear out holes in the steps but not the whole steps. Water does this all the time to rocks: a drip can carve out a divot in concrete or stone below. Some of those ice caves started out as a simple spray from the lake finding a hollow in the rock. After a period of time (and aided by freezing weather), hollows and cracks started to appear. One thing leads to another, and it becomes a cave.
By not poking your head out of your burrow, you are simply digging further into the rock. That is not always a bad thing, but it is not always good, either. The further down you go, the more you undermine your foundation. Eventually, you are left with one or two repetitive tasks that are no longer fun.
Sticking your head out can be painful. You don’t know what’s out there, you don’t know who’s going to be on your side or not. But if you don’t try something new, you won’t learn something. Perhaps there’s someone out there who already does what you do, but does it differently. Maybe that person holds the secret to improving your process. Maybe you hold the secret they need. Maybe there is a photo on the wall nearby that will inspire you to try something completely different, and out of the norm.
This is one of the reasons why I love having this little furry inspiration around the house. Sure, she’s a night-time critter, and when I’m bedding down is right at the time she wants to get her exercise on the wheel. Sure, the wheel is off-center, and bangs every time she runs. Sure, the other wheels squeak and rattle. But she has altered the routine. She has added something new to the life. It was because we now have a hamster in the house that I’ve had to adopt new processes of video consumption (so I don’t wake her in the middle of the afternoon, her 3:00 AM) that I’ve discovered a need for a tech charging station to double as a display stand. It is in the exploration process of finding things for her that I find things I had not considered before.
It is in the observation that she needs change frequently, because even a hamster can be bored. And if I can change things for the hamster to keep her mind active, I can do the same for me.