Stuck in a Rut

Stuck in a Rut

As I was walking around this last weekend, trying to stay out of the heat while still not being completely lazy (which didn’t work), I was thinking about all of the things that I have to do in the next few months. I have consistent obligations, such as doing weekly book reviews, author interviews, writing videos, this blog, as well as posting and interacting on social media. I am trying to put together good and interesting content for people, and I think the unique nature of the books I’m reading and the people I’m talking with make for such a thing. However, I am also, generally speaking, putting together much of the same information week after week.

This “repetitiveness” could easily get me in a rut. I am still enjoying everything I’m doing and love interacting with people. But it would be possible to get bogged down into the routine. And it got me to thinking: what do you do when you get yourself into a rut of routine and the world suddenly seems boring?

My answer? Step away.

What? How can you step away when you still have these obligations and things to get done? You still have to market your book! You still have to create content and interact with people! There are too many things to be doing for you to step away.

Yes. That is absolutely true. There are many things that need to be done and I still have to get them into my work week. I’m not talking about taking an entire week off without being prepared and ignoring the consequences. I’m talking about an hour or two. An evening. Not the weekend, because we’re already conditioned to think the weekend is different from the work week. But during the part of the work that makes you cringe in annoyance.

Just take a step back. Go do something that is active or self-care related. Take a walk in the woods (out of the heat, if possible). Go bake some muffins. Take a nap. And then, when you’ve stepped away and achieved something that is just for you or your loved ones, you can go back to thinking about your work.

Ask yourself why this matters? Out of all the things you’re doing, what is the most important? For me, the most important part is writing the book. Yes, the YouTube and social media posts are useful and they give me a chance to talk with people who are fascinating and supportive, but they’re not the most important thing I’m meant to be doing. I’m a writer. Therefore, the most important thing to me is writing.

After you’ve determined that, figure out a dedicated time to work on that thing. For me, it’s after lunch and into the afternoon. Then I take a break for dinner and a bit of relaxation. And if I need to finish the writing, I will. But everything else that needs to get done must then get done in the mornings. If it doesn’t get done? That’s okay. Move on to writing. Do the rest tomorrow.

Yes, this is still routine. But you now understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. You’ve taken some distance to bring yourself back to centre. You’ve had a chance to gain perspective on your routine and now you understand it better. And you’re focusing on what’s important rather than what’s merely urgent.

A rut is simply a matter of mind. Routine is useful. It helps us establish a sense of discipline. But it can also get boring. So you have to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. And once you’ve done that, the rut evens itself out and you’re back on track. Possibly with muffins.

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