Many people find joy in breaking their daily routines and doing things that are completely spontaneous. Routines are seen as restrictions and spontaneity is seen as liberation.
However, routines can serve an important role in our lives and bring about advantages that we would not enjoy without them. So rather than seeking to escape from routines we should look for a way to combine the benefits of both structure and spontaneity in a single schedule.
This is where Structured Spontaneity can come to the rescue!
Sticking to a single routine that we repeat day in and day out can be boring and numbing to the mind and body. There is nothing new, and everything we face during our days is to be expected, since we’ve experienced it for a number of days already.
But there are several benefits to routines that we need to admit. A couple of benefits:
- No Need to Re-Invent the Wheel: Our daily schedule consists of many choices that can be overwhelming if we try to calculate a decision every day. Routines are decisions that we have made in the past and are re-using because the result is what we want.
- Some Things Need to Be Repeated: We can’t be satisfied with an exercise routine we did 5 years ago. Exercise needs to be done on a regular basis. Routines help us fit in the activities that we should be doing regularly.
Acting spontaneously brings excitement to our day and new experiences that have our minds buzzing with new ideas. We feel active, engaged and enjoying a new decision that we have made, which makes as feel like human beings with free-will, as opposed to the feeling of being a cog in a massive system.
Spontaneity can help us consider new opportunities, experiment with new activities and break out of our comfort zones without feeling anxious or fearful.
The Best of Both Worlds: Structured Spontaneity
Just as routines can offer advantages in some areas, spontaneity would be a poor option in these areas. We cannot base our exercise routine on when we feel like exercising, since exercise, by its nature, requires a level of consistency.
Structured spontaneity is when you use a structure to manage your commitments but varying the content of this structure, or rearranging the times you carry out your activities.
What does that mean in practical terms?
1- You begin by looking at the things that you would like to do on a regular basis (exercise, going out with the family, seeing friends, etc) and deciding how regularly you wish to do them.
This will be a list that’s separate from your calendar because you want to keep a reminder for yourself of what these activities are (and there’s a likelihood you forget them once the week or the month passes by)
2- For the time slot that you have allocated for each activity, you can either decide to do something new in that time (e.g. take your family to a place you’ve never been to before) or change the time of that time slot (e.g. rather than make the family outing on Saturday, move it to the evening on Tuesday)
This way, the activities that are meant to be repeated on a regular basis are done on a regular basis but not too rigidly in order to make room for variation without compromising the essence of each activity.