I’ve always been a big fan of switching up routines.

Whether it’s the layout of our apartment, the way I get to work, or where I go out to eat, I regularly try to see out variety wherever possible. Part of this is a personal problem: I get bored very easily. (I always have.)

Of course, there are a few requirements needed before you can “switch up” your routine — which is that you need to have one to start with. If you don’t have a regular consistent schedule, then the variety you introduce won’t stand out. If every day is completely different from the day before, then you lose out on opportunities to notice when “newness” gets introduced into the picture.

So there’s a question in the balance. How much do you hold constant? How much do you switch things up? (And then, naturally, how often do you change the formula?)

For the past six months or so, I’ve established more of a morning routine than I’ve ever had in my life to date. Part of this was due to environmental conditions. We moved into a new apartment last year that actually had room for both a table and a couch in our living room. This meant, rather than hustle up to sneak out of the apartment and off to work before my husband woke up, I had space to have coffee at home.

This one little moment — having coffee at home — completely flipped everything about how I started my days.

Now, my mornings look a little like this:

  • Wake up
  • Shower
  • Make coffee
  • Set up work station
  • Write something over a cup of coffee
  • Read emails for the day
  • Get dressed and go to work

I no longer get to work by 8 a.m. I now walk in between 9 and 9:30 a.m. And it’s made a huge difference in my emotional and mental health.

Last night, we hosted guests in our apartment. We haven’t really done this much since moving into our new space. (It’s still a NYC apartment, after all, and we don’t have a second bed or pull-out couch.)

So, while I still woke up early, I felt weird about starting my coffee grinder and potentially waking up our friends. So instead, I skipped the coffee and hung around in the living room for longer than usual.

By 10 a.m., I was famished (and caffeine-deprived), so I decided to break from my “usual” weekend routine (of a late lunch around 2 p.m.) and take myself out for brunch. I decided upon Cafe Luxembourg, a local French bistro that I’d read about but never visited.

Within 5 minutes of sitting down at the bar and ordering myself a coffee, I ran into a fellow member of a non-profit board that I’m a part of. We ended up catching up over drinks, each sharing a bit about the projects we were all working on. After that, I chatted with another couple over brunch, learning about what first brought them to NYC and getting the down-low on all of the local lore of this restaurant. By the time I left, I’d befriended the bartender, held court for nearly two hours, and enjoyed a great brunch.

Even though it was my first time dining there, I learned pretty early on that Cafe Luxembourg holds a special places in local lore. Just goes to show that breaking your routine may end up with you stumbling onto someone else’s. And that’s a pretty great way to stretch your own perspective, even in your own neighborhood.

Originally published at Dry Erase.

GM @USV, alum of @StackOverflow and @NorthwesternU, board member at @CompSci_High and @NUalumni, co-founder of #BeyondCodingNYC

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