3 mins read

Routine is the death of creativity

When what helps hinders

Routine vs Structure

This past 2 weeks I’ve been struggling to find the gold moments in my working day, the magic that fuels me. The unexpected thoughts that come-forward from my unconscious mind have not been appearing. Last night I realised why… it was the negative affect of ‘routine’.


The thing that has been helping me was now hindering me


Covid has changed things for all of us and with it we have changed, we have changed how, where and when we work. To help me get through the many tasks I have on my ever growing to do list I have created a routine. A methodology for ordering my day to ‘get shit done’. And it has worked. Its worked really well. As a sole trader I work across multiple clients in differing sectors with varying demands. To make sure I don’t let them down I have focused on the ‘process’ of ‘doing the work’…

BUT…. And it’s a big but for me.

This way of operating has left me without the magic moments. The bit I really love about my brain is – when I let it play with thoughts alone, without structure or routine it always surprises me. It always gives me something to be joyful and excited about. It gives me my ‘what next’ project. But there have been few surprises lately – what you may refer to as eureka moments.

So is it time to break routine?

Yes, well maybe! like I say routine has helped me get things done for the people that need stuff from me. So what I will do is switch out ‘routine’ for ‘structure’. You may think this is just semantics but its not. It’s not just a play on words. It’s a play on your day and your diary. It’s a playfulness your creative side will thank you for…


Routine is – a sequence of actions/activities regularly followed. Tasks are lined up, done in order. Even breaks are sequenced and planned-in. Monday becomes your every-day. Unvarying, habitual and unimaginative. A rote procedure built for efficiency and not creativity.


You become a machine of the environment


Structure is – the arrangement of interrelated parts. The key here is noticing the relationship between parts and working on those in an order. However with structure you get to decide the order and the placement of the work within a day or week. Tuesday is not a copy of Monday, it is its own day with its own melody.


You become the master of your machine

Managed Distraction

With this ‘structure’ style approach comes a greater responsibility and accountability for your ways of working. We have to ‘manage distraction’ and make sure at the end of the day the right work gets done (not just the work we want to do). You must order work in a way that can balance the task ‘needing to be done’ and having the right energy to ‘get these done (WELL)’.

Doing tasks with poor energy (and thought) can be worse to you and your business than failing to get things done at all.


Rather be late and be good than be on time and be bad.


We are effectively inviting ambiguity and maybe in the eyes of others ‘chaos’ into our working day. This approach is less procedural, or process driven. It may even be considered as less efficient. However, I would argue there is no point being efficient at doing the wrong thing. Ploughing ahead with what you know misses all the opportunities of the unknown that could serve you better.


To keep things on track, working this way requires you to know all the tasks that need to be completed and when. Be diligent with this and you will then be afforded the freedom to order how tasks look in a day and/or week. A fluidity that your unconscious mind is gagging for.


This approach gives rise to rabbit holes, disturbance and multidirectional thought, unplanned conversations and the switching in and out of work (reordering and re-sequencing). HoweverContact this is where the gold lies.

In closing

Where possible allow yourself to choose the work that fits with your daily, weekly, monthly melody. Follow the energy you have and match your work to this. You will produce a better-quality output, have a greater depth of thought which will lead to better outcomes in the end. It just might look a little chaotic from the outside. But with personal accountability and a diligence about your work in time the world you work in will trust your method (and your magic will prevail).

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