Most people today are knowledge workers.
I know I am.
One of the biggest challenges–over the long-term–is to stay creative; to keep your brain engaged and fresh, as opposed to becoming mechanical from the likes of computer overuse, office work, and various routine tasks.
I believe the best way of dealing with this is by coming up with different practices for breaking out of homeostasis on a regular basis.
The two simplest ways of doing this are by consciously inducing variation and novelty into your daily routine. This jolts your prefrontal cortex awake and snaps you out of habituation, putting you into a state of attentiveness. [footnote] (Not only does this make life more enjoyable, but it also increases BDNF and therefore makes you better at learning stuff.) [/footnote]
How do you do it?
Basically, you find ways to vary what you’re already doing or come up with new weird/fun stuff to try. As opposed to going through the daily motions.
7 General Examples That Anyone Can Use:
The following advice is similar: Minimalist, but potent…
Use these tricks to keep your brain AWAKE & ENGAGED:
- Change how you sleep: a) The direction of your bed. b) Or its location in the room; try moving it to the very center for a few nights just to see how it feels. c) Try changing to a new room.
- Change how/where you work: Start by experimenting with small tweaks in your current work location (turn the computer screen, try using a stand-up desk for a week, sit in an armchair, insist on doing walking meetings). Try working from a new location. Try working in a public environment (such as a coffee shop) versus working for yourself in isolation.
- Change how you commute: Choose to walk to work. Ride a bike. Or take the bus/subway/taxi, if you ordinarily don’t do that. See if/how this new start of the day shapes the rest of it… If you work from home, take a break midday where you go for a walk somewhere new each and every day. Maybe buy some roller blades to use if you’re particularly quirky.
- Change your daily routine: What might happen if you’d wake up one hour earlier than usual? Maybe start the day by reading. How about if–the night before–you always prepared your clothes for the morning after? (or if you purchased 10x of the same clothes, so you didn’t have to spend willpower on making clothing decisions every day.)
- Change how/what you eat: Can you eat with chopsticks? Try new foods on purpose from time to time. I normally try to eat quite healthy, but sometimes I eat unhealthy food on purpose . . . just to pepper my life with variation.
- Change how you work out: Routinely change[footnote] I guess that’s an oxymoron? [/footnote] the exercises you perform and come up with weird new records to induce variation and keep dopamine + testosterone high. This is paramount for maintaining a winner effect long-term motivation.
- Change how you learn: Read a book (if you don’t already). Do a book summary. Listen to a podcast. Vary the way that you learn from time to time. . . then return to your favorite method with increased appreciation for the process.
Now for some hardcore stuff…
12 Specific Examples for Homeostasis Breakers:
- Try a new haircut. Or comb your hair the other way you usually do.
- Wear new clothes that are in complete contrast to the sort of clothes you would usually wear. If you wear office clothing, wear some Hiphop/Hippie clothes. Colorful clothes. An emperor purple cape. Maybe a mystical molester coat.
- Wear different shoes. That is, non-matching ones. Summer vs winter shoe.
- Walk barefoot.
- Try fasting for a day if you’re a “normal” multiple-meals-per-day-person.
- Go a day without coffee if you normally drink it every day.
- Use zero technology for a day. That includes your phone.
- Wear contact lenses if you normally wear glasses. And vice versa. (Or give either one a try–if you’re blessed with perfect eyesight.)
- Try writing with your left hand for a day. And vice versa (if you’re a naturally dominant right-hander.)
- Try writing on the keyboard using another language (as the default setting) for a day.
- Try writing on your phone without autocorrect. Or vice versa, if you don’t use it.
Drive on the wrong side of the road.