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If you want to get more done, or do things better, check your habits. Routines are useful, but they can also severely limit us. They’re good because they allow us to get things done without thinking about them, which saves time, effort and decision-making. The downside is that routines mean we tend to do things mindlessly.

When we do things mindlessnessly we neither examine the reasons for our actions nor notice what’s going on around us as fully as we might. Its may be handy to be able to knit while watching the telly, or check our emails while listening to the news, but these then drop out of awareness so that we know we can do something but we no longer know how we do it, because it has become automatic. This doesn’t matter with mundane tasks perhaps, but when we go about other things unquestioningly, as a routine, we miss a lot.

Routines blunt our perceptions precisely because they are routines. For anyone interested in living better, becoming more creative or even getting more done, questioning routines should be part of daily life. We need the occasional jolt to nudge us out of the comfort of our habits, enough to get a fresh perspective, find new ways of doing things, or even asking ourselves whether they need to be done at all.

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