When one looks up the definitions of the words “routine” and “ritual,” at first it looks like they are pretty much the same thing-a “series of actions performed in a prescribed order.”
But when I delved a bit further, I did find one significant difference that can be a real game changer when it comes to getting things done.
Rituals are considered ceremonial.
We often equate rituals with religion, because there are many rituals that take place during worship, in every religion. But ceremony doesn’t have to just be about prayer or attending services weekly.
We can add elements of rituals to our routines…and that can give us the shot of dopamine to get the job done.
For example, I have a routine for paying my bills. I do it on the 15th of every month, regardless of the day of the week. I write certain expenses out; others I enter on a spreadsheet. At the end of this routine the bills are ready to be auto-paid by my bank.
However, I also have included ritual in this process. I never sit at my desk to do this-I always sit on the bed, where I am comfortable, and can spread out my papers. I always have a large cup of coffee or tea beside me. And generally, “Law and Order SVU” is on in the background.
Now, these components are not really part of the routine for paying bills. But they are part of the ritual. I could pay the bills without them, but it wouldn’t be the same. And while I won’t go so far as to say I look forward to bill paying, the ritual elements do make it far more pleasant, and satisfying.
How can you add ritual elements to your routines? Is it a particular playlist? A special snack? An apron that belonged to your grandmother?
Ritual elements can make routines, well, less routine. And that can help us to keep doing them.
Give it a try!