Is Spontaneity Possible With a Structured Routine?

Is there any room for spontaneity in my life anymore?

Despite craving and loving structure, at times I just want to do something on a whim. Does this sound like any of you? 

My Personal Struggle with Spontaneity VS. Structure

I live with a Type B husband, and spontaneity inspires him. He writes music and takes photos, so his need for inspiration trumps just about everything else. I’ve told him several times that a person can be both structured and creative, but he initially resisted my suggestions of trying to create and maintain a routine. He told me that some things – like sex, for example! – deserve as much time as needed, and shouldn’t fit into a specific timeframe. He’s starting to come around a little, but a part of him still pushes back when it comes to considering regular routines.

Getting really into my own morning and evening routines, I haven’t considered this potential downside. “But I feel so in control of my days and my life”, I thought. However, since he mentioned his concerns, I’ve been struggling with a “glass shattering moment”. Shout out to any How I Met Your Mother viewers here! By this, I mean that moment where you can’t un-see a reality that maybe before you averted your eyes from. Does anyone else wonder how to fit spontaneity and fun into their busy weeks? This question has stuck in my mind for some time now, so thankfully I’ve come up with a few ideas to share with you here. If any of you are in the same boat, fear not! We’ll get through this together.

Scheduling Breaks During the Day

Have any of you ever felt deflated from working toward a goal constantly? I know I have! As an ESL tutor looking to switch careers into the health industry via blogging and YouTube, I can easily run out of steam. My dreams are big, I know, and with that comes consistent hard work. If any of you have done or are trying to do this as well, you’ll know that it proves difficult to keep up with long-term!

However, taking breaks – during a work day and also time away from work in general – can help remedy the day-to-day and long-term fatigue. Not only that, but in those breaks, you can do whatever you feel like! If scrolling feels like the best way to chill out, go for it. Maybe one day, a walk seems more appropriate. Or maybe making a call to a friend. The choice is yours! Whether it’s a 30 minute break or a 7 day vacation, you make all of the decisions.

Perhaps a tip as small as this may help any GATLUW readers feel less overwhelmed by their beautifully crafted schedules!

Leaving at Least One Weekend Day or Evening Totally Free

As much as planning out mornings and weekdays can push the needle when it comes to passion projects, career trajectory in general, and work/life balance, having this same discipline over the weekend can actually make the fun you do plan to have… Well, less fun.

Not only that, but highly motivated individuals – like GATLUW readers, no doubt! – tend to allow any excess work from the week to take precedence over the weekend. This lack of free time, as touched on above, can actually inhibit productivity.

Leaving one day or evening during the weekend totally free allows us to be spontaneous. Maybe you’ll call up an old friend that you haven’t seen in a while, or maybe you’ll even hop in the car (or train, for those of us living in bigger cities) and go somewhere new! This could definitely bring out inspiration for those of us who crave change from the monotony. My husband and I do this frequently, and some of our road trips have helped him expand his scope in photography!

A Quick Side Note: Seeing other people, especially during the COVID-19 era, is vitally important to our mental and even physical health. Yes, even introverts benefit from social activity!  

Track Daily Activities Prior to Scheduling Them

While working out the kinks in my own morning and evening routines, I’d find myself in the middle of doing something in the evening and saying, “OK, I have to go get ready for bed now”. Out of nowhere, my husband would ask, “Seriously? You never go to bed this early… And I wanted to watch this episode with you!”.

For months, this didn’t feel natural at all. Sam prefers to fall asleep later and wake up later, whereas I actually don’t mind either way; both being a night owl and an early bird work for me. However, this usually translates into me staying up late to hang out, at the cost of precious sleep time. Personally, this was – and maybe still is – my biggest struggle with my morning routines. If I can’t get myself to go to bed on time, I won’t wake up on time!

A simple resolution to this would look something like this: by tracking my schedule prior to making morning and evening routines, these changes would feel more natural. I could have then transitioned my bedtime slowly over time, so it wouldn’t feel so sudden and random. Instead of changing my bedtime from 11:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., which feels severe, I could have moved my bedtime up by 15 minutes every few days. Switching immediately to a new bedtime personally didn’t work for me; it certainly took a while to adjust. Why did I needlessly make things difficult for myself, and even for my partner?

This applies to every aspect of a person’s day, not just sleep. This kind of planning and tracking will prevent naysayers from saying, “fitting X into a schedule ruins the activity altogether”. If it feels natural , it won’t feel forced.

Allow Time for “Pillow Talks” in Your Schedule

Many couples have “pillow talks” before bed, and they usually benefit one or both partners. My husband and I take some time for this almost every night. However, for a long time, I didn’t consider it as part of my evening routine. In turn, this left me with 30 minutes to an hour unaccounted for, which again led to me losing sleep.

Although “pillow talks” usually apply to couples living together, this time may look different for couples not cohabitating, or for people living alone. However, this doesn’t mean that people don’t dedicate time before bed talking to someone. If people are single or live without their partner, for example, they may use this time instead to speak with an accountability partner, a roommate, or their romantic partner over the phone or in-person. They may even use this time just to write up a schedule for the next day.

It may surprise you when you track your time, how often you engage in these deep conversations before bed! Even before living with my husband, I engaged in less romantic versions of this with family members and close friends.

Ultimately, if a person accounts for this time, it won’t cut into their precious sleep! Whatever a person’s dating or living situation is, fitting this time into a routine has major benefits; it just needs to be considered! I’m finally improving in this area, myself; I now include it in my wind down activities!

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, locking in a routine calls for some flexibility from time to time. Like Amy said in a recent video, we have to start small! For those of us who prefer spontaneity, we can make room for both. Of course, it takes time – and likely several revisions! – to get routines down. However, making routines and exploring other time management tools will work for everyone, no matter how Type B you feel. Hopefully these few tips may help keep that excitement in your lives!

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