• Caroline Scruggs

How To Shake Up Your After-Work Routine

Updated: Jul 21, 2020

Ah, the ol’ 5PM Slump.

Ok, so I totally made this phrase up. But I bet you know exactly what I’m talking about.

You come home after a long workday feeling burned out and just plain spent. It’s around 5 (or whenever you’re done with your daily tasks) and it hits you… you are so tired, you can’t even fathom moving your body another inch. You collapse in front of the screen, and wistfully lose yourself in a Netflix binge Youtube rabbithole, until hours later you look up and it’s dark outside. You feel a pang. Damn, how did the day go by so quickly?!

Or worse, you don’t feel anything, because you’ve just gotten so used to this old routine. You go to bed later than you mean to, and then you wake up tired to go to work and do it all over again. It’s the wicked cycle that we’ve all fallen into before.

Well, my friend, to that old way of life I say EFF THAT! I know you don’t enjoy when your days start blending into each other and disappearing before your eyes like pages flying off a cartoon calendar, right? I sure don’t.

Here are 5 steps to shaking up your evenings and getting out of that rut for good. They’ll give you the boost of energy you need when the 5pm slump hits, and inspire you to fill everyday with something fun and worthwhile!

Are you ready to get out of this rut and have some fun?

1. Take Action

What’s the antidote to living the same day over and over again? Actually DOING things, rather than just thinking about them. It’s physically moving around, getting out of your head and getting into your body. It’s interacting with the world around you, rather than the simulated world of TV and internet.

But it seems impossible some days to even move a finger after 5PM, let alone to get off the couch and go out and DO something, doesn’t it?

Sometimes it just takes baby steps to begin waking your body back up… literally. Force yourself to take a 5 or 10 or 15 minute walk, whatever you feel like will just push your limits a little. Breathe deeply while you’re walking. See if you don’t have a bit more energy at the end, and then it’s time to take the next step to shake this day up!

Time to get moving, babe!

2. Plan Ahead… But Not Too Much

Sunday is such a nice day for resetting. When I remember to actually clean up around my house a little, do some laundry that’s been piled up all week, and sit down to plan my week ahead, it affects my mood the whole week.

Really, all it takes is half an hour to sit down, right out the days of the week on your computer or in a journal, and fill in a little idea you have for an interesting couple of hours after work.

Now, whatever you choose doesn’t have to be a grandiose adventure at all… maybe you write next to Tuesday: cook that insane dish at my favorite Indian restaurant to the best of my abilities.

Then maybe you put a few enhancements on this mini-adventure: a. invite someone over to be your taste tester with you b. Put some of your pillows on the floor to eat on and some Christmas lights around the living room, because… ambience? Why not?!

Or, you might just plan something where you’re not sure where you’ll end up. (Plans that aren’t fully planned yet make for some of the funnest, most memorable adventures). Maybe you write next to Thursday: Photo Scavenger Hunt - drive/bike/walk around town and find + take photos of 5 star-shaped things. Just the sense of wondering around with a purpose, no matter how silly, will reignite your adventurous spirit!

Make your own running list of these ideas that you for sure want to do at some point. Then every week you’ll have a bunch of options to choose from that really excite you.

Don’t forget to check the weather and schedule ideas according to what would shake things up. (Maybe plan to make a crazy art project at home on the day it’s snowing. But at the same time, maybe it would be FUN to go out to the ice cream parlor in 35 degree weather!)

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3. Incorporate Others

I’m pretty much exactly half introverted and half extraverted. So when I’m on stage performing and on my A game, I am totally soaking up energy from others and it’s great. But when I feel burned out or depressed or exhausted after the high of these big crazy events, I want to crawl under my covers and be completely alone, with only the snuggly company of my puppy.

But then every so often I find myself in this burned-out state in the company of interesting people who I know well or who I’m just getting to know. Either way, it brings me out of myself and back into the light, beautiful world.

It’s magic how being with good people can affect and heal you, when you let it happen.

Think of someone who makes you feel good or inspired or loved. Maybe you’ve been meaning to talk to them forever but never seem to have the time for, or maybe it’s that cool chick that hangs at the same coffee shop as you who you exchange smiles with daily. Invite them on one of your mini-adventures. Try to hang out with at least one person out of your ordinary life per week.

4. Embrace the Unfamiliar

Do something, go somewhere, or hang with someone completely new at least once a week. This is such an easy thing to do if you make your mind up to stick to it, and it will begin to expand your mind and your life right away.

You could even get a head start before 5.

Resolve to smile and say hello to everyone you can make eye contact with on your commute to and from work.

Take a new route to work.

Try a new place to eat lunch.

Find a podcast you would never normally listen to, and listen to an episode that sounds interesting.

Boom! Then you’ve done a little warm-up during the day that will make it easier for you to keep up the energy when 5pm hits!

Now carry on to your wild, not-too-planned evening plans…

5. Focus on Delighting Your Senses

You have the power to transform most of the mundane things in your life into pleasurable experiences.

'Hold up, Caroline. If there was a way to make my exhausting, repetitive days more pleasurable, don’t you think I would’ve found it by now?'

Here's the thing. We Americans are actually terrible at this, because we tend to either deprive ourselves of delight, or over-indulge in unhealthy delights. Yikes.

When we slow down enough to let ourselves focus on how we are really experiencing something outside of us… that is, what it sounds like, or tastes or smells like, this is bringing us out of our monkey mind (that’s constantly thinking about the past and the future) and into the present moment. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book of meditation. You may know it as mindfulness.

But we are going to take this a step further and find joy, however small, in experiencing these things.

So for example, when you’re eating that new dish for lunch (because you’re trying new things, of course), take your time in this experience. Close your eyes, inhale deeply and really smell the food before you even begin eating. Note all the layers of that food, how good it smells, the feelings the scent brings you. Let yourself feel a little joy at this perception. When you eat your first bite, use the same process. Slow down and savor the experience. Smile and let yourself feel gratitude for this moment you are experiencing in a totally new way.

It might seem totally silly and weird at first if you’ve never practiced this kind of sensory mindfulness. I get that. But if you make an effort to try it here and there, experiencing a song playing on shuffle on your phone, or with a mural you see on a building, or even the partner you come home to... these things that you otherwise would’ve just tuned out in lieu of worrying about a meeting or a deadline might just become the things that make your day amazing.

Take delight in the littlest of things. Relish your life as it is. And nothing can stop you from being happier and more fulfilled.

So what are you waiting for?! You can start planning your epic evenings for this week right now! To get some extra guidance and motivation, sign up for my FREE email challenge, 5 Days to Kicking Your Creative Slump. I’d love to know what you do to shake up your schedule this week… put it in the comments below!

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