Is your cat too thin?

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The last time my daughter was in town she commented on how much weight our cat had lost. My wife and I didn’t see it. Maybe he was a little thinner but not that much.

But we were wrong. Our vet confirmed that the cat had lost too much weight. (Change of food and other measures and he’s back to normal now.)

Why was our daughter able to see that the cat had was too thin and we couldn’t? We couldn’t see his gradual loss of weight because we saw him every day and our daughter didn’t.

We were too close and couldn’t see what was right in front of us.

I want to make the case for periodically taking a step back from your routines and changing up what you do. When you interview a new client, for example, instead of following the same checklist in the same order, mix it up. Ask the questions in a different order or ask different questions.

You may be surprised at what you find.

The same goes for anything you do habitually. Your exercise routine, the way you do research, the way you arrange your desk or the desktop on your computer.

When you always do the same things, and you always do them the same way, you can get stale and miss things.

Change your routines. Change the people you hang out with. Change the way you drive to work.

Change your perspective and you may see things you no longer see (or have never seen).

Your cat’s health may depend on it.

Change your marketing habits

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Sometimes, you’ve got to break the chain

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Routines are a good thing. You always know what you’re going to do and by doing it regularly, you get good at it.

Exercise, taking your vitamins, drinking water–check. Reviewing your todo list and calendar in the evening to prepare for the following day–check. Opening a file, preparing a pleading, posting to your blog–all made easier because your routine helps you do them without a lot of extra thought or effort.

I have an app I use to record my daily walks. I check off the days I’ve done them (and record my steps in another app), because I don’t want to break the chain. (Search: “Seinfeld, don’t break the chain” if you’re not familiar with the concept.)

Last week it was hotter than Hades. Even early in the morning. I missed a day’s walk. Then I missed another.

I broke the friggin chain! (Don’t worry, I started a new one. All is well.)

I’m walking earlier now. BC (before coffee) if you can believe it. I see a different crowd of walkers, runners, and dogs, the light is different, it’s quieter, and I get my walk done early. I seem to have more day.

It’s too soon to tell for certain but walking earlier may be a game changer for me. I probably wouldn’t have done it if the weather hadn’t forced me to.

Anyway, I got to thinking that sometimes, we should intentionally change our routines. Just for the hell of it. A new routine provides fresh stimuli for our brain. It can lead to ideas and improvements. It keeps things fresh.

I’ve never been a morning person. Never started my day without coffee. If I can do this, who knows what I can accomplish.

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Why a boring day is probably a productive day

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Routines help eliminate needless decision-making. You do something a certain way because you’ve already worked out that it’s the best way to do it. You don’t have to think, you just do.

Routines are boring, and that’s the point. They help you get more done in less time and with fewer mistakes.

A routine is a mental checklist, although you might want to actually write it down until, well, it becomes routine. Checklists make sure you don’t forget anything and that you do things in the right order.

So you have a routine for getting your day started and a routine for starting work. You have a routine for writing a blog post or article, a routine for signing up new clients, and a routine for closing a file when the case is done. You have routines in the kitchen, routines for running errands, and routines in the bedroom, although that’s one area where you should probably go off script.

Think about how you can create more checklists and routines in your life.

Now, just because you have a routine doesn’t mean you never think about what you’re doing. Periodically, you should step back and examine your routines and look for ways to improve them. Ask yourself, What can I do better or faster? Which steps can I eliminate? Where might I add more steps to improve the overall process?

As you create new routines and improve existing ones, you’ll find yourself getting more done in less time and with less mental energy. You can use that time and energy to work on new ideas and creative projects.

Have a boring day.

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