I’m a great believer in routines.
I’m a believer in them because I think that innovation is predicated upon standardisation. In other words, routines afford us the spare capacity to think about things other than (repetitive) tasks at hand.
Routines provide spare capacity by removing, or narrowing, choice.
Take my morning routine, for example. Granted, having children means that no two are identical, but every day I’m at work in the office at JISC infoNet Towers, I do the following:
- Have a cold shower
- Eat eggs (either scrambled on toast or an omelette)
- Listen to the same ‘Train’ and ‘Walking’ playlists via Spotify (albeit on random)
- Read Baltasar Gracian’s The Art of Worldly Wisdom on the train
Of course, it’s not necessary to have to undergo a commute to have routines. They’re just things you do at the same time and/or place.
So far, so obvious.
Routines gain power by becoming rituals. For example, there’s something about the first cup of coffee in the morning. It has a ritualistic element; it symbolises waking and the liminal space between home and work.
Whilst routines are easy to create and maintain on an individual level, rituals are slightly trickier. This, I believe, is because rituals involve gathering. It may be people who are gathered together, it may be thoughts. Rituals pull together and coalesce disparate elements.
Organisations and educational institutions are extremely well-placed to turn individual productive routines into collective rituals. One of the best places to start is often around food. At JISC infoNet we have a weekly Cake Club: the cake serves as a convenient hypocrisy for a kind of gathering we otherwise would not necessarily experience.
What kind of routines could you or your organisation turn into rituals?
Image CC BY visualpanic