Tag Archives: routines

Routine or innovation?


Chris Lee (left) receives voucher for 10 free swims from North Herts Council Director John Robinson

Chris Lee (left) receives voucher for 10 free swims from North Herts Council Director John Robinson

At the end of September I won a North Hertfordshire District Council competition organised to celebrate ‘Waste Less, Live More’ Week (22 – 28 September – put it in your diary for 2015).

To cut a long story short, I can now call my pallet table ‘prize-winning’ and I’ll be swimming in our local leisure centre for the next ten Fridays for free!

I’m more of a runner than a swimmer, but this week I learnt from a great little British Heart Foundation booklet on physical exercise for the over 50s* that 30 minutes ‘moderate intensity’ swimming burns the same number of calories as 16 minutes running’.

So ten free swims is a valuable prize.

This Friday was my first free swim. I hadn’t been to the pool for a couple of years (it’s not cheap) but happy memories soon came flooding back. I go early and it was the usual 6.30am crowd – older swimmers standing in the shallow end chatting and the ‘speedos’ ploughing up and down the lanes, power drinks lined up in bottles poolside – very intimidating.

I am neither a chatterer nor a speedo – I did my 20 lengths in slightly fewer minutes – but it gave me the time to reflect on the joy of some routines, such as chugging up and down a swimming pool. In fact I got so carried away I lost count of how many lengths I’d swum so I might, in fact, have done 18 or 22 lengths.

How different from the world of social entrepreneurship – in which I’ve been immersed over the last 12 months – where we’re urged to constantly innovate and, more recently, be disruptive (whatever that means). It’s as if doing things differently and being creative in always a good thing. My wife works in the NHS and, like in education, she works in a world of constant change, re-organisation, and energy-sapping disruption. She suffers from people trying to ‘innovate’!

Yes – there’s a need to find new solutions to enduring problems, and urgently, but maybe we should also value the idea of ‘sticking to the knitting’ (as a now notorious ex-government minster suggested recently), doing what we do well, following tried and tested, reliable routines and – like my plodding up and down the swimming pool – allowing ourselves the time to slow down and think.

*Be active for life http://www.bhf.org.uk/publications/view-publication.aspx?ps=1001242 download for free from the British Heart Foundation website.

Waste less, live more is at www.wastelesslivemore.com

Reflecting and sharing will be the theme of an early November blog post