Reestablishing Routines After a Break

Some people do their best work when they establish daily routines. That is, they set aside regular time slots specifically to do the work. I’m such a person. I wake up early every day, meditate, make a cup of coffee, and then devote a couple of hours to writing before my kids wake up. This routine has made it possible for me to work on two books and maintain this blog. If I’m unable to do my morning routine, I feel something’s missing — much as I feel something’s missing if I go to bed without brushing my teeth.

For the past few years, I’ve taken time between Christmas and New Years to be with my family in a more focused way. During this time I avoid doing work that requires me to sit in front of a computer. (I also avoid social media.) Instead, my focus is on the physical world: we ski, go to the beach, travel, talk with each other. It’s wonderful. I return from these internet sabbaticals refreshed and reenergized. But, I also find it challenging to get back into my routines. It’s hard to get up early when you’ve been sleeping in for over a week! It’s especially hard if you don’t have a specific project or a deadline needing your attention.

One trick that’s helped me is to go through the motions. When I’m ready to restart the routine, I get up at my regular time and start the process without thinking about it. No reasons, goals, or deadlines needed — I get out of bed, meditate, make coffee, write. What do I write? It doesn’t matter — the important thing is to reestablish the right context. For me, that context is underpinned by the certainty and rhythm of the daily routine.