Filling days with happy routines


I recently changed jobs, and the switch means my 5-minute commute is now 30-40 minutes. That's a big jump, but it's kind of awesome. The only thing I didn't like about my 5-minute commute was that it eliminated my best opportunity for me-time with audiobooks. I've always been a voracious reader, but life happens and it's hard to find the time. For me, the commute is the perfect time to get through non-fiction books, particularly on business topics. 

When I was noodling on how to position a product, I listened to Positioning. When I was struggling with how to explain a complex but important concept, I got inspiration from Made to Stick. And one of Jim Collins' stories in Good to Great reaffirmed my choice to leave my last position. Some days I need something fiction to get lost in because my brain needs a break from absorbing information and generating ideas. Occasionally, I switch on my favorite playlists so I can give a concert in my car.

Having a longer commute creates some logistical challenges, but I try to take advantage of every moment of that time to prep for my day and unwind from it when it's over. The routine - provided I'm not rushed - makes me happy and less stressed. 

Life is too busy not to have routines that inject some amount joy into each day. I love getting my first cup of coffee in the morning. That first sip is the best, too. 

Sometime last winter, my colleagues at my previous job started sitting together regularly at lunch and I looked forward to that routine. It made hard days better and gave us all a break from the grind. This one was good for our whole team, especially since we were dealing with so much change.

It's amazing to see the impact of a simple routine when you're going through change.

One routine I practiced when I was younger, but has fallen away was something I learned from my fifth grade teacher. She once told me that she loved to wake up on Saturday mornings, have a cup of tea, a hot bath and read. I still think that sounds divine, but I haven't done it in years. I might have to revive it before it gets too cold. 

I like having happy routines that are also comforting and calming; they're a safe space in each day, week or month. 

Saturday night me-time rituals

When I was younger and still living at home, Saturday nights were a time I got to spend with my mom - just the two of us most of the time. We stayed up really late a lot of the time. When I moved out of the house, I lost those times with Mom, but I continued the tradition of unwinding on Saturday nights. I read, I watched TV, I just did whatever I wanted for as long as I wanted to do it.

I remember one particular Saturday night when I was living alone: I started reading Kiss the Girls by James Patterson. BIG mistake. That book is all about a guy who targets women who live alone. I can only assume that I hadn’t seen the movie before I read the book, which is my preference. Or maybe I had seen the movie and because it’s so watered down (it really is), I didn’t think it would scare the bejeezus out of me late on a Saturday night.

I laid in bed, fully awake and heart racing during every one of those scenes where you just know that the bogeyman is going to jump out at you, until 5:00am when I finally read the last word on the last page. I had to know that the bad guy was really gone and not in my side yard waiting for me to turn out my light.

Another Saturday night ritual was born when Walmart opened a 24-hour superstore in Tallahassee. I might have gotten into the habit of going grocery shopping at 1:00am. It’s actually a really nice place to be that time of night!

After Matt and I got married, I got away from my Saturday night at-home/retail rituals until Matt took a job at Blockbuster to make a little extra money. During that time, my new ritual tended to be sitting in front of the television for hours watching movies that we got to rent for free, thanks to his employment. Ten a week, thank you very much. Thankfully, that period of him working two jobs didn’t last long. It got to be pretty lonely. 

Brandon’s birth and my return to work led to yet another shift. The alternating sleep-in days. Matt was bound and determined to sleep-in on Saturdays. I think he needs to gird himself to survive the weekend and I can understand why. Keeping a child entertained gets a little harder the older he gets. I sort of wanted the Saturday sleep-in, but over time I’ve realized that I have my Saturday nights back! Matt goes to bed at a decent hour so he can get up early to take care of Brandon and I can stay up or go to bed at will.

Tonight, I realized that I have never really gotten over the fear of that bogeyman. I had to go down to the basement after Matt went to sleep and going through our house (alarm on) and seeing all the shadows and occasional light from the street lights filtering in through the windows made me feel so exposed and vulnerable. As they always do. 

Just writing that last paragraph made my stomach flip again about another ten times. I am such a wuss.

But I wouldn’t change my Saturday night rituals for anything. When else am I supposed to read/blog/explore (the Internet)? :)

When do you get regular alone time? How do you spend it?