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Routine Checkup


Some people live for the break from routine that summer offers. I live for the return of routine in the fall.

If it weren’t for routine, I’m not sure I’d ever exercise. Were I not hardwired to show up at my group blast class on Monday morning at 9:15, I might head to the mall or knock over a liquor store, depending on how my weekend unfolded.

Routine keeps me eating well. Every morning for breakfast, I have plain yogurt, sliced almonds and cacao nibs, along with a decaf skim milk latte. When I was away on vacation, I explored the buffet where each morning they made fresh Buñuelos: delicious balls of dough fried in lard. I ate heaping plates filled with these little balls of goodness because there was no routine to govern me. Without routine I very well might spend my days parked in front of the supermarket eating chocolate chip cookie dough out of the tube.

Routine allows us to make smart choices and then go on autopilot. This is good when it comes to things like exercise and healthy eating and wiping down the kitchen counters.

In the beautiful words of Annie Dillard, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” So a few times a year, I do a routine checkup to make sure my routines reflect how I want to live. I’ve fallen out of the routine of reading before bed, and since there are a zillion books on my to read list, I need to make sure I fit in some reading time each day. I need to meditate to whip this monkey mind of mine into shape and am working on building that into my writing practice.

I tend to get lazy when it comes to my clothes since there is no social pressure to wear anything other than yoga pants. I’ve decided that as soon as the mercury drops to acceptable levels, I need to adopt a uniform of jeans, a t-shirt, a jacket and one smart accessory. I won’t do it unless it’s part of my routine.

I tend to fall into mood dips and when I do, I tend to go to ground so building social engagements into my calendar is critical. I am such an introvert that if I don’t schedule Talk to people to whom I’m not related into my calendar, I might not do it for days.

Do you rely on routine to keep you on the straight and narrow? What routines have proven to be most helpful to you?

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With an MBA in Finance, JEN LAWRENCE worked in investment banking; was Executive Director of a Children’s Museum and is a pioneer mommy blogger. Jen writes and speaks about women in business, critical thinking, strategic planning and is the author of Engage the Fox: A Business Fable About Thinking Critically and Motivating Your Team. When your world’s been blown apart, Jen Lawrence can help you pull yourself together, and pinpoint those next steps that will help you find your new normal. She can also be found at

7 thoughts on “Routine Checkup”

  1. Jen, Once again, I see so many similarities between us. Whether it’s dressing in yoga pants–I used to be the “You’re so together, Jan” woman–or scheduling time to talk to people who’re not related to my calendar. I’m an only child of only children, so I’ve always been content being alone, but it’s nice and mentally healthy to have outside input. xoxo, Brenda

  2. I absolutely thrive with a routine, and feel totally discombobulated when things are awry. I live by my calendar! However, after a string of focused, organized days, I crave getting away for some unstructured quiet. Like you, I am an introvert, and have to guard against isolating myself. Cheers to fall, and the routines that it brings!

  3. I love this! I was writing in my journal yesterday that the simplicity (and lack of available options, really) of my summers is so restful and therapeutic for me. If I miss 8 am yoga there is no other class, so I don’t have to think about it, I just go. The complexity of my days the other 9 months of the year, combined with too many available choices – from dog walk venues, to workouts, to manicures, to grocery stores – over stimulates a part of my brain and I get agitated. I’m going to try to simplify this Fall – make a routine and stick to it, so I’m not distracted by all the possibilities – and see if this quiets my mind. Oh, and the part about scheduling time to talk to people who are not related to me… right on!

  4. Oh Jen, I think you’ve been spending time in my head! I can relate to this on so many levels and I love your honesty. Thanks as always for your wonderful writing! Esther xx

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