Bringing vacation home

One of the best things about vacation is that I get to structure my day the way I’d like to structure it at home—while free of the temptations and distractions and longstanding habits that, at home, get in the way of that ideal structure.

I’m recently back from a mini-vacation in Western Sonoma County. Ahhhh—a delightful mix of low-key busy-ness (I milked a goat! and bought cucumber-scented face cream!) and stillness (strolling the beach, sitting outside in the morning mist.)

Since I got back, I’ve been looking for ways to keep up with a morning routine that I know works for me: meditate for 15 or 20 minutes first thing, then step outside for a few minutes. Then have a light breakfast, then take a look at my intentions for the day.

When I follow this routine, it doesn’t guarantee a smooth day. But it generally makes for one that feels less fragmented.

More often, though, my daily routine goes: check email, check online forums, check Twitter, read paper, deal with more email, eat breakfast at lunchtime, deal with phone calls and (seemingly) urgent assignments, eventually squeeze in some meditating, go outside late afternoon (oh! there is a world out there!), work late into the evening.

I wouldn’t mind this pattern if it felt like a natural rhythm, but it feels more like an accidental or drifty one.

Here’s the key:

When I spend the first part of the day in front of the computer, my agenda gets set by the instruments of distraction.

To resist the computer’s siren song, I need something better than the grit-my-teeth-and-fight-it method. I need a substitute activity that’s simple and inherently rewarding.

I’ve tried combining steps 1 and 2 by meditating in a nearby park, but that brings up its own set of questions and distractions (is the noisy leaf-blower guy working today? should I put on sweats or street clothes? should I go to the dry cleaner, as long as I’m headed that way?)—until, overwhelmed, I turn to the default option and get lost online.

This past week, I’ve added a new element to the morning routine. First thing in the morning, I’ve been walking out to the back stairs of my apartment building, and sitting outside on the stairs while I meditate. It’s easier than getting myself to the park, and there are trees and birds out back, just like on vacation!

The rest of the day is going better.


  1. Way to go, Janet! For finding one tiny thing that incorporates routine in a way that’s simple and easy for you.

    I know that for me, setting up routines for myself is often based on external messages–you “should” meditate and do some gentle exercise in the morning, you “should” eat a clean, healthy breakfast, or whatever. Sometimes it’s tough to remember to ask myself what *I* would like to do; what would make *me* feel good. Because i’m far more likely to go for a walk and not resent the time spent if I’m the one who has decided I want to go.

    It’s also easy to over-complicate things. So I love your simple 2-in-1 step solution. Even if you end up doing it just for today, it made today better. :o)

  2. Janet Bailey says:

    @Michelle – Untangling the “shoulds” from the benefits I really do value is tricky, especially when they overlap! Keeping it simple is helping a lot.

  3. Nishant says:

    I have been reading about Yoga since a week now and how it helps in time management and production.

    I must say your this article encourages me more to transform my plans to reality and incorporate it in my daily routine. I thank you for this article and keep up the good work!

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