Stay focused and accountable to goals during inevitable disruptions

Don’t Fall Off The Horse! How to Keep Vacations and Other Disruptions From Killing Your Routines

Have you ever come back from vacation feeling like you need a vacation more than ever? Join the club!

While the busy-ness of a workday may feel overwhelming at times, it does impose time constraints and deadlines that so many of us need or use to support our routines.

And then you take a vacation,  enjoy holidays, or have an illness or emergency, and routines get disrupted. You fall off the horse that you worked so hard to get and stay on…Yes, even by really fun and joyful things–kids are home from school, clinics and offices close or your clients are on vacation, you travel, you have time to indulge in your hobbies, or friends or family visit.

Some hard-won routines may be hard to start up again after the excitement and novelty or relaxing ease of your time away from the usual.

Three Powerfully Simple Strategies to Sustain Your Routine During or After Disruptions

These three strategies serve as scaffolding around your key routines during vacations, holidays and other disruptions:

1. Prepare to pick up right where you left off. 

Leave critical spaces clean and organized (office, desk, bedroom, kitchen, closet, or other key space) that support your ability to focus and get back into routines easily. If you don’t have much time, pick the one that you’ll appreciate most when you return.

See that your office procedures are covered, review your upcoming schedule, and leave visual cues (Post-it notes, paperwork that needs to be dealt with, etc.) for things you may forget about during your break.

If you’ll be traveling, do the laundry and make the beds before leaving. There’s nothing nicer than falling into clean linens when you get back to your own bed!

Stock the freezer with a few easy to reheat dinner items, your fridge with a few things that won’t spoil during the week, and your pantry with healthy non-perishable snacks so you won’t have to worry about groceries for a few days.

2. Identify your one linchpin routine and either continue it during your break, or set up conditions to get right back into it when you return. 

Your linchpin routine is the one that aligns your day, and may the one you work hardest to maintain. For me, it is my “right after dinner routine”—I wash my face, place the NY Times crossword puzzle on my nightstand, make sure four earplugs are under my pillow, and set out my outfit for the next day. When I stick to my routine, I get to bed on time and have a smooth glide path into my next workday. Mundane, yes. Powerful…double yes!! What is your linchpin routine?

3. Decouple the routine from a specific time. 

This one is powerful for adhering to routines, in general, not just during holidays and unexpected disruptions. Requiring set times for certain kinds of routines, such as running or setting out clothes for the next day (as opposed to getting up or going to bed at set times) can set you up for two routes to failure: (1) not doing the routine on time, and [then] (2) not doing it at all.

I have to admit that I do not love exercising. When I used to set a goal of exercising at a set time each day, and then didn’t do it, I felt like a failure; which coupled exercise with failure in my mind.

Then, when I separated the routine—exercise for 45 minutes daily, no matter what—from doing it at a set time, I succeeded. For you, this may be doing marketing or writing, or something else.

These are just a few of the strategies that can make it easier to maintain or get back into routines.

Bonus Tip—

Practice self-forgiveness and healthy letting go when you fail to live up to your standards and expectations.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying that sticking to and supporting routines doesn’t matter during these times. It’s just that we’re all human and stuff happens. So, when you are and it does, forgive yourself and ask yourself what it will take to get back on track.

Beating yourself up and piling on shame only supports hopelessness and drifting goals, and makes it harder to get back in the grove.

I’d love to hear about your tricks and strategies for maintaining your routines!

Comments are closed.