Routines, rituals, and habits

December 2, 2023

I recently read a post by Mark Boulton about the value of routine. Routine, rituals, and habits are the anchor that helps us to keep going when life gets difficult, hard, or confusing. They are the anchor that can help you to achieve the things you most value in life but take discipline and perseverance to obtain.

The post got me thinking about the routines/rituals/habits I have in my life that help keep me anchored. Most of them are personal but also ones that my team practices that help us stay the course.

Quiet times (daily)

A quiet time is a time I set aside each day to draw near to my Lord in fellowship with him. The staples of this time include reading or studying the Bible and prayer. Some days it includes other spiritual disciplines such as journaling or singing hymns and other spiritual songs.

I have been practicing this routine since my days in college. I have gone through seasons where I have not been as consistent in this practice. I have even had times when I was very inconsistent. But for the most part, this has been an anchoring routine in my life.

It is not something I do to earn favor from God. But it is something I want to do and see the value of the consistent practice of this in my life.

Thanksgiving List (weekly)

One of the other routines that I have engaged in for a significant part of my life is taking time each week to count my blessings and write them down in my journal. After I write down the list, I take time to pray through the list and thank God for each item.

I believe I originally started the practice without writing things down in my journal when I was in college. I started writing things down when I was involved in campus ministry at Kansas State. I got out of this habit for a while but picked it back up again when I made a career change in 2010.

This habit has helped me keep the right perspective through the ups and downs of life. It helps me to remember that God is the source of everything in my life and helps me live in humility. I restarted the habit in 2010 after I saw a lot of grumbling and complaining enter into my attitude. This has become a life-giving habit that I practice on Saturdays.

Attending church (weekly)

This is also a staple of my spiritual life. Being involved in a community of faith has been a practice of mine since I became a Christian in college. It is something that I need. I need to be reminded that life is not about me but first and foremost about God.

I need a community to help me in my spiritual journey and I need a place where I can love and serve others on their spiritual journey. This routine is the anchor of my week and I always feel a bit off starting a week when I have not attended church for some reason or other.

I really missed physically gathering together at church during COVID-19. We could not risk catching the virus and exposing my mother-in-law, who is in poor health. We would watch the services from home but it was not the same. It was such a great thing to start regularly attending a church in our neighborhood about a year and a half ago.

I am reminded of a post that I read this week from a pastor’s wife. She captures a lot of the things that I think and feel about why I need church and why it is one of the most important anchors of my life.

Daily Log (daily)

I started this routine in 2012. I think the idea came from Austin Kleon and his book, Steal Like an Artist. I have read the book but I believe it was Mike Rohde who reminded me of the idea. I know Austin’s idea was more of a visual log but mine has mainly been a bulleted list that I put together in Evernote.

I started keeping a daily log using the app, Oh Life. I was working at Bonnier Corporation at the time. Most of my daily tasks were sprint tasks. I would come to the end of the week and be hard-pressed to remember what I had done for the week. Keeping a daily log helped me to keep track. When I first started this practice, I was only keeping track of my work activities. But it soon expanded to logging most of what I did in a day. I have found these logs helpful when I put together my weekly thanksgiving list, when I am thinking through what to write in a weeknote, and when I am putting together a brag document of accomplishments to help me prepare for our twice-a-year reviews at LGND.

I am not always consistent with this routine. If a week is busy or sometimes really slow, I have a more challenging time keeping up with this. I struggled with it this past week because life was full and I didn’t make time to make a record of my days. It takes a lot of discipline to keep at it. I have gone some long stretches (months) where I did not keep a log but it is something I keep coming back to because I see the value of keeping it.

Weeknotes (weekly)

I started the routine of writing a weeknote each week to reflections, on things I had learned, or other things about my week, both professional and personal. Several people I followed including Dave Rupert and Mark Boulton were using this format to share about their week. I may have gone beyond the intention of weeknotes to just share about your work week. But who cares? This is my blog and I can determine what my weeknotes include or don’t include.

There are no set styles for weeknotes. Some weeks, I just write a bulleted list of things I did, learned, or found interesting that week. Other times I write several paragraphs about two to four things from the week. I also list the articles I read (that are archived in Pocket), the shows or movies that I watched, the books that I read that week, and share about video games I played.

My weeknotes are primarily about my work week but also include personal stories. I share about what I worked on, things I learned, or new development techniques I tried. I also share links to articles I read and found interesting, books I am reading, and other activities from the week.

It has helped me become more comfortable writing and communicating. It has also helped me to revisit things I learned or solutions that I found that I need to reference again in the future. It gets me writing about things that I may not otherwise document. Several of the “stories” or moments that I have shared in my weeknotes have become separate posts of their own.

I started the practice in 2018 after attending a company retreat. I don’t always write one each week and I have never written 52 weeknotes in a year. But the number has increased every year and there have been several weeknotes I wrote this year about a week or two later just because I wanted to be able to document what I did that week. I am currently on pace to write 45 weeknotes this year if I continue to be consistent this month.

Blessing (daily)

Starting in November of 2009, I started saying a blessing over each of the kids each night before they went to bed. The blessing comes from Numbers 6:22–26. I do a little bit of a variation of the NIV translation.

It was something that was and is very meaningful to our kids. There were many times I would call home if I was on the road so that I could bless my kids. I remember attending a web conference in Tallahassee and stepping outside a bar where we had a pre-conference meetup to call and bless our kids.

We don’t do this routine as often as we once did with only one kid at home and she is gone many nights to ballet class or work. We recently did it every night over Thanksgiving break while all my kids were at home.

Take my blood pressure (twice daily)

One routine that I have struggled to establish over the past few months is monitoring my blood pressure twice a day. I had to visit the ER in an ambulance back in September with hypertension. I met with a primary care doctor a couple of weeks later and he wanted me to monitor it twice a day. It took me a couple of weeks to get into the routine and I missed a lot of days here and there.

I just visited my primary care doctor for a follow-up appointment this past week and he would like me to keep monitoring it. We decided to try to get off of medication to help keep my blood pressure low. He wants me to make sure that I can keep my blood pressure down without the medication.

All Hands Meeting (weekly) (work)

The agency I work for, LGND, has had a weekly All Hands meeting since before I joined the team. It is an opportunity for our team to check in once a week. Our leadership will often share about happenings in the company, cast vision, or revisit our team values. They also share a report each quarter of how the company is doing financially. We also share shout-outs to teammates and share project work so we can celebrate the work that we may not personally be involved in.

This year, we split our All Hands meetings into two separate meetings. We meet on Monday to have our two divisions–creative and apps (LGND X)–share about what projects are going on that week. Then on Wednesday, we hear from leadership and share company projects. It is a chance for us to stay connected as a team which has become more of a challenge now that we have two different focuses that cross-pollinate from time to time.

These meetings are very important to the life of a remote team. Our team is distributed from coast to coast.

Standups (daily) (work)

Last year, we started doing daily standups so that each person could talk about what they were working on for the day. It is also a time to ask questions or to have questions asked of you if you are the person sharing about your work. We used to do this only once a week at the beginning of the week but decided we needed the daily check-in. It also has value as a connection point in building relationships with the team.

Campfire (weekly) (work)

LGND Campfires are casual, optional, team-building times where we may hear from a guest, discuss a podcast or book, play a game and build relationships, or hear from a teammate share about something of work or personal interest. One of our teammates taught us to juggle on a recent Campfire. Another teammate taught us about making pizza (I missed this one, unfortunately). I did presentations twice this year, one about modern CSS and another bringing an idea for an isometric animation to life, which started as part of a weeknote.

We meet for Campfires on Friday afternoons (if you are on the East Coast like I am). I make it a priority to attend each week, especially the ones we play games together. I am not always that good at the games we play and I can be tempted to skip out and just focus on my work tasks. But I value building relationships with my teammates and there is a dynamic of playing a game together that you won’t find in just working together on project work. There is extreme value in laughing together and having shared experiences that have nothing to do with what we do the rest of the week.

This post is part of my attempt to write something every day for a month. I was inspired by Michelle Barker, who recently participated in National Blog Posting Month.

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