The Beauty of Routine at Home and My Medical Practice

November 1, 2011

As a physician, having a routine is important to maintaining sanity, marriage, and work-life balance.

I am tired. Between conferences and vacation, I am exhausted. No more working lunches, dinners at restaurants, motel rooms, or planes, trains, or automobiles for me! I need a break. I need to get back to my routine.

During the month of October, my family and/or I took four separate trips for business or pleasure. Returning home from my most recent conference on Saturday evening, I was surprised to feel a tidal wave of exhaustion hit me by 8 p.m. After all, I had just been sitting for the past 48 hours, not doing anything too demanding. I think the constant travel, stress, and change in environment all caught up with me, finally, as I returned home.

Many a snowy January workday will find me looking longingly out my window, hoping for a chance to escape either to Florida or at least to my backyard for a snowball fight. Sighing, I’ll turn back to the electronic in-basket overflowing with requests and urgent messages. I like the escapes from routine: an unexpected snow day, a conference or trip, something new or different.
However, routine is important to maintaining my sanity and my marriage as well as to restoring work-life balance. Having a “regular” week this week means that my husband can get together with his friend mid-week to play video games. It also means that I can attend my friend’s birthday party on Saturday night. I can play a board game with my son before bed tonight and plan to tuck all my kids into bed every night. This normalcy, this return to routine, is soothing to my soul, which is tired of traveling and being too busy.

Embracing my normal routine this week reminds me that routine, constancy, and the predictable up-and-down flow to our days aids our work-life balance. We don’t have to plan out each moment; those moments happen on our normal schedule (although some of the moments are chaotic). The routine of our days and our week provides a calm backdrop to the rest of our life. This week, I’m savoring the beauty of my normal, typical, boring routine.

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