When my father was alive, and as he got older, it seemed he relied more and more on routine in his life. I used to think he went overboard with his routines. Everything was scheduled in his life. It felt, to me, stifling and non-creative.

Perhaps he did go overboard. Who’s to say? What is too much routine, and what is not enough?

Interestingly, though, I have found myself using routine to sustain my own creative process. I’ve talked recently about establishing a habit of writing early in the morning. Robert Olen Butler was the first person in my life to bring up this practice, in a workshop I took with him and in his amazing book (and one of my favorite writing books) From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction.

A few years after Robert Olen Butler’s workshop, yoga became a bigger part of my life. (I eventually trained to become a yoga instructor.) One thing that continues to amaze me about yoga is the power that a consistent personal practice (of anything) can bring to my life. As I dredged up the discipline to do a daily yoga practice (even if it was a very short practice on some days), I found that the benefits spilled over into all parts of my life. I got more done, yet in a peaceful and calm fashion rather than a frenetic, fried fashion).

I try to hold my practices lightly. I don’t beat myself up if I miss a day of writing, but I get right back to it. And I notice its absence. That is significant to me. Same with yoga, or any of the other personal practices I incorporate into my life.

What are the routines or personal practices you incorporate in your life so you accomplish what’s important to you?