Portable routines

As much as I love the idea of routines, I admit that I struggle to follow through with the routines that I know will help me. Here are some of the struggles from recent weeks:

  • When you are out of your routine surroundings, what are the prompts that will remind you of your habits?
  • If you need an hour for your morning routine and you only have fifteen minutes, what do you do?
  • If you need solitude for your morning routine and you get up second, what do you do?
  • If you need a chair and are away from home or you leave your notebook in your other briefcase or your favorite perfect pen is in the pocket of the jacket you left at work, what do you do?

I’m discovering that I need to cultivate portable routines. (I think of  a routine as a set of thoughts and behaviors performed consistently.)

I’m thinking that it may be wise to develop routines that don’t depend on a particular chair but depend on an event like getting out of bed. I’m thinking that as much as I like having an hour for prayer and reflection and writing and reading, developing a 15 minute version may feel less disorienting for days that demand travel or meetings or other necessary and valuable experiences. I’m thinking that as much as I have treasured the practice of praying with a pen in my hand, I need to develop a comfort with a similar practice of interaction with God that can happen without a pen, without my notebook, without my chair.

Jesus had a remarkable practice of going away to spend time with God, yet he traveled regularly, had no home, and most likely did not own a Moleskine. I want to learn to routinely pray like Jesus.


So, what are your portable routines for spiritual growth?

9 thoughts on “Portable routines

  1. Ruth Holleran

    Bench. Black energel Pentel. Oberon design leather notebook. You are singing my song. Insightful solution to disruption which, frankly, can make me feel restless for the entire day, because the foundation was not properly set or the brain fog not adequately aired. Small deliberate routines tied to universal actions. I like it.


    1. Jon Swanson

      well Ruth, I prefer my Parker pen and Moleskine square-ruled. But You describe the feeling very well: “Foundation was not properly set”. So it isn’t just me. Whew.


  2. Parke Brown (@Parke)

    Daily Scripture emails are some small element of a portable routine for me. The ever-present nature of the phone is turned from a frustration to reminder to stop and reflect for a moment at the least.

    I’m curious to hear about the portable routines of others. I probably could enhance my walk in this area as I will go through more transition than normal this year.


    1. Jon Swanson

      Though emailed scripture doesn’t work well for me, I know that there are many people who really really like it. And I’m glad. What’s interesting in your request for more comments is that you are planning for the disruption, rather than simply dreading it or ignoring. Well done.


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  4. benneb

    Thanks for the reminder of routines. That is something I am becoming more and more aware of as life-giving. Helpful thoughts on making them portable instead of rigid. I wish I would have understood the power of routines in my first six years of ministry. Thanks for sharing helpful reflections.


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