With respect to hours, the second half of my full time working years were significantly more routine than the first half. And one aspect of a predictable 9-5 working life I came to appreciate was how easy it was to integrate important disciplines into a schedule like that.
For example, though I'd always been committed to staying fit, establishing an exercise regimen with the erratic hours in my first 20 years working full time proved very challenging for me. The 9-5 routine was much easier to use to my advantage. Scheduled to begin work at 9:00? OK, take a few minutes to journal before starting. Driving home from work at 5:00? OK, exercise before getting ready for dinner. I quickly discovered this technique of anchoring one thing to another was highly effective in making disciplines stick. Recognizing how these disciplines had become essential to my mental health, as I prepared to transition out of full time work in early 2010, I planned ways to keep them all humming after my 9-5 life ended.
One discipline I've struggled to fully re-integrate is my meditation practice. It's possible this is so because unlike journalling (where there is an end product) or exercising (where fitness can be measured) or practicing guitar (where new songs are added to an existing repertoire), the benefits of meditation are more difficult to quantify. So even though I know it helps me, being unable to identify a tangible benefit may have put it back further in my mental queue. In addition, the 9-5 anchoring technique I used for this discipline was pulling into a parking space wherever I worked and then meditating in the car. Though I'm committed to finding a new anchoring technique to help me fully re-integrate my meditation practice, spending more time in the car is not in the cards.