C.S. Lewis’s Ideal Day and (y)ours?

Published Categorized as english, Home making, Our journey, Silence, Uncategorized

These unusual weeks of working from home make you think: How did other people—before us—do it? I was thinking about C.S.Lewis as his book Surprised by Joy was laying around in our living room, and someone mentioned his description of his Ideal Day during a conversation at the table.

In Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis tells us the story of how he passed from Atheism to Christianity. (Read the whole book and order it here, if you like)

I grabbed the little booklet, read it again and wanted to share this part here:

C.S. Lewis writes:

“I settled into a routine which has ever since served in my mind as an archetype, so that what I still mean when I speak of a “normal” day (and lament that normal days are so rare) is a day of the Bookham pattern. For if I could please myself I would always live as I lived there. I would choose always to breakfast at exactly eight and to be at my desk by nine, there to read or write till one. If a cup of good tea or coffee could be brought me about eleven, so much the better. A step or so out of doors for a pint of beer would not do quite so well; for a man does not want to drink alone and if you meet a friend in the taproom the break is likely to be extended beyond its ten minutes. At one precisely lunch should be on the table…

I am the sort of person who likes to visualize it. His sheet would look like this;

8.00 breakfast

9.00–13.00 Read, write, study

11.00 A cup of tea. (Please bring it, and don’t disturb me)

13.00 Lunch, (preferably served.)

14.00 Hit the road for a walk -alone-

17.00–19.00  A man (and woman;-) should be at work again.

23.00 There is no reason why you should ever be in bed later than eleven.


By two at the latest I would be on the road. Not, except at rare intervals, with a friend. Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them. Our own noise blots out the sounds and silences of the outdoor world; and talking leads almost inevitably to smoking, and then farewell to nature as far as one of our senses is concerned. The only friend to walk with is one … who so exactly shares your taste for each mood of the countryside that a glance, a halt, or at most a nudge, is enough to assure us that the pleasure is shared.

I would sign up for a study like this! Very inviting. And a bit of order does n’t do any harm. Does it?

 And these words are what he wrote at this desk:

Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably. Of course not all books are suitable for mealtime reading. It would be a kind of blasphemy to read poetry at table. What one wants is a gossipy, formless book which can be opened anywhere. 

C.S. Lewis bedroom. Funny that I have the same taste. Jelle and I have a white duvet and a red carpet on the floor. And a tiny table nex to our bed. I just notice that now. Cosy eh?

At five a man should be at work again, and at it till seven. Then, at the evening meal and after, comes the time for talk, or, failing that, for lighter reading; and unless you are making a night of it with your cronies (and at Bookham I had none) there is no reason why you should ever be in bed later than eleven.

So, Lewis has his daily walks, think time, writing time, and meals served in his Ideal Day (Don’t we all?)—no shopping, cleaning, house chores, teaching children, fixing leaking taps, or diaper changing.) 

C.S. Lewis Ideal Day in perspective

I just found it very fascinating to read about this. When I googled: Lewis, Ideal Day. I stumbled upon such an interesting blog post that I nearly gave up writing this one because I found it so very well done. What I missed in this post, though, is Lewis’s very own conclusion of this chapter:

Such is my ideal day, and such than (almost) was the reality, of ” settled, calm Epicurean life.” It is no doubt for my own good that I have been so generally prevented from leading it, for it is a life almost entirely selfish. 

In these lines, Lewis put his own Ideal Day into perspective. I like that very much. He was not a selfish person. We know he thought about others, seeing the letters he wrote and the impact he has on so many millions of people after his death—another very good reason to be writing.

My Ideal Day:

That brings me to my very own Ideal Daily Routine. I came up with a word that covers all life domains that you find in a Rule for Life. In my Ideal Day, there is time for everything: I used the word DOMAINS to cover all life domains and give daily attention to all of them. The word Domains is having the same root as Dominion. The Lord is my King and He has dominion over my whole life. Every part of it.

Dei – Time with God, solid foundation

Organize your work/plan /make a list

Must do/Do it /no excuse

Affect others – Relationships/ hang out with friends/family

In the body – Stay healthy, food/sport

Nature – See beauty, listen to music, nourish your artistic soul

Sabbath – Rest and start again all in good time to bring everything to a closure at the end. 

But, what works for me, does not have to work for you.

# Challenge: How would you describe your Ideal Day? Please, let me know by e-mail, or just below. Let’s learn from each other these day’s when we are all struggling probably with this unusual situation. A Pandemia and underlying, anxiety, feeling all over the place, living under a black cloud. Trying to trust our Lord, nevertheless.


Warm greetings, Janneke


  1. I have just been made redundant due to a restructuring at the company I’ve worked at for the past two years. Loved my job as it fitted well with my gifts and abilities, and we had a great team. So I’m gutted I lost my position and now am thrown back into job hunting at the worst possible time!
    That said, my parish church has organised to do morning and evening prayers by Zoom, so that is giving me structure at a time when I’ve been catapulted back into a wilderness, metaphorically speaking. I do go out for a walk every day, to the nearby river/church yard/ cricket field (very English!) and that helps me.. I also always have several books on the go, to nurture my soul.

  2. I am enjoying hear about his day and yours, as well as the name of the little book “Surprised by Joy”.
    Thank you for sharing! My ideal day consists of many of those elements as well!! I just need to “organize” it better or I lose out on doing the things I ideally hope to do!! Blessings!

  3. and where is the care for others…reaching out, not just via thinking and writing, but in person? The social dimension seems rather ‘thin’.

  4. Hey Tom, Yes, I get your point. But it is a frame and it is under “affecting others” It differs from person to person. For me… I have to actively make place to get things done for myself, as we have so much family time and ” thinking of others” For someone else, it is probably the other way round. The idea is that all 7 domains are covered in a frame. How you fill in your personal frame is up to you. What would you suggest otherwise? I also follow the DOMAINS mention in a Rule of Life, which is in a way, also a frame. Thanks for thinking with me…

  5. Hey! Yes, that is true… usually you cover most of them if you live a kind of normal life I think. It is more that I like to have some letters to remind myself if I did it. I find it helpful to use the Letters DOMAINS. Enjoy the booklet! Great to hear from you.

  6. Hey Priscilla, Great to hear from you, but sad to hear about your job loss. Nice to see how many of the DOMAINS you actually cover, without knowing it. Morning/evening prayer, (Dominion) I am sure you have to think about job hunt (Organize) and find the courage to do it (M, must do) Pay attention to your kids and others(A Affecting others) walking,(In the body) reading (Nurture your soul) and wrap up the day. It looks like a pretty healthy balanced lifestyle! Love.

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