#280 - Good Routine ⇾ Good Life

6 minute read

Motto: Set Achievable Daily Goals and Achieve Them Daily

I've struggled not to start every Column I've written over the past few months with "everything is really good". I didn't write it because it isn't all that interesting to read, but today's post is mostly about how and why I think things are so good for me lately.

Routine, the thing that i had heard about as the chief complaint of relationships in televised sitcoms, has turned out to be not something I'm afraid of, but instead something I am actively interested in cultivating. It is the primary subject I am going to write about today; so strap in or bail out now.

Routine has several definitions:
Those are all accurate and fine definitions of routine, but I'd prefer just to say that routine is life. You sleep at night. You eat two or three times a day. You wash and dry your clothes when they are sufficiently dirty. Those are routines and they make sense. If you skipped out on any of of those things on a long enough timeline, you'd find yourself in trouble (either dead or smelly), so you do those things. But those aren't the only routines we have. Each of us have hundreds of things (on a macroscopic and microscopic scale) that we do as routines.

Unlock the car with keyless entry on approach. Engage handle with convenient hand. Look inside car to determine if debris needs shifting or cleaning before you and your current cargo may enter. Place right foot on floorboard and use hand(s) on your preferred surface(s) to stabilize yourself on entry. Sit in seat. Bring other foot inside of the vehicle, ensuring it and all other items are clear from the path of the door. Close the door. Engage ignition mechanism with the right hand.

That's a lot of stuff, yet we all do it every time. We don't think about it; we just do it. But that wasn't always the case. There was a "first time", a time before we established the routine. The routine was arrived at through trial and error. Now that you have a routine, you're a car entering fool. Don't even have to think about it (you stud).

The car entry example is a microscopic routine that everyone has got figured out... but it would be easy to go through life without looking at your bigger routines. That is a potentially dangerous (or, at the very least, inefficient) way of doing things. If you don't stop to consider what you're doing on a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, or even year-to-year basis, you will end up in a "how did I get here?" situation. 

There's another definition of "routine" that I like:

This is really the crux of argument I'm making. Doing things because that's just what you do, rather than finding a special reason to do everything. If you only go to the gym on special occasions, you won't go to the gym very often. If you aren't intentional with how you're filling out your days, they will be filled with whatever... and whatever just isn't very ambitious.

A good routine covers all the bases, while leaving room for flexibility. It doesn't take up 100% of your day, 7 days a week. It is also not a one-size-fits all type of solution.

I've been in my new job for a couple of months now. I'm fairly settled as far as timing goes. I know when I'll be there, when I won't be; and with this knowledge I've carved out a pretty great (for me) routine.

My Routine (Mon-Fri):
  • Morning
    • Wake.
    • Start coffee.
    • Make & eat breakfast (whatever variety is fine).
    • Get dressed.
    • Pack pre-made lunch into lunch box.
    • Finish coffee & make protein drink (water + whey powder).
    • Drive to work, listening to a podcast (whichever podcast is cool).
    • Drink whole coffee on commute.
  • Work
    • Drink protein drink.
    • Rinse and refill with straight water.
    • Drink. Refill. Continue to lunch as needed.
    • Lunch: Refill with water, add caffeinated crystal light.
    • Eat lunch you brought in, unless there's a better option.
    • Rinse and refill with straight water.
    • Continue until end of workday.
  • After work
    • Workout: MWF - lift weights, TuTh - basketball (after basketball season this will be readjusted).
    • Drive home, listening to a podcast or talking with someone on the phone using my car's phone integration.
    • At home, shower.
    • Make dinner - starting with the question "what is the base of this meal going to be?", following up with appropriate followups.
    • Eat dinner.
    • Clean dinner & put away work stuff + whatever other junk has accumulated.
    • Spend the remaining 1-3 hours doing whatever.
    • Brush & floss.
    • Get in bed.
    • Start sleep tracker Android app, close eyes. Dream of electric sheep.
  • Repeat.
My Routine (Sat):
  • (This section intentionally blank)
My Routine (Sun):

  • Every-other Sunday, beat Ben at pool.
  • Deep clean the place (the depth may vary from week to week)
  • Create some form of bulk meal for the first couple of lunches for Melissa and I.
Writing it out like that makes it sound formal, like I've got a checklist that I carry around and check things off as I go - but that's not true. Just like the car entry example before, it's just what happens. It's not rigid. It's not without exception. It's just generally what I try to do. If I manage to do it more often than not, I wind up feeling pretty good about things. It makes me happy now and hopefully will enable happiness in the long term. Happiness is what we're all going for, right?

Some people might read that and think "wow that sounds incredible boring". To those people: Shut up. Go away. Like your life is so interesting.

But really, Saturdays are always different. I try to fill out each night with different stuff. I try to make new meals. I've got vacation hours. If "routine" is a boring concept for you, then I would say you have a boring routine.

This Column doesn't necessarily lend itself to a picture to go out on - but this picture I took of the best made-from-scratch meal I've ever prepared seems to be a good idea. This thing was packed with protein (and flavor!).

Top 5: Additions I'd like to make to the routine, but haven't yet had the discipline for
5. Catch up on my "me" projects (Columns, Second-A-Day Videos, Life Tracking) 
4. Have an established time which is dedicated for learning stuff - the stuff rotating on a weekly basis (learning music, coding stuff, etc)
3. Read before bed every night
2. Meal prep Sundays - make all lunches for the entire week
1. Before-work workouts

"Three bookmarks. Three books."
- Melissa, whose New Year's resolutions are as ambitious as my own -