There are things which I do to simplify my mornings and make the start to my day a bit easier. I suppose that some of them may border on obsessive compulsive disorder, but I prefer to think of them as being efficient. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
First, I have a two-level closet in which my shirts hang above my pants. I’ve culled my wardrobe such that any shirt either matches or coordinates with any pants. This way, each morning I just grab whatever is furthest to the left on each level and I’m good to go. No need to stop and mull over the possible combinations. An added benefit is that it does not matter in what order I hang them up.
Second, I have my breakfast mostly ready to go the night before. My basic coffee maker does not have a timer, so I fill the basket with grounds and the water reservoir so all I have to do is turn it on. I also prepare my food the night before. I often have steel cut oats which take a while to cook, so I leave them soaking overnight. Then all I have to do is add some nuts and berries and microwave them for a minute. I also like to make tofu scramble with veggies, so I make a large pan ahead of time and microwave a serving. And so on. I may not save lots of time overall but it certainly feels less hectic to me.
Third, I frequently get up an hour early and in the winter, I do 30 minutes of spinning on my indoor bike trainer. In warmer weather, I like to go for a bike ride outdoors. I started doing this in the summer of 2017 when I discovered the joy of cycling. I admit, I need to be a bit more consistent about getting up early and riding, so it’s a bit of a work in progress on that front. Tangentially related to this is my avoidance of the morning news on TV or radio for the past couple of years. I have no need or desire to begin my day on a sour note by consuming what passes for news these days.
So there you have it. These are the three main ways in which I simplify my mornings. I’d enjoy hearing how you simplify or streamline yours.
Time can’t be made or found, but it can be prioritized.
Over the past few years I’ve been continuously reducing the number of things I own. This is a process I refer to as “decrappification”, borrowing a phrase from the computing world. Basically, I am trying to simplify my life and that includes decluttering my house.
So, of course, something comes along to upset my plans. That something is a renewed interest in cycling this past summer. I got the two bikes I owned out of storage, tuned and cleaned them, and I’ve been slightly less than obsessed with riding since. One bike is a 1990 Univega Nuovo Sport 10 speed road bike, which is great for riding on pavement. The other is a 1992 L. L. Bean Approach (non-suspension) mountain bike with all-purpose tires, which is suited for riding on gravel and dirt roads in my neighborhood.
I’m riding my Approach indoors on a trainer now that it’s gotten colder as winter approaches, but that’s not the same as being outside. My Univega, having skinny road slick tires, is clearly not suited for winter riding when there is snow and ice on the roads. I don’t want to subject my Approach to road salt and grime. That’s why I bought a pair of used Mongoose Spectra full suspension mountain bikes a couple days ago, for the princely sum of $50.00.
One has a frozen front fork but a good rear cassette. The other is just the opposite. Both have cable and twist shifter issues. All four tire tubes won’t hold air. Here’s the thing: between them I can make one good, essentially $25.00 winter beater bike for riding after it starts snowing. If it gets salty and dirty, so what? (I have no idea yet what I’ll do with the leftovers, but I’m sure something will come to me.)
Oh, and did I mention I’ve got my eye on a Kent/GMC Denali aluminum frame, flat bar road bike?
Sometimes the process of decluttering and decrappification is not about messy rooms or an overabundance of possessions. Sometimes it is about time and commitments. There are a finite number of hours in each day, week, month, and year. How we apportion our time has an impact upon us.
For example, for the past three years I’ve been on the Board of Directors of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine. It’s been an interesting experience, and I enjoyed being with the people on the Board. However, when my term recently expired, I chose to not continue. The thing is, I found myself stretch thinly more often than not this past year. As much as I valued being on the Board, it wasn’t an essential use of my time.
I once read a suggestion that one should make a list of one’s top five time commitments, in terms of personal importance. Anything that didn’t make the list would then be considered optional. For me the top five commitments (in no particular order) are work, church, friends and family, home maintenance, and exercising. Among other things with which I was involved in varying degrees, the Board didn’t make the cut, so I cut it. Cutting commitments which aren’t essential, useful, or pleasurable frees up time for those which are, and decreases my stress. Give it a try!
Time can’t be made or found, but it can be prioritized.
I’ve been building a home obstacle course the past few weeks which I have been calling my “mini-Ninja” course, inspired by the show American Ninja Warrior. When it’s done it will look like a grown up version of a kid’s jungle gym. The problem I have been facing is that the darn thing is so heavy it’s difficult to assemble on my own.
That came home to roost last Sunday when the structure collapsed while I was trying to raise the taller of the two end pieces. I managed to dodge most of it, but I torqued my left forearm a little trying to stabilize it before I saw the futility of that effort. I admit, looking at that pile of timbers an pipes I felt more than a little discouraged. I may even have sung a few choruses of “the old four letter serenade”.
There thing is, it’s not a bad idea-it may even be pretty good! It’s the execution that has been problematic. So I have come up with a new idea for stabilizing the two end pieces in two directions at once to help keep them standing. Instead of trying to man-handle 12 foot long 4 x 4 timbers into place in brackets to connect the two ends, I’m going to use two 12 foot long 2 x 4 timbers which will be much easier to maneuver and will accomplish what I need just as well.
The upshot of this is that when you suffer a setback, it’s OK to get angry and annoyed. Go ahead and vent-I sure did! But get it out of your system and get back to what you were doing. If you need to, rethink the process and come at the problem from a different angle. Just don’t give up.
Here is my revised plan-bracing in two directions!
I strenuously exercise on a regular basis because I want to be healthy. I eat vegan because I don’t want animals to suffer on my behalf. I decrappify because I want less stuff cluttering up my house and attention. I do 90 percent of the repairs on my house to save money and frankly, because I can. So there you have it, the motivations for four of the big ticket items in my life.
Here’s the thing: motivation is all at once personal and situation-specific. At the end of the day, each of us must identify that which we value and how much we value it. For example, if you want to lose weight but aren’t willing to move a bit more and eat a bit less, you like the idea of losing weight but you aren’t motivated enough to do the necessary work. I lost count of the number of times someone has told me they’d love to drop a few pounds, but when I suggest easy ways to start, they balk.
They are not motivated so much as they are wishful. Well guess what, there ain’t no genie in a magic lamp here.
It isn’t just weight loss, either. Anything that can or should matter to you (and I leave it to you to make that distinction) is subject to motivation. And, that which is subject to motivation is also subject to its loss. So how do you find and maintain motivation? Here is what works for me: keep the reason I started something in mind (I keep my “before” photo on my fridge to remind myself why I exercise), I participate in online accountability groups for support and feedback, I view challenges (like home repairs) as opportunities not limitations, and I don’t let setbacks define my level of success (speed bumps are not the end of the road).