Getting Up To Speed

Routine: it's like a highway- it may not be pretty but it will get you where you're going.

Routine: it’s like a highway- it may not be pretty but it will get you where you’re going.

My grandfather was a great believer in routine.

He began each day with the same routine of floor exercises; always the same number of repetitions and always using the same old brick as a weight. He would shower for the same amount of time, using the same kind of soap (Dove) and put on the same blue track suit. Breakfast consisted of five reconstituted prunes, two biscuits of original shredded wheat with green grapes and milk, Mandarin orange spice tea from Celestial seasonings, and a slice of Entenmann’s cheese coffee cake. He then spent a requisite thirty minutes of quiet contemplation on the throne of solitude before declaring his day ready to begin.

It didn’t matter what time the day needed to begin: if Grandpa needed to be ready for a flight leaving at six am he would backwards-engineer his morning in order to incorporate The Routine even if that meant setting an alarm for four in the morning. He kept a journal: not as a record of his thoughts or ideas but as an accounting of his time, resources, consumption, and (no doubt) production.

In my family we always joke about The Routine for being so extreme, but if I find myself laughing I know that it is because I am also laughing at myself. I haven’t reached diligence to the point of absurdity, but I imagine that it is really only a matter of time until I do. There is no doubt in my mind that I am a creature of routine.

Many people like to dismiss a routine lifestyle as “going through the motions” because it is easy to become so wrapped up in staying on-routine that the meaningful parts of life pass you by, but I find routine both comforting for it’s familiarity as well as useful in it’s structure. On the days when I stay on routine I can get a lot more done than on the days I just try to wing it.

On the days when I am able to stay on routine I will go for my run first thing in the morning, eat breakfast, shower, change, arrive at my desk by nine, write my blog, work until noon, break for lunch, work until four thirty, go for a walk, work until six, enjoy a beer, practice my bass, eat dinner, watch a little TV and go to bed satisfied that I’ve crossed at least three or four tasks off my list.

On the days when I wing it I sleep in, stagger to my desk at nine (because there must be SOME rules or everything is anarchy- ANARCHY!) eat breakfast while checking emails, try to think of a blog, work until one or two or until I get so hungry my hands start to shake, eat lunch, shower, change, work until four thirty, go for a walk, goof off for a while, buckle down to do some more work until the sun starts to go down, decide to go for a late run, make dinner, watch TV, and go to bed feeling like I wasted a bunch of time that I’ll never get back.

So whether you love routine or hate it you have to admit there is something inherently useful in having a set schedule that you don’t need to think about every step of the way.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on March 17, 2013.

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