Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Routines, Time, and a Little OCD

The other weekend, a coworker asked me to house sit. It was quite enjoyable - having a a place to hang clothes, a full bathroom, a kitchen, and . . . well, SPACE was almost like a little vacation. I had the opportunity to do laundry without burning through rolls of quarters, and my meals weren't all prepared in the microwave out of necessity. Don't get me wrong though - I've grown fairly accustomed to sleeping in my car and living out of a storage unit at this point, and I'm strangely fond my lifestyle in a way. It was more or less like getting to stay in a really nice hotel on a business trip instead of in the same bedroom at home that has become so routine.

However, the very first morning, I had a heck of a time to the point that it was rather comical. As I was getting ready for work, I started to head out the door, but I quickly realized that I had forgotten my badge. I rummaged around the house and managed to find it after a few minutes. After getting in my car and putting it in gear, I looked at my seat and realized that I had forgotten to grab anything for lunch. Since I was staying in a house, I brought all of my groceries inside, and there was nothing for me at the work refrigerator. So, I quickly ran inside and grabbed a sandwich. Finally, I hopped in the car and drove out of the neighborhood. When I reached the main intersection I suddenly realized that I didn't have my laptop - GAH!!! I returned home, packed up my work bag, and got in my car again. When I got to the office, I realized that my work phone was on the coffee table back home. Whatever - I don't need to have it with me, so I just went inside.

After all of that, I couldn't help but laugh at myself a little bit. What a creature of habit I have become! I have a routine and a method for EVERYTHING in my life at this point, really, and staying at a house disrupted my patterns completely. I guess part of it is the engineering mindset that I have: - I strive to make some of the most common tasks in my life more efficient, and it develops into a routine for me. In a lot of ways, it's really been one of the keys to making how I live possible. For instance, I have a very specific way that I pack my gym bag, and it keeps things compact and neat while also keeping me from forgetting anything. After locking my work badge in the shower room once, I made a little policy for myself that I have to be holding it in my hand before I walk out. In my car, I always put my cell phone, wallet, badge, alarm, and my glasses in the same place so that I know where they are and I don't end up forgetting them. All of these routines have saved me on numerous occasions.

What does it matter to you, though, humble homeowner? Why should you care about my (slightly obsessive-compulsive) routines? Well, it's fairly simple, really - routines help us get organized and stay focused on bigger tasks instead of worrying about the details. They save time and help us tackle more important tasks. What routines can you set up for yourself? This can be anything from small routines that revolve around daily tasks to routines that plan out your whole day. Do you go through certain steps in the morning to get ready so you make sure that you haven't forgotten anything and don't have to run in circles when you're sleepy and can't think? Do you have a particular schedule of tasks that you run through on the weekend to make sure that you can get your laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning done on time by staggering the tasks together? Can you set aside specific days and times where you hammer out and focus on tedious tasks all at once (such as paying bills or handling paperwork)? These may sound like common-sense or maybe even rather over-detailed, but if you get into routines and habits, it's surprising how much more organized your daily life will become, and as a result, you'll have more time to focus on what really matters in life.

In closing, someone once told me that the saying, "Time is money," is the biggest lie ever. You can always earn more money, but you can't earn any more time than what you have in life. Time is EVERYTHING. What can you change or improve about your day-to-day life that will save you time?