Removing Myself From Mindless Routines

I had a hard time getting going in the morning until I established a routine that serves to take mindful decisions out of mindless tasks.

This is my strict routine every Monday through Friday:

  • 5:20 AM – My alarm rings.
  • 5:30 AM till 6:20 AM – I read.
  • 6:20 AM till 6:33 AM – I shower and get myself dressed for the day (I wear the same black t-shirt every day and wear the same style jeans).
  • 6:34 AM till 7:07 AM – I make my lunch, eat my breakfast (I eat the same breakfast every day, and most of my lunches are the same). I brush my teeth and then feed the dog.
  • 7:15 AM – I buy the same coffee at the same coffee shop on the way to work.
  • I arrive to work sometime around 7:30 AM.

If it’s a workday, this is my strict morning routine. It never changes, it never waivers, and yes, it is that planned and exact.

I am automatic.

For the majority of my career (say 90% of it), I had struggled with getting my brain ramped up for a day’s work. I was a horribly slow starter in the morning, and if I managed to get myself to work at 8 AM, I wouldn’t be in the position to really start working until around 10:30 AM; even that was a stretch on some days. I would just stare at the monitor, and my brain would misfire. I wasted a significant portion of my day just not being engaged! It wasn’t until I found a mindless, decision-less morning routine that I unlocked the secret to my new relentless work ethic.

I am paid to think, it is my job to use my brain to compile a combination of letters and numbers to enable the customers I serve to get back to work. As it is the most significant tool for my job, I have to take more caution to the care I give my brain, especially in the morning. Realizing that my mind is not the quickest at waking up, I had to allow it its own time to “warm up.” Like a warm-up before a workout, I had to slowly get it moving by reading and keeping decision-making to a bare minimum.

There are scientific numbers around that state the adult brain makes about 35,000 decisions a day. Before you even get to work in the morning, it is very possible that you could use up at least 3,000 – 4,000 of those decisions before you make your way into the office. Waking up, getting up, selecting socks, underwear, shirt, pants, belt, you name it; they all require decisions to be made. Deciding what to eat, how to prepare it, fixing lunch and then cleaning up. All decisions that have to be made. I have meticulously removed a vast majority of those decisions by gradually establishing strict automaticity to my morning routine.

My wife thinks I am nuts!

I understand many of you may think that this is crazy talk and maybe even that I am a little OCD. But this really works for me. I have no variety in my breakfast, lunch and my wardrobe for my day at work but I am willing to sacrifice variety so that the rest of my day is filled with adventure and change. By the end of my workday, I still have brain power left to be a functioning member of my family. I still have the energy to move, think, create and enjoy life.

This type of lifestyle is not for everyone, but one thing is sure, we make too many decisions. If you find yourself tired before the day even begins, take time to evaluate where you spend your brain power. Dig deep and re-think how you think and make it a habit of cutting corners wherever you can. We only have so many minutes in a day, and we just have so many decisions to make, we may as well use both as efficiently as we possibly can.

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