It’s not good enough. I wouldn’t be acting like this if I had children to feed. I’m too comfortable. I joked the other day that marriage has made me flabby and weak. In truth, the time off was well spent but in returning to “normal” I’ve embraced the worst and shunned the best of my routines.
I love ritual as a concept. Regular, reoccurring beneficial activities. My most enjoyable days are like clockwork, with the “big rocks” toppling early. When I evaluate honestly, using the internet like a replacement television is far and away the largest obstruction to my productivity, and removing it as an obstruction the biggest win. Honestly, I am better off dedicating my free time to quality video games.
What does an ideal or perfect day look like? You’ll see exercises like this commonly in business, marketing or personal development seminars. Usually there’s a financial focus - work out the cost of your perfect day and you can plan your income requirements around it. The trouble with this approach is that financial freedom is more than replicating the same day over and over. My wedding day was pretty perfect but I’d need a fair chunk of cash to have another one! Anyhow, never mind the money and the concept of perfect. Instead, let’s ask a better question: what does an optimum “normal” day look like for me? I often toy with the concept of templating my best self. This should get me pretty close (and close the loop on it once and for all):
More than eight hours sleep. Ten is great.
- Food and tea on waking. I don’t like to wait for breakfast. I love a good fry up. Bacon, eggs, mushrooms, beans and toast. English black tea. Lots of water. In general, the sooner I eat the sooner I get stuff done. I am useless on an empty stomach.
- Olympic weightlifting. Get it out of the way early, but not at the expense of sleep. Most of my training is done in the morning these days. Getting to bed early is essential. Anything after ten o’clock is too late for me.
- Hanna Somatic Movement Education. A minimum of half an hour per day. When it comes to quality movement, more is better. Remember than half an hour a day equates to roughly 4% of your remaining waking life, so it better be important. If you spend two hours or more per day surfing the internet…
- Attention Training. I use Susan Piver’s ten to fifteen minute videos. Seated meditation. If you can’t do ten minutes per day every single day, you’re probably not ready for a weekend retreat or even a half hour class. I’m not consistent enough here to comment further.
- Reading. I don’t read much fiction. Most of what I read is study material and it’s both entertaining and informative. Right now I’m reading a book about squatting regularly. Remember that reading is not study, though. Study is study.
- Study. Take a worthwhile text and pick it apart. Study time is about turning what you’ve read into process that can be applied to your situations. A very simple example: I read a book on squatting and it recommends tracking tonnage. I currently don’t track tonnage so I build this into my logging and monitor squat tonnage vs lifting total.
- Playing video games. Doesn’t apply to everyone. Necessary for me. This is my true downtime. Certain games are more stressful than others. Too stressful impacts recovery so I choose intuitively which games are suitable.
- Family time. Obvious, varied, and not worth elaborating further on.
- Work. Also obvious. Do what needs doing. Do it well. Don’t take it too seriously. This is the bulk of waking time.
This routine is mostly hard graft and focused recovery. I don’t see it as unfeasible. Lifting doesn’t occur every single day so reading and study can expand to fill the gaps. Gaming can slide for weeks on end. Study can be undertaken in bursts as a project, two weeks on two weeks off for instance. Reading can be as little as fifteen minutes. So long as the work gets done and recovery is prioritised (movement, attention training, family time) you’re golden. You’ll notice there’s very little wiggle room. I estimate hitting every single activity in one day would bring me in at twenty-three hours. That’s not much slack or downtime to mess about. Financially this is a great idea, because the activities I choose are fulfilling and low cost. A single video game, even at full price, can provide over a hundred hours of entertainment. I’ve got enough books to keep me going for years. Where does the money go? It’s all investment in some form or other - quality food, further education, travel to visit family abroad, mortgage overpayments… anything that’s not wastage.
This is the model I’m aspiring too. There’s no space here for internet surfing.