Thursday, January 22, 2015

Efficiency And Cosmic Rays

I've been thinking about routines and efficiency lately.

Maybe it's on my mind because of the new job and rethinking my daily schedule. Maybe it's because I bought a new Bag of Holding, a piece of luggage which actually does seem to defy the laws of physical reality. Maybe it's because a cosmic ray, while on its journey from one end of the universe to the other, randomly intersected the part of my brain which usually doesn't give a fuck about such things and blasted it temporarily into nonexistence. Who knows?

But I've been thinking about routines.

The previously-mentioned Bag of Holding does not actually defy any physical laws. It's simply a well-designed bag, with pockets everywhere you'd need pockets, even in places you didn't know you needed them until you saw a bag that had them. Then you see them and think, well, of course. They should put a magnetic clasp and a flap there because, well, duh.

A well-designed routine is like that. It's a force multiplier for time. If you have a bit of downtime and you maximize it in such a way that doesn't annoy or kill you, then it's probably worth it--it frees up time later in the day for something else, like relaxing or writing, or grooming your alpaca or something.

Case in point. Breakfast.

In earlier parts of the continuing saga of the Life of Mike, I'd either skip breakfast or half-ass it. Eat a bowl of cereal or some ghastly protein shake concoction. Or I might grab a donut or some kind of dense bagel-type constructions. The activity would essentially fill up any non-shower-related part of my morning. In those days, I'd wake up at the last possible minute before work and then just shoot in, hair still wet, still mentally foggy, still digesting said whatever-I'd-been-eating.

Looking back, it wasn't entirely optimal. If you start off the day on the run, you'll be on the run all day. Yes, I sound like a damn fortune cookie. Yes, it's also true. Start out off-balance, then you'll feel off-balance all day, at least until your brain catches up somewhere around lunch. That's why mornings suck for a lot of people.

So I make a special point these days to try to get the most out of mornings possible. Currently, I'm packing a lot of work into breakfast. I take care of it right after meditation, so usually my brain is still slightly adrift. That's okay.

I start boiling water for coffee. While that's going, I make some coffee cup eggs: splash some egg whites from a container into a coffee mug I've sprayed cooking oil in. Dash of salt. Dash of pepper. Nuke for a minute. While that's going,  I set out a plate and prepare the Chemex.

By that time the one minute is up. I take the coffee cup out, whisk the egg whites, put it back in for another two minutes.

Then I put a dash of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, flax seeds into a bowl and make some dressing. I pile up some greens on the plate.

By that time, the water is probably about done boiling, so I bloom my coffee. The two minutes usually finish right about that time, so my eggs are done: I dump them onto the plate, chop them up so they look less like geometry homework and more like something I'd actually want to eat, sprinkle a small amount of cheese and then a few spoonfuls of salsa on top. I add the dressing to the greens and then start brewing coffee.

And then I eat. Or I eat while I'm brewing the coffee, since it takes a few minutes for everything to seep through the Chemex.

All told: about fifteen or twenty minutes to prepare and eat a solid, reasonably healthy breakfast. Minimal dishes and I finish up with a couple cups of great coffee to drink while catching up on news or writing. No muss, no fuss, no stress, few dirty dishes. Not much in the way of running around like a crazy man trying to finish it all up in time. In fact, if I were to forgo the coffee step, I'd be done preparing breakfast in exactly three minutes, according to the microwave timer.

Sometimes just putting a little thought into the process in which you do things beforehand will multiply the things you accomplish while simultaneously greatly reducing your stress levels. It's worth putting some thought into if it's something you do every day.

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