On Simplicity

April 19, 2008

Improve Your Morning Routine… by Adding Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Filed under: Simple Living — Serendipity @ 9:40 am

Picture your morning routine and imagine your feelings as you get ready to head off to work. Are you relaxed and at ease, or are you hustling and sweating? If you’re like most people, it’s the latter. I know sweaty and stressed certainly describes me in the morning—at least more than serene and satisfied. Do you sometimes wish you could start off your days on a sweeter note? Then try doing the opposite of what simplifiers usually do: muck up the routine and add more stuff to do. After all, sometimes the simplest things can be the most complicated. Oxymoronic, maybe, but it’s been working for me.

Let’s look at a morning routine for someone with minimal fussiness—in other words, someone who’s already trying to simplify:

7:00 a.m.: Wake up. Hit snooze.

7:08: Out of bed. Hit the bathroom, wash the hands and face, brush teeth, and check the weather outside. (Showered the night before).

7:15: To the closet to find something to wear.

7:25: Hair and makeup.

7:30: Scarf a bowl of cereal.

7:40: Put the dog out (apologetically, for not playing with him at all), along with food and water, collect anything to take to work (coat, gloves, special project items, etc.), find/pack a lunch.

7:50: Set the alarm, get out the door, throw the mail in the box, and drive off to work.

**This is my morning routine. It is not right for everyone. It is not even always right for me. It’s just an example–please accept any discrepancies between this and your own routine as invidividual quirks or preferences.

It looks pretty good in some ways; it’s pretty simple, with not a lot of fluff. There’s not even coffee involved! It has just one aim: get out the door prepared for the day ahead. That should be good, right? Well, in reality, not so much… The truth is, this schedule gives me maximum sleep but leaves little room for error. When the dog is fussy or I can’t figure out what to wear, or my mascara smudges, or I drop an egg in the tupperware drawer (it can happen, trust me), the whole thing goes to hell in a handbasket. Even on a good day (meaning I hit snooze just once), there isn’t a moment to spare, so I have to hustle every step of the way. By the time I get to the car, I already need some calming music to put myself in a tolerable state of mind. And that’s all before I step into my office! With this kind of schedule, it’s easy to arrive on the job frazzled and forgetful, if not late (and in possession of a newly acquired speeding ticket).

Let’s take a look at a different schedule. It’s got a lot more going on, it takes forever, and it requires some sacrifices to be made. Sounds like it will suck, right?

5:30 a.m.: Get up. Right now. Like, this minute. Start the coffee. Let the smell permeate the house.

5:35: Pajama meditation time. Focus on breathing. Enjoy the calm. Stretch a bit or add in yoga if you prefer.

6:05: Pour yourself a mug of coffee or tea to enjoy throughout the morning.

6:10: Play with dog, the kids, your spouse, or just dance and let loose.

6:30: Shower, because now you stink.

6:45: Get dressed. Take your time to enjoy the process, feel the texture of different clothes, and choose something you really feel good in. Try on about 10 pairs of shoes before going back to the first one and don’t feel guilty about it.

7:05: Groom yourself till you feel like a million bucks.

7:20: Enjoy some breakfast on the patio in the sun. Pour some delicious OJ into your favorite special occasion glass and sip slowly as you look out at your surroundings. (If you’ve got a pet, let them join you and then leave them in peace outside.) Or, curl up in your favorite chair–as long as it’s comfy.

7:40: Make a lunch and take a lap around the house for anything that needs to be brought to work or dropped in the mailbox.

7:50: Set the alarm and drive off to work.

What’s the net benefit? A morning that refreshes and renews your body and spirit, leaving you prepared and energized for the rest of your day. Time set aside to do things that often get pushed aside for less important matters. A built-in cushion, designed to keep your mornings stress-free. The net cost? A little more than an hour (the shower is simply switched from night to morning, so I haven’t counted that in the cost).

What makes this more elaborate morning routine more “simple” than the first one? In short, the peace it can bring. After all, the point of simplicity–for most, not all people–is the serenity and the enhanced lifestyle it can bring. While this revamped routine adds more items, the end result is a morning that matches the goals of a simple lifestyle. Instead of using the method of simplicity to bring order and peace to your life, you can, in essence, cut out the middleman and bring the order and peace right in.

Now this solution certainly won’t work for everyone. In fact, some people may look at the first schedule and decide that it’s a much better option for them. After all, the whole concept of lifestyle design (scheduling your time and priorities instead of letting life just carry you away) is nothing if not extremely personal. But, for those of us who find little comfort in the daily dash, a bit of complexity might just bring us some simple peace.


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