I am a creature of routine. The older I get, the more I crave order in my morning, gym, and bedtime routine. An Art of Manliness podcast introduced me to the concept of shark habits and pirate maps. Shark habits are “one bite and done” activities that get put on autopilot so we don’t have to decide what to do. I really like the idea of shark habits as it systemizes human “subroutines” such as getting dressed, making meals, going to a store, etc. Each day I know I am reading a nonfiction book, reading a fiction book, writing a blog post, getting my bag ready in the car for the next day, etc. This resonates with David Allen’s Getting Things Done three d’s: Do it; Delegate it; or Defer it. Allen suggests that if you can do it in under two minutes, do it right away.
Another area in which Dan John espouses is systemizing your wardrobe. He owns multiples of the same jeans, shirts, shoes and other clothing items to reduce the “what do I wear today?” decision. President Obama only owned gray or blue suits to reduce his decisions in the morning, as he knew he had many important decisions to make during the day. This is another great aspect about being a full time military officer: I’ve only have four choices of uniforms in the last fourteen years! As far as civilian clothes, the main item I have been focusing on is my underwear. The Ex Officio brand of underwear feels great, is lightweight, and can be washed in the sink and line-dried to fit with a travel schedule.
This can extend to eating at home as well. Keeping your meal routine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner eliminates extra choices and can keep your grocery budget lower each month as well.
Another big part of my daily routine is my bullet journal, currently on year 3. This system lets me focus on the defer actions or ideas, so I’m not constantly looking at my phone or searching into Google random ideas. As I migrate tasks from one day to the next, week to week, or carrying over from the previous month, I ask the deliberate question “Is this action really necessary?”
My sleep routine focuses on letting my body wind down and relax before sleeping. The goal is for every night to:
- Close the laptop by 7pm
- Turn off the TV by 9:30pm
- Prep next day lunches
- Take supplements (magnesium, zinc, melatonin)
- Read fiction for 30 minutes
Note: I haven’t really been taking supplements at night consistently since last summer. When you get out of bed before 0600 everyday, you basically ensure you can fall asleep quickly at night.