Spring is here, and with it comes warmer days, longer evenings, and Saturday morning yard sales.
Last week I talked about spring cleaning for the mind. Today I want to hit on spring cleaning for the schedule.
While I enjoy a good yardsale as much as the next fellow (especially if there are books) they basically rely on the idea of one person’s trash being another person’s treasure — or if one person’s trash is cheap enough, perhaps you can’t afford not to take it and pretend it’s treasure until it makes it’s way out into your lawn with a sticker reading “25¢ or best offer.”
I was thinking about this topic when I received a newsletter from Micheal Easter (Sign up here). He opened it with the observation, “Morning routines are a distraction.”
As someone who is a big fan of my BDR, or Basic Daily Routine, I immediately bristled, but knew there had to be more to his opinion, so I read on.
He went on to talk about how the perfect morning routine has become a measure of success. We want to know and copy the BDRs of the rich and famous. BDRs have become a status symbol: Meditation, morning yoga, cold plunging, intermittent fasting, etc.
None of these things are inherently bad in and of themselves, but there is danger in picking something up and taking it home just because someone offers it to you. What works well for someone else might not work for you, and not everyone who is successful relies on an elaborate BDR.
Easter writes: For every successful person who follows a 90-minute morning wellness routine, many more wake up and do things that would send online wellness and productivity gurus into a death spiral.
For example, Warren Buffett is worth $105 billion and arguably the smartest financial mind of our time. He wakes at 6:45 a.m. and pokes around some newspapers. Then he drives to McDonald’s and buys a Sausage McMuffin with Egg and a Coca-Cola. Full sugar.
I wouldn’t recommend taking on Buffett’s routine any more than I would recommend taking on mine without applying a level of scrutiny. We owe it to ourselves to take a hard look at the things we put in our bodies and on our schedules, and this is as good of a time as any to review—spring cleaning style.
Are you spending time on things that aren’t important to you?
What are you devoting time to?
Is each thing moving you towards your goals?
Not too long ago I began a morning meditation routine. I enjoyed it and increased from five minutes to thirty over the course of a month or two. It wasn’t until I did a schedule-scrub that I realized that I was giving up a half hour of sleep to fit in thirty minutes of mindfulness.
There is also plenty of research showing that meditating for as little as ten minutes can provide benefits, so I moved my practice to a shorter block later in the day and gained an extra half hour of sleep.
It would be great if adopting the BDR of your favorite life-hacker left you healthy, wealthy, and wise, and maybe it can, but taking anything on wholesale is like paying $20.00 for a big box of assorted clothes from the yardsale of the old lady down the street. You might find a thing or two that you can use, but much of it won’t fit, won’t be in fashion, and will either be eaten through with moth holes or reek so so pungently of moth balls that you will wind up dumping it.
So rather than making the yardsale circuit this weekend, use the time to pull out your schedule and do some spring cleaning.
Diogenes of Sinope said, “We sell things of great value for things of very little, and vice versa.”
The thing with the greatest value is our time. Don’t spend it with people you don’t like on things you don’t enjoy, or on things that aren’t making you better.
Likewise, don’t bring new things into your closet or your schedule just because they look good on someone else.
Hard work works for those who are willing to work hard.
Read. The Comfort Crisis by Michael Easter
This has got to be my favorite book of the year. Buy it, read it, share it. Sign up for Michael’s weekly newsletter here
If, and only if you think it would help, try time-journaling to see where your ♬time keeps on slipping, slipping♬ away to. This isn’t something I would do for long, but a week spent logging where your time goes will give you a pretty good idea of where you can clean up your schedule. It’s also easy to add an up arrow⬆to indicate that the activity was enjoyable and ⬇ when it is not. Is scrolling mindlessly on your phone fun? Look for time you can recapture and schedule something useful, fun, or necessary.
Words of wisdom from those who said it best:
“It’s just as important to know when to drop something and shift direction as it is to know when to stick with something. When we quit the things that aren’t working for us, we free up our willpower and perseverance for the things that really do matter.” – Rich Karlgaard
“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” – Walter Bagehot
“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” – Steve Jobs
“Effort is one of those things that gives meaning to life. Effort means you care about something, that something is important to you and you are willing to work for it.” – Carol Dweck
Thanks for reading and sharing. See you next Thursday!
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That is an excellent book and a great post! Easter is a very thought provoking, back to the basics kind of thinker.
JD.... another fantastic and thought provoking post. I am embarrassed to report that I laughed out loud several times. Your post hit so many resonating frequencies for me. I have long enjoyed sailing on the weekends. Garage-saling. Looking for tools at a steal. Not worth the time if you do not count the fact that it got me out of bed early and was often quality time spent with like minded friends. I have also tried meditation, and I feel like a total fraud after 60 seconds. I am not throwing stones, just saying that I have also jumped on some bandwagons. Time is among the only non fungible assets, and your post covers this well. I bristle at the notion that moving on is as virtuous as sticking to something though, even though I know it is true, as you have aptly quoted. Maybe a future post on how to distinguish between which is the more moral decision, at the time? It is only after the fact that I realise I was only stubborn, or even worse.... lacked resolve. Will think about this a bit over the next week. Look forward to your next post!