So far at The Minimal Minute, I have focused on writing single blog posts each about one different topic, often revolving around saving money by living simply. These posts, however, are often focused more on the content than on my own adaptations of the techniques. In this post, and moving forward, I will start to bring more of my own personality into the bloodstream of The Minimal Minute.
Today, I want to take you guys through a day in my life. The focus will be on minimalist habits and tips, but other things may surface as we go.
7:30am - Morning Routine
My iPhone alarm rings from the living room. I keep technology out of the bedroom to reserve the room as a place of relaxation and sleep. It's too easy to lay in bed for an hour at night or in the morning browsing Facebook or replying to feedback on the blog. I'll have plenty of time to do that during the day, no need to bring it into the bedroom. Keeping the phone/alarm in a different room also forces me to stand up and walk over to it when it goes off. This doesn't always keep me awake, but it at least gets my body moving so I only end up snoozing once or twice.
Once awake, I open all of the blinds to let as much light in as possible. Natural light is essential for feeling awake in the morning. It also saves from using electricity at all times. From here, I slowly march to the bathroom and get my morning routine on. Being a bit OCD, it takes me about a half hour to get fully ready. This includes:
- Potty time!
- Brush (with a Sonicare brush)
- Tongue scrape (highly recommend these guys!)
- Water floss (with a Waterpik)
- Q-tip ears
- Hand + face lotion
As you can see, oral hygiene has become a priority in the mornings. I went for a long time without regularly flossing and recently had to have gum surgery to graft tissue from the roof of my mouth onto the front of my lower teeth. It was very expensive and recovery has been draining (liquid foods for two weeks, a pint of blood loss one of the recovery days, four sick days from work).
If you're not a flosser, become one. Here's the trick I recently discovered: wrap one end of the floss around your middle finger, but in a diagonal pattern instead of just wrapping it right around your finger. This helps distribute the squeezing so you don't cut off circulation at all. With both middle fingers wrapped, use your pointer fingers and thumbs to navigate the position of the floss in your mouth while the middle fingers hold it taut. With this technique I am able to reach between all of my teeth successfully, even with my very tightly-spaced chompers.
Between all of these things, I make sure to put everything back where it belongs, including towels. Be it hand towels or bath towels, they all get the tri-fold. The best way of doing this is just holding the towel by one end so it hangs down, then folding one third over, then the other third over that. What you're left with is a perfectly-folded towel that dries well and looks even better. And yes, I do this after each time I wash my hands and use the hand towel.
From here, getting dressed is a pretty standard affair. I should mention though, that music from my iPhone connected to my Bose speakers is playing all morning. The genre varies depending on the day, but it's usually some sort of upbeat jazzy jams. Gramatik is always a solid choice.
When I'm pretty much ready, I'll cook up some breakfast (on a good day). The breakfast almost always consists of three organic eggs, pico de gallo salsa, and some veggies or beans. This trifecta of ingredients is both extremely healthy and delicious. Having a protein-rich breakfast also helps with weight loss, so keep popping those eggs back, Luke!
Once finished eating, I do a final sweep of the apartment, making sure that ovens are off, candles are blown out, TV and speakers are off, blinds are closed. This final check may not always be necessary, but having the peace of mind knowing that your place is good to go is worth a lot.
Luckily for me, it takes four minutes to walk from my front door to my workplace. Four minutes on foot! It's incredible. It literally saves me NINE weeks worth of business hours every year. Before, I would commute an average of one hour every day, even on weekends (because I would still come up to Capitol Hill or downtown most weekend days). One hour every day means 365 hours a year of commute time. If you're a commuter and spend maybe two hours every day in traffic, that comes out to four entire months of 40-hour business weeks wasted, just like that. If you take the bus and actually utilize that time, that's one thing, but wasting your time and literal gas money in traffic...not efficient. I would rather spend more to live in the city, closer to my office, than to live on the cheap outside of town and have to waste away in traffic every day.
9:30am - Work
At our office, there is no mandated arrival time, so we roll in anywhere from 9:00am to 10:00am. At my desk, I boot up my iMac (because I completely shut down every night to use less electricity and to let it rest) and usually check for updates. I'm a little OCD about program and operating system updates. I get excited when a new update drops, especially when it comes with additional features or bug fixes. This also includes checking firmware updates every month or two; could be for the Canon 5D Mark III, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, or anything in between. I don't know why, but reading changelogs always gets me a little excited.
Once things are primed and polished, I get into the thick of it. Work work work. Throughout the day, files get created, moved, copied, and deleted, but my desktop always stays pristine. Not a single file or folder will live on the desktop for more than a day. Keeping up with this habit encourages me to stay diligent on my file management and storage. If you want a deep look into my file storage structure, I wrote an in-depth article about just that.
If there is much chatter within the office, I find myself struggling to maintain focus. To alleviate this, I throw my headphones on and boot up Spotify. My go-to style is a mix of jazz, electronic, classical, popular, and a mix of all of those. If you're curious, you can check out my profile and follow my listenings and playlists here: Web player link | Spotify link. If the music isn't blocking enough of the noise, I pull up noisli.com to further add to the ambience while subtracting from the distraction.
Throughout the day, I will take special care to keep my physical desktop clean as well. Everything on it serves a purpose or is a task waiting to happen. Currently, there is an iMac, secondary monitor, speakers, office phone, keyboard, mouse pad, mouse, lamp, pencil cup, glass of water, and a coffee. Just the essentials. No stacks of paper. No random paper clips or memory cards. Everything is in its place. Another day I'll write about the contents (and beautiful organization) of my desk drawers. Because it's really nice. I could tell you exactly what is in each drawer and where in each drawer each item lies.
But why put so much effort into something so objectively useless? Well let me tell you! First, having acute awareness of all your possessions prevents you from losing anything, ever. If something isn't where it belongs, an act of God has taken it away. Maybe it fell out of your pocket or got stuck in a couch cushion. But you will never have to dig through boxes and boxes of junk looking for it. Because you don't own boxes and boxes of junk. You are more than welcome to use organized plastic tubs for long-term storage of things you don't use frequently, but they should still be things you use. A waffle iron may be a really good investment at some point in your life, but are you really going to be making waffles on the regular? Probably not. You really shouldn't anyway. Waffles aren't healthy. There's a reason that no diets are like, "Eat more waffles!"
Second, being aware of all your things forces you to semi-frequently parse through all your belongings, filtering out junk and clutter. This is doubly effective because it reminds you of what you own and it forces you to sell/trash/donate/burn what you don't need. I try to do this every couple months because I always make a pile of things I don't need that too often end up back in a drawer instead of on Craigslist.
Third, having clean surfaces reduces the amount of visual (and mental!) distraction. If I look around right now, nothing is out of place. Nothing out of the ordinary. This therefore triggers no mental responses other than on the current task at hand. This allows me to keep focus for longer. At home, this also reigns true. And, practically, cleaning an apartment is SO much easier when there aren't objects everywhere. I can vacuum without having to put anything away. I can clean the countertops without having to rearrange a bunch of junk. Everything just stays cleaner.
To Be Continued
Now that we're through half the day, I'll stop here and pick up the latter half of the day tomorrow. We'll talk about what I do for lunch and dinner. How I keep entertained. Or, more accurately, what projects and skills I pursue to enrich my brain and portfolio. Maybe I'll even talk about juggling! Or card tricks!
Or maybe I just need to join the circus already.