Project 14 – Day 9: My Habits

Day Nine is about all the things I normally do – or rather, the things I don’t normally do.

So when I sat down to write this post,  it didn’t take me very long to realize that…. I don’t have any habits or daily structure.

The only concrete parts of my schedule that stay the same from day to day are the bits that depend on other people – I’m out the door by 6:45 am because that’s when my ride has to leave. I eat dinner at 7:30 because that’s when every one else eats. But besides that? I don’t really have daily habits, things I do every day at a set time. Sure, I brush my teeth and wash my face morning and evening, but that’s not even at a set time, and more often than not a bare minimum for general cleanliness.

Thinking back, it seems kind of ridiculous. How does someone like me, someone who plans and tries to squeeze every minute out of her day, not have habits? I think in tree structures and cause and effect! My favourite site is Lifehacker, because it provides all these awesome life hacks ad efficiency boosting tips. Yet I don’t have any daily structure.

But then I started to think more in depth about my day, and realize that I do, in a looser way. I try to keep certain priorities in the front of my mind, like that big project at work, or my latest creative project, and then I divide my day into three different types of chunks: working chunks, creativity/relaxation chunks, and mundane, dammit-I-need-to-get-this done chunks. So in the morning it’s mostly mundane stuff, but on my commute I make a point of doing something creative or thought provoking. I’ll work through the day, and come home to enjoy a nice long chunk of time to be creative; right now, it means working on my beading while I listen to an audiobook, but could be knitting, writing, or organizing my 6500+ ebook collection. While this is generally a good framework approach, it does have its problems. I find sometimes that I neglect to carve out a chunk of time to get some necessary work done.

Other than that, I don’t really have much by way of daily habits. I’d like to, though. Making good actions a habit saves your willpower for the more important decisions in life. The problem for me has been a varied and unsettled schedule that changes every four months, but I think that’s just an excuse (hah! whack-a-demon!). I think there are some that I want to develop that are flexible enough that I should get on that.

I’d like to adopt a skincare routine, and learn how to put on makeup, and hit the gym. I’d like to carve out a solid 30 minutes each day for important stuff, like whatever I put on my urgent list. I’d like to carve out another five minutes for meditation and 20 for yoga at night. I’d like to get better at journalling. I feel like my daily schedule is an empty shopping basket, browsing aisle and aisles of habits to pick and choose which ones I really want. Of course, when I decide on which habits I want, I’ll have to develop them, which in itself is a long and grueling progress. Maybe if online shopping was so tedious, people would end up buying less.

I have other habits that aren’t quite daily habits, some of which I like and some of which I don’t like. Unlike daily habits which generally happen in the pattern of some day, these ones have different triggers, or none at all.

I’m the type of person who takes notes on everything. Every time I finish a book, when I watch something that interests me, when I find something inspiring or a new word, when I have an especially strong personal opinion, I write it down. I’m also messy; my little sister makes me buy her new notebooks because practically every binder, every piece of paper in our house has some kind of note scrawled in it, the shadow of some bygone light bulb, and we find those pieces everywhere. Thanks to cloud apps like simplenote, I’ve recently been able to keep all those notes, lists, ideas, and thoughts in some coherent archive, and thus I have everything I’ve thought for the past little while at my finger tips. It’s a little disconcerting, actually, but also really cool. All these little snowflake ideas that pop into my mind actually sometimes snowball into something really neat.

Another habit of mine is to put my hair up when I get super serious about something, or I need to concentrate. This is kind of a hold over from my days playing competitive trivia, as whenever I really had to concentrate, I strip down to my tank top, take off my jewellery, and tie my hair back. The idea is that I’d minimize my distractions and not hinder my reaction time – whether this actually worked is debatable, but it’s a psychological cue that tells my brain to kick into high gear. I don’t take off my jewellery and jackets any more though, especially not in the work place.

One thing I don’t do that I really should is that I’m really bad at keeping in touch with people. My mom will call me and complain that I haven’t called for two weeks, and I won’t be able to remember the last time I called. I’m spotty at messaging or keeping in contact with even my nearest and dearest friends (I’m sorry guys! I don’t love you any less, I promise, and thank you for putting up with me).  I’m terribly selfish, in that I get totally wrapped up with what my immediate priorities are, but forget that my friends and family are amongst my long-term priorities, and that’s something I will change.

So, this entry has been considerably lighter than my previous few, and I think that’s okay. Yet at the same time, I don’t think it was any less important, because our habits form something like 80% of our actions, so by extension, don’t they form 80% of who we are?

Project 14 is how I’m going to start my journey of self discovery, to memorialize  who I am when I start chronicling my life. Each day, I’ll approach who I am through a different paradigm people use to define themselves. Read more about it at my About page.

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