Day Rituals

Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2022 by Sri.Tagged SQUIRK

I do not really like "morning rituals" as this tends to interfere with the times of day that I'm most productive. This is a luxury; I work remote as a freelancer and have not had to report in to a regular office for decades. What matters is that I deliver what I said I would by the day it's needed.

That said, I think it might be important to have a startup ritual that I run whenever I get out of bed. My "day" is an abstract period of time lasting between 24 and 30 hours, so the actual waking/sleeping periods are fairly variable, so having a "morning" routine just didn't work for me. I just felt bad all the time for not making the morning time.

For variable day keepers like myself, thinking of the day just as a block of continuous hours that starts with maximum energy stores and ends whenever they are depleted. I have a new ADHD health practitioner, Lisa, who mentioned the idea of bookends for the day because many of her patients benefit from it. What isn't known is whether my variable schedule actually is a problem, as it does not generally impact my work or home life as it might for someone who has a regular job or has to be synchronized with other people in their lives. I like the idea of bookends, so I'm going to define them like this:

I will refer to energy a lot. I am equating this with the amount of executive function willpower I have, which I've heard described as a resource based on glucose in the brain. It may also be due to having adequate dopamine levels.

Bookend: Start of Waking Period

GOAL: Get out of bed as quickly as possible, thinking as little as possible, boosting the body metabolism, so I can apply the fresh energy I have!

On waking:

  • Avoid thinking or planning! Move immediately to shower! The lizard brain is still in charge and is just going to argue with you, wasting time in a useless committee meeting in your head.

  • Shower! As the water and sound tickles the neurons, the brain starts to shift into Executive Sri mode, thinking of things to do that would advance my fortunes! Physically, it's also important to feel clean (because otherwise I feel too icky to think) and pick something to wear that makes me feel good.

  • Eat! A maximum of 80 calories of carbohydrates (e.g. a cookie, a few bites of fruit, a bit of cheese) to help kickstart the brain with some blood glucose! This can be supplemented with a larger amount of protein in the form of eggs, meat, greek yogurt if I am not intermittent fasting.

  • Take Vitamins and Drink water! To ensure hydration, I drink a 32oz or so bottle of chilled tap water, sometimes with a flavor packet. Fat-soluble vitamins K and D if I ate, water-soluble Vitamin B otherwise. Omega 3. Biotin.

  • Walk! A short walk to the mailbox (about 10 minutes) or taking out the trash (about 7 minutes) is enough to get the blood flowing.

  • Powerup! I'm done with the ritual, so turn on the computer and get settled in.

  • Force myself to read notes! There is usually something I have to read to remember what I'm doing. As I'm doing this, I might also Make Coffee and use that ritual as a background process.

At this point, I hopefully am at the peak for starting something.

During the Day: Maintaining and Monitoring Energy

GOAL: Loosely structure tasks such that they align with the quality of energy I have.

I seem to work best in chunks of about 15 minutes where starting something difficult that I am avoiding, giving myself permission to do something else if after 15 minutes it's not lighting my brain on fire.

Alternatively, posing a question to myself that seems immediately answerable (or is at least intriguing in some way) is another way to kickstart the doing.

Making coffee is another way to use a ritual (preparing a cup of pourover coffee) as the background process while thinking through a question or task.

Taking breaks to do chores like loading/unloading the dishwasher, doing a small decluttering, or checking on the deck plants also helps break up the day.

Bookend: Prep for Sleeping Period

WIP...don't really have one yet.