Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Automation Nirvana: Routinizing our Lives for Maximum Spontaneity



We Are What We Repeatedly Do. -Aristotle

If the way you lived your life today was captured and recorded for review by complete strangers to get an impression about who you are, would the things you did be a reflection of how you want your life reflected to others?

If today was the last day of your life, and you only found out in the last hour of the day, would you have spent it the same way you did knowing it would be your last within the first hour of the day? 

Asking these questions is fundamental to understanding why routines are key to deliberately living our lives. I've seen people's faces grow sad or bored when the subject of "routine" comes up, almost as if I have recalled an unpleasant experience from childhood. Routines are wonderful things. Automating one's life can be the difference between spending money and making money. Truly. 

I want you, dear reader, to get excited about the idea of a routine, boring as though initial thought processes may sound. I usually get "pee pants" excited about the idea of setting a up a new routine because it means I have unlocked the automation process to one more nuanced level of my life. That is,  one more level of unraveling complete, allowing my mind to focus to focus on other ideas. 

This systemization of thoughts culminating in #AutomationNirvana or Streamlining follow 3 basic steps.
1. Observation of the moving bits of your life
2. Placing those bits into processes
3. Connecting those processes into a consistent schedule where they occur calendrically

Making Peace With The Moving Bits In Our Lives


Streamlining my life seems to come as a natural progression. I used to have a lot of stuff. Now I have some stuff that I need, use and love. My goal is to only have stuff that I need, use and love. Chalk it up to being obsessive about having 1 quality item versus 45 bad quality items. I am particularly fond of going through this journey because it allows me to find systems processes throughout my life. If we can agree on the basic concept of a business' strength determined by the ability of the owner to walk away from it and have the business continue chugging along with minimal interference, then we can also agree the systems processes we place in our lives determine the strength the life systems that hold us up in place. I suffer from this condition daily. I seek out constant refinement of process and have given the syndrome a name: Automation Nirvana. I have nothing but love for myself when I operate out of this space. 
In my mind's eye, there is nothing more gratifying than knowing, at a moment's notice, just how many:
1. White T-shirts I own
2. Where a particular book lives in my library (and being able to look up my inventory of books, identifying its genre and realising that's number 4 out of 7 Science Fiction books, in fact).
3. Being able to systemise my life, such that, I can set up a home planner, with the various processes outlined, hand it over to a house sitter, grab my keys, passport and handbag and head to the airport because MY LIFE IS IN ORDER AND ORDER IS IN MY LIFE. 


What is streamlining? 

According to Merriam-Webster:

streamline

 transitive verb
to make (something) simpler, more effective, or more productive 
So why am I obsessed with getting all the moving bits of my life to work more effectively, more simply? The answer for me is based out of my inability to cope with clutter. Oddly enough, I am the one creating most of the clutter in my life. But what is clutter exactly? A collection of things lying about in an untidy fashion (according to the dictionary). But, I want to go one step further. I've noticed people having massive collections of dolls or cars or (insert odd collectible here). What's the point of all this stuff? I collect planners. HOWEVER, all my planners have a purpose and are used. The moment a planner stares at me from across the room with no purpose, it becomes clutter. It goes from $80.00 to clutter in 2 seconds. The actual monetary value of things do not increase their inherent value for me. I have a planner that cost me $19.00. It is one of my most loved planners. (It's the Personal Buckingham Filofax in red, in case you planner geeks are wondering). 

There must be a point when we walk into our homes and reach a level of satisfaction with life such that we can make peace with the things in our lives. I have become acutely aware of the loveliness of less. The more I let go of, the more space I have to enjoy what I have. And so, it is not the accumulation of collections that make us happy, but the search for the happiness within the collectibles that has us convinced peace is hidden somewhere within the stuff. Haven't found *THE* planner yet? Keep looking. But in the name of everything holy, save yourself a lot of time, money and aggravation. Take the time to see what you actually want, write down a list of "wants" in that particular planner (or whatever you are looking to bring into your life). When the process of bringing new items into your life slows down and you begin to address the moving bits in your life as things that need love, attention, care, etc., only then will you ask yourself the question that determines where you are in the spectrum of stuff: "Am I willing to have THIS item be the only item grab and run if there were a fire blazing in my house?"

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