A New Plan


This all started with me buying a new trash can — an expensive trash can — to replace one that was broken by design and had just been endured its entire life. It seemed stupid to spend $50 on some plastic container that holds trash, but I made myself think about the design and craftsmanship. I was supporting trashcan artisans. Really, I was supporting myself. The wide mouth and foot pedal made it easy to throw things away; the semi-circle design meant it could be pushed nearly flush up against a wall; and, most importantly, removing the bag, no matter how full, was a snap and didn’t resolve in a torn bag. All of that while satiating my cheaper self by refusing to buy the proprietary bags. The daily frustration of that crappy trash can is over.

After that, I decided to change jobs. I’d long been unhappy and frustrated at work and had effectively given up trying to improve the place (or, for that matter, work hard at all). I found another job in town that showed promise, applied, and accepted an offer for mildly less than I was currently making — which everyone will tell you is a bad idea. The first few months at my new job taught me more than the previous 2 years at my last job and my job satisfaction has improved dramatically. The company shares my values about work and the world we work in (software craftsmanship). They share my values about management (treat people like people/professionals; spend time developing your people; cooperative). All of that and I’m challenged, I’m learning, and I’m not likely going to have to work ridiculous hours (and, if I do, I get paid overtime).

Because of the success of the trashcan and my new job, and because of some things that I’ve been learning at said new job, I developed a small “life” binder out of some college supplies I never used and had hoarded. (Sadly, one of the things that irks me is that I now have something I’ve named a “life binder” because that’s incredibly lame.) It’s a 1/2 inch, 3-ring binder with 5 tabs and some lined paper in it. Currently, the tabs are broken down by area “Outdoor Home”, “Indoor Home”, “Programming”, “Maintenance”, “Lifestyle”, obviously all subject to change. For the most part, these are unsurprisingly empty because I’m not particularly great at organizing things in binders yet and I’ve just started. The Lifestyle section, however, has two kinds of things in it.

The first is a list of things that presently bother me on a day-to-day basis. On the whole, these have been unfinished/unstarted projects that just occupy brain space/cycles. There are other things here too, like “No good place for recycled cans to be put before they are bagged.” (simplehuman, I’ll be looking your way for a solution when that becomes a priority.) The second, is really a series of pages designing a solution in detail. If something doesn’t work, it goes back into the binder with an explanation as to why and then potential solutions can be worked on to further develop the idea.

I’m blogging about this now because today is day 1 of project “Early Riser”. The idea is that I get up early every morning and spend the best part of the day (with no interruptions, no distractions, and no mental exhaustion) doing my own personal things. This gives me time to exercise, program, write, or play games. I can do nearly anything I want so long as it ends early enough for me to get to work by 8 (which is a 10 minute drive). It also forces me to follow basic time management principles and schedule my day, gets me to work on time more consistently, makes me get restful sleep at night, and gives me the potential to have a feeling of accomplishment to start the day. I created a basic M-F schedule alongside a weekend schedule, both of which are tailored towards the things I want to be able to do the most in a day and removing the things that have become a constant nuisance (like the fact that we don’t tend to put up most of the laundry). This schedule also included things I’m not allowed to do, like project work, gaming, or really any internet stuff after 9 pm. Those things are black holes that can keep me up until 4 am or later and most of that time will not be put to any real use. Here’s a basic schedule for M-F:

05:00 am: *Wake up & exercise
05:30 am: Activity (anything not noisy)
06:30 am: Shower, shave, get ready for work
07:15 am: Breakfast
07:45 am: Go to work
05:00 pm: Go home
(evening routine with Charlie)
08:30 pm: Put Charlie to sleep
08:30 pm: Clean something
09:00 pm: *Sleep, light activity (no gaming), or sex
10:00 pm: *Sleep
*Sleep is regained by going to bed earlier, not sleeping later

This may seem regimented, particularly regarding something like sex, but I think it will work out a bit better to have a tight schedule I can deviate from and know what I’m impacting rather than a loose schedule. Today, I woke up at 5 am and decided to forgo the exercise and blog instead. The same could be said about sex. It’s important for me to realize that if I don’t use the time I’ve allocated, it’s gone. If, however, sex moves to 5 pm one day, no big deal. It just means something else likely moved.