A Metaphorical Fridge Cleaning
recalibration, part I
It’s time to clean out our fridge. Metaphorically. Or, also, perhaps literally, as well. I mean, it never hurts.
Think of how you spend your time as though it were your fridge. Envision whichever model suits you best. I’m content to picture my grandmother’s old Frigidaire, home of exotic (to child me) cheeses and a freezer on the bottom that could always be counted on to carry a supply of Neapolitan ice cream. Your image can be of a dorm fridge, a giant SubZero, or a side-by-side with ice maker/water dispenser in the door. Whatever you picture, we’re cleaning the gunk out and making it shine.
Your fridge can hold only a fixed amount. Kind of like your day. When you try to cram too much crap in, it stops functioning at optimal levels. Your fridge and your life. At any given point, there’s something unidentifiable and/or past its prime festering away in there, taking up valuable real estate. There may be that package of grapes you thought would be a perfect healthy snack alternative to peanut M&M’s, but now you have some slimy raisins instead. I suppose the metaphorical version of this would be the habit that you cultivated in lockdown which no longer serves you, like checking the news on your phone as soon as you open your eyes or a pre-shower meander through tiktok to see what your favorite garlic farmer is up to.
Whether you’re conscious of it or not, you have a daily practice. This is composed of the things you do every day, it includes the mundane—but important— activities like brushing your teeth and getting dressed, commuting and checking email; the little things that bring you joy, like wordle, guitar, or gardening; how and when you eat and exercise; the ideals you hope to achieve like meditating or journaling; and the naughties that maybe wish you did a little less of, like scrolling, binge watching, or snacking.
These daily rituals are like the staples that are always in your fridge: butter, mustard, mayo, pickled onions, fizzy water, sourdough starter, a bottle of champagne, eggs and that bag of well-intentioned-but-never-taste-as-good-as-you-want-them-to baby carrots.
Since you’re here, in this conversation space about the art of cultivating your daily practice, this concept isn’t new to you. And probably neither is your routine, so let’s open the door, shed some light on the scene, then get ready to wipe up a few sticky messes and toss out the expired notions.
Unlike cleaning out your actual fridge, you’re unlikely to come upon any gag-inducing stinky surprises or moldering meat, however, you may find yourself confronted with the metaphorical version of a reused yogurt container that doesn’t contain the healthy treasure you think it does. Listen, even if you think your daily practice game is tight, you will still benefit from taking an inventory of your schedule. Best case scenario you can prove to yourself how great you are, worst case, you can see where you need to level up. Activities and practices tend to evolve and change. There’s much to be gained from taking inventory and assessing the results.
I’ve broken this down into a few steps. We’ll cover the first part now. It should take a full week. Paid subscribers will get a handy worksheet. Next week, I’ll slide into your inbox with your next steps.
Pre-game: Hypothesis and expectations.
Round one: Compile data about your favorite person: you
Round two: Extrapolate
Round three: Evaluate: what works? What doesn’t?
Round four: Create a new plan going forward.
Let’s break it down:
Pregame: Make two lists.
In the first list, write down what your ideal daily ritual looks like. Be a dreamer here, and envision an ideal flow within your day.
Second list: write down what you think your daily rituals, routines and practices look like IRL. How much time do you think you dedicate to each activity? What about the spaces between? Don’t reference any metrics, just make educated guesses. Be sure to include commutes and any standby times.
Round one: Gather Data
What the hell are you doing? For reals. Spend one week observing your day from the moment your alarm goes off until you fall asleep. Take notes. What do you do when your alarm goes off? Are you a snooze button junkie? Do you immediately scroll through Twitter? Do you snuggle dogs/cats/humans? Or do you pop up and slip your feet into running shoes? Do you spend 20 minutes trying to decide what to wear before setting up the coffee maker? Do you regularly go to bed thinking I’ll wake up early tomorrow and do this thing that I know is good for me, but never actually do it? How does your commute to work look? At what point in the day do you have the opportunity to collect your thoughts? How do your meals come about: do you find yourself hangry and starving before settling on the first food you can cram into your piehole? When does exercise happen?
What are the things that you do Every. Single. Day? Which ones do you plan and which ones just happen?
What do you do when you don’t know what to do (like waiting in line, for an appointment, or in the time between other activities)?
Over the course of a week, make note of all of your blocks of time and how they are filled.
Yup, it’s kind of a pain in the ass, but this is where you start to get a feel for accountability. You don’t need to be crazy precise, you can distill bits down into half hours or chunks of hours. Don’t skip over the weird in-between spaces--when you’ve zoned out scrolling or watching TV.
If you find something you do every day, or several times a day, even if only for one or two minutes, capture that. Even if you think something is silly, capture that.
(Paying subscribers will get some worksheet templates to help out with this in the mid-week newsletter)
Get yourself started with this, and I’ll see you in a week to go over next steps.
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