Modular Lifestyle Design

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?"

Deliberate Living- Designing Your Own Life (and why it matters)




Deliberately Showing Up.

Life is for the living and in life, if you are not living, you are dying. I am absolutely dedicated to creating a life worth living for myself. A life which allows me the luxury of time and space to do with as I please and to work when I want to, on projects I care about, spending my time with people whose company I enjoy. A life where money flows with ease and relationships are treasures. I am creating a life where I design my purpose with God's blessing, to honor everyone that came before me and didn't make it as far and to remind those that come after me, to take the slow road, to check the map, laminate it, hole punch it and place it in their planner, because maps are useful creatures and SatNavs often lose connection with satellites.


I am writing these notes as a guide to those who seek the same things in life. This blog is dedicated to all those who understand this writer's simple desire to travel the world at a moment's notice and have a life so streamlined and effectual, that she could, with a phone call from the first class airplane seat, notify the current house-sitters that "the packet in the third drawer on the left side in the office desk will be picked up by the accountant on Thursday" and could then easily pull her eye mask down, plug in some ambient music and relax, knowing that every thing has been taken care of to the fullest degree of self actualization. This blog is about deliberately being the best you and tracking those experiences by:
  1. Identifying the various important portions of your life, 
  2. Turning them into palatable projects (modules)
  3. And understanding how to manage those modules through small but permanent lifestyle changes, resulting in a self-actualized and deliberately designed life. 


So Why Does Designing A Deliberate Life Matter?

Without an objective view into our own lives, we are bound to live it based on the needs and pulls of others, rarely to our own benefit. Even at our best, during a given day, the internal monologue machine leans on being highly critical instead of highly inspirational. Inspiration is sought out on occasion, filling a well that often satiates others but leaves us very little for our own inspirational thirst. All the retreats and holidays in the world can't make up for an unfulfilled life and when it comes to living, fulfillment is the first need that is set aside for more practical gains, like salary or vacation time. 


Which reminds me of a story: A business executive find himself working 50-70 hours a week. He gives up time with his family, time for himself and his well-being to ensure the company moves forward with its mission. In fact, the company offers him 3 weeks paid vacation at the end of his 10th year instead of the regular 2 weeks. Overjoyed, he takes his family to an all expenses paid, island getaway. On his last morning there, the business executive decides to talk a walk out onto the rocky cliffs, overlooking the pristine water. He notices a local selling fruit juice, made from the fruits collected under the very tree that was providing him shade, the local had a makeshift sign that read: Fifty cents a cup.

The business executive chuckled to himself, walked over to the native and said "Why don't you charge more money for your juice? You could make more money per cup."
The native responded "Why do I need more money?"
The business executive retorted "So you can pay someone to stand here and sell fruit juice while you take your family on vacation. It has taken me 10 years to get to a point where I have sold enough product so I can have the money I need to bring my family here. Don't you want that for yourself?"
The native blinked once and said "I have that already. We just wake up here in the morning."


To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease and lightness. 

-Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now


The Way We Live


We are perpetually thrust into conforming around the world's schedule, those of us caught living in the Occident. We imbue our lives with to-do lists, pilates schedules, work routines, hydrating events (yes, I heard it referred to as an "event") and various time mismanagement set-ups that focus on simplifying overcomplicated lives by overspending money we overwork to produce in order to pay the bills that allow us to complicate our lives ad nauseum.


While the process of simplification, a noble process at that, is seemingly an aggregate of our conscious minds' ongoing to-do list of things to...do before we die, we discover that no one ever writes: "Pilates 3:00-4:00, hopefully I'm still alive then." We assume, in linear fashion, time will speed up or slow down proportionally based on the scale of exciting to boring events we've either planned to go through willingly or exposed ourselves to, in order to get one step closer to death. Really.

So if this is a zero sum game, this life, why bother planning at all? Is it, hurry up and get x-much done before we buy the farm? Or is it, hurry up and get the boring bits done so we can sit and relax before we buy the farm? Or is it, hurry up and get it done because we are buying the farm and want the kids to have the keys before we go? Either way, the farm is getting bought! Assuming we are channeling our inner Aristotle and we want to examine our lives to make them worth living, are we then in fact, examining or lives through planning or merely beating the battle rhythm of what life presents us by writing down the unfortunate events that will eventually lead to our demise?

What if we decided to extrapolate the concept of planning into modular blocks of life, which, upon desired arrangement, offer a blueprint of how to live vis a vis how we are living? What if we made our life's purpose creating a systematic approach to arranging the chunks of limited life into a rearrangeable order such that we left behind legacies of how to best live life a-la ( insert your last name here)?

So, how is this blueprint to be captured? Do we use paper systems that can get lost, stolen or damaged to capture our information or rely on digital systems that can be lost, stolen or damaged? Part two of this series will discuss Analogue vs Digital formats. For now, let's err on the side of using analogue systems. That is, systems that do not have an on/off switch-Paper Planners. Any brand will do! Some brands to consider are Filofax Personal Organizers, Day Timer, Franklin Covey, Gillio, Midori Traveler's Notebooks and Moleskine Notebooks. The whole point is to find a system that can be streamlines, duplicated and integrated.

My suggestion is to set up a planner and deliberately begin designing your life.

Where Do I Start? Start Where You Are.

There certainly must be areas of your life that are working, areas where things are flowing as you would want them to be. These are the modules of your life that may need tweaking every so often but you've figured them out. Perhaps you just want to track these areas. Creating an entire planner for finances, when everything is flowing right, might be a bit much. However, tracking finances as a tab within a planner would be a logical conclusion.

Why not begin with an area of your life where you have a complaint? An area that has a pattern of showing up in ways that are not pleasing to you. Pick that one. That's a good one. Yes, the one you just thought of and said to yourself "Why would I ever want to bring THAT skeleton out of its closet?" That's the very one we are talking about. Let's shine some light on the bugger. It's not like anyone else is going to see him.

In case you haven't picked up on life's many secrets yet, here's Life Lesson No. 1: Life will continue to teach you the same lesson until you get it. So, if you are experiencing a repetition of problems or patterns in your life you would like to stop, consider this to be a "module" for you to work on. Create a tab, label it with whatever you want to call it, e.g., "Healthy Eating" and start focusing your attention on everything that rings true to your senses. If it "feels" good to think about a subject, continue to focus upon it. If it doesn't, don't.




Where are all your important phone numbers listed in case your phone is ever stolen?