Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Ideal Day?

I think I stumble upon a good way to reframe things -- building upon yesterday's post -- that will help me better think out what I need to be doing from day to day in order to maximize my drive towards progressing on my goals. Steve Jobs has been quoted as stating that it's evident that you're discontent in your pursuits if you wake up with the feeling that you don't like how your spending your days, so I thought to myself, "In order to obtain my life's goals, what is it that I need to be doing day to day in order to keep making progress?"

It's overwhelming to try and plan all the pursuits from a bird's eye perspective weeks or months in advance, so I think shortening my thinking to a 24 hour frame will give me the best perspective on what I need to do on a daily basis to make step-by-step to my highest goals and ultimate happiness. Sure, I will certainly have to vary it up given appointments, work, and whatnot, but a rough sketch would certainly be beneficial.

Okay, given my limited finances, I'll worry about extensive cooking and experimentation practices a little bit later, so what do I want an ideal, progress-driven day to compose of? Cognitive exercise and challenges, intellectual productivity, treating every minute as precious to life, and balancing self-improvement efforts all throughout. What does that mean? Everyday, doing beneficial reading, formal studying (notes and all), writing, directed thinking and mental processes, cutting out wasteful activities, hustling in all endeavors, waking up early, and remaining perpetually aware of goals.

A bit of a jumble, so let's rough it out to parts of day:

* Morning: I'd like to wake up as early as naturally possible (i.e. without an alarm) and get out of bed immediately, excited to meet life. I remember once that my sleeping habits were so good that I used to get great sleep night after night and wake up positively excited to get out of bed. Nowadays I wake up far too tired, and because my body's trying to make me wake up, the conflicting signals I get from the tiredness make me lay in bed yearning to sleep more, only my body won't allow me to.

In order to accomplish this I simply need to modify my dietary and lighting habits. Shut off electronics after a certain period and use candles or orange glasses (to cut out blue light), and don't eat a few hours before sleeping. I think most of the problem is physiological. Many great men may have lived sleep-deprived lives, but I don't think it's necessary. Rational habits can make sleep an extremely and beneficial practice, if one just takes the right means.

* First hours: Focus. Produce something in writing. As stated before, I view my mental activities in an input/output fashion. The morning time, due to my rest, is where I'm most likely to want to create something -- engage in some "output" -- whereas the later part of the days is where I more likely want to "take in" something, like reading. If I perfect my sleeping habits then I'll probably wake up reeling with a deluge of thoughts, as my brain usually motors like that when it's at full power. Best time to write.

I actually want to engage in both handwriting and typing, to do a bit of extensive writing and to maintain the balance of my skill in relaying my thoughts on the computer vs. on a page. Regardless of overall writing, I've noticed that my skill in one venue will soften considerably if I abstain from one medium or the other for too long. Handwriting something out is definitely a different experience from typing it out.

In any order -- though hopefully lined up next to each other -- I want to strive to write at least one full page of text in my introspection journal to muse on my life and focus myself, and to produce one article per day here. Oh I know my habits here are god-forsaken awful, but I'm very intent on setting up a good routine since writing is an irreplaceable intellectual benefit. It's great exercise for the mind to lay your thoughts out in a strictly coherent form. But I keep getting caught up in contradictions such as "A blog is a waste of time!" or "I don't have a theme and therefore can't maintain an audience!" which I've already refuted to myself. By gosh follow your self-corrections and blog. I used to do it with extreme regularity before, and I can do it again! Absolutely!

* Late morning/start of afternoon: Eat or fast, and begin tackling to-do lists. Or hunker down and begin studying something.

I may have dropped out of college, but I still want an education . . . a life-long, self-directed regiment of it in fact. Like a school-goer, I want to get down deep into something educational, taking notes and all, to very consciously mold my intelligence. Truly deep learning and understanding requires very intense effort, more than I've been expending lately. There WAS a point in my life a few years ago, as a fresh college drop-out, where I did absorb myself for hours in textbooks and the like, filling up pages and setting up homework assignments all for my personal benefit. With my working shifts I may not be able to do it as much, but that's no excuse for not doing it at all.There should be time enough. If I want to maximize my cognitive abilities this is a must.

I've been making the sorry mistake of "waiting" for a regiment of study to just happen, as if I'll someday just dig into something and spontaneously take notes about it. No, it's not "just" going to happen. I have to consciously plan it out, and consciously direct myself. I'm not sure where to really start, but I think taking notes on this list would be an excellent start. Homework from chef.

* Any mentally unengaged portions of the day, such as walking somewhere or driving: Rubberducking and Mental Missions. I want my days to be as directed as possible, eliminating all specks of idle daydreaming and bullcrap. No, I don't intend to totally stamp out daydreaming, as I know that's impossible. It can be a legitimately beneficial practice as a method of rest from intense concentration or thinking, even necessary. But I do it too much: I want to reduce it to the minimum amount possible, and spend the rest of the time always trying to progress forward intellectually.

And of course, rubberducking and Mental Missions aren't the exclusive activities to do during these disengaged periods. I could also interject some other self-improvement activities, such as practicing singing or whistling in the car, engaging in memory or mathematical exercises at work, or whatever. I just want to make progress on something the majority of my waking hours, even if I'm simply walking from point A to point B.

* Later portions of the day: If I work, then it's time to take to the self-improvement goals I've set for myself there, or to make sure my Mental Missions are all set. If my shift was already completed in the morning or if I have the day off, then it's more reading, studying, self-improvement, or even writing.

* Nighttime: Shut of the computer at, say, 10 PM, stop looking at the time, and spend the rest of the night reading in bed. Ideally, it will be done by candle light to help protect me from blue light (and disrupting my sleep hormones), but if I don't have them then I'll use my lamp and resort to my orange safety glasses, which should still filter enough light out. I enjoy isolating myself like that at night . . . cutting off the news keeps me from getting upset at bad news or negative people commentating on it, and allows me to focus on a world of values before slumbering.

I also want to begin taking more ice baths again. I view them as very good for my health and really enjoy the way they make me feel. They might be very exhilarating during the experience, but coming out of it, warming up, and going into the afterstate is very, very soothing and relaxing. I'd take a cold shower, but the Texas heat warms the plumbing up far too much. I have ice balloons freezing as I write this.

* * * * *

A lot of specifics need to be filled in I know, and there's plenty of room to bring in other things such as taking time to learn to appreciate music or practice a new skill (such as, oh say, cooking), but I think this is a very good rough-draft that I can at least begin acting on now.

The rest of my life begins today, and today is a new chance, a small bundle of hours, to take yet another step to fully realize all that I can be in my life.

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