Tuesday, November 10, 2015

On Routines...

{ One alarm is all you need }
I started working within a week of moving to Paris and juggling grad school together with it has been an interesting challenge, although one I'm not entirely unfamiliar with. As a 16 year old, I had an internship in the biggest paper (at the time) in Miami, and my summers were spent riding the bus at 6am to get to downtown Miami and coming back home in the afternoon. Since then, I've kept a combination of retail jobs, more serious jobs, a couple internships (one of which kept me in the office until 8pm), an internship and a job, and all while studying.

I think this obsession with keeping busy and feeling like I'm never doing enough with my time is a cultural thing, the same reason why Americans have very little vacations, the seven little dwarfs sing about their excitement to go to work, and everyone is in love with that Beyoncé mug

By the way, while Beyoncé may function within the same 24 hour clock as everyone else, I can assure you she doesn't spend a second washing her delicates by hand in the bathroom sink, cooking her own meals, cleaning the mirrors in her house with her own DIY eco-friendly solution, and schlepping the recycling bin across her garden into the street, among other time-consuming tasks (such as being on hold with the cable company).

If you ask any busy person, they'll tell you their secret is getting very little sleep. In an attempt to find a loophole to this, I've always been very curious about how successful women manage their time, but then I remember the Beyoncé paradox. 

However, I'm a big fan of routines, I find that my brain works better with order (although I secretly admire people that don't need to-do lists to function). Because I'm also easily distracted, I start my morning every day with military precision:

I wake up at 6:15 every day. 

I was shocked to learn that I had no control over my schedule in school. In the U.S you not only choose the courses that interest you, but you also have a choice in managing your time. Mine is a bit all over the place, with my earliest class at 8am one day of the week, my whole schedule functions around this day (told you, orderly brain). 

In the morning I respond to messages I got overnight and make the bed immediately. I drink a full glass of water while I open my curtains and windows. I no longer have a fancy espresso machine, so I put water to boil for 5 minutes which gives me enough time to wash my face with cold water and then shower (I don't like water being splashed in my face). I brew my coffee using a french press (in itself a meticulous ritual) while brushing my teeth. 

This is where my routine reaches a dangerous point. The slightest distraction can throw the entire timing off and I find myself with my hair still in a towel three Seinfeld episodes later. For this reason, I avoid all visual distractions and stick to listening to podcasts which will keep me within a time frame, my favorites are BBC's Newshour, Slate's The Gist, This American Life, NPR's Fresh Air, The New Yorker Radio Hour, or The Bon Appétit Foodcast. 

The makeup I use every day is organized in a separate pouch which speeds up the process, so I can put it on, blow dry my hair, and get dressed rather quickly. 

For breakfast, I try to stick to eating the same thing, either cereal and fruit or toast, and I leave the fancy breakfasts for the weekends. Shoving food towards your face is never a good idea, which is why I rather take my time and don't leave it for the end (on-the-go is a rather foreign concept in France and juggling a mug, a laptop case, and a handbag on public transportation is not a fun ordeal). 

I pack a lunch that will be spill-proof, put on my shoes, and head out the door. 

{ Favorite shoes + keys }

On days where I stay home and work, the routine is the same, but I am prone to giving into a lot more distractions and snacking.

In the evening everything slows down a bit. I don't have to get everything done within a strict time frame so I only do a couple things: I cook dinner, workout, talk to my family if I haven't during the day, and put on the news.

Before bed I take off my makeup using coconut oil (seriously, don't go to bed before doing this), brush my teeth, moisturize, make sure I have filtered water for the next day, and I put away any plates left from dinner time. I also go through my to-do list and check off the tasks for that day. If I did things right, I'm not writing emails until midnight and can read (preferably something other than Habermas).

On weekends I find that the more productive you are during the week, the less things you bring into your weekend. I mostly get a few chores done, play a bit of catch-up, organize my week, and see friends. Although I don't really sleep in, I also don't time my showers with the microwave.