30 Personal Systems

Random Observation/Comment #788: Program your own sub routines. I am a robot with feeling.

Sometimes Shitake happens

Why this List?

Systems make life so much easier and form longer term habits. If you have a good system or routine, you’ll approach problems easier and live without this constant anxiety of needing to meet deadlines for goals. The systems I’ve created make me like a goldfish – the worries wash away because I trust the systems will pull me through.

If you’re looking for logic in ordering, I just followed my regular day. I revisit my systems frequently to optimize them. Sometimes I feel like a robot that initializes sub-routines and minimizes the number of decisions per day.

  1. Destressing before bedtime – The main rule is to put the phone on a charger that’s annoyingly far away from the bed. Get rid of that blue light at least 30 minutes before sleeping. After that, I like to do different pen and paper puzzles or draw in my journal.
  2. Falling asleep – I can fall asleep very quickly after taking 3 long deep breaths and readjusting my posture for the ideal sleeping position. I don’t count sheep, but I do like visualizing a walkthrough of different rooms in houses.
  3. Loading and unloading the dishwasher – I probably don’t load my dishwasher the same way as you do (and my way is definitely wrong). It’s just the way I do it now. I also unload in a very illogical, but batched order.
  4. Drinking enough water in the day – I’ve found the easiest way to create the habit of drinking more water is making it readily accessible while I’m working. I use these large insulating cups that I fill with ice and reuse throughout the day for refills from a larger 2L bottle.
  5. Prepping Evie’s lunch for the day – We’ve written on her whiteboard a set of choices for Base (e.g. noodles, rice, pasta, cous cous), Protein (e.g. meatballs, chicken, tofu), and Snacks (e.g. Strawberries, Apples, Gummies, Pretzels). In the morning. I can make a quick lunch off of my Sunday meal prep within 15 minutes.
  6. Meal prep for the week on Sundays – Similar to Evie’s prep, I like to make reusable bases and marinate/prepping proteins while pacing out what leftovers might be available. I started carb cycling, so I have 2 days of no carbs and one cheat day. This gives me 4 or 5 days a week of extra protein and veges, so I’ll definitely plan accordingly.
  7. Butchering a full chicken and making chicken broth – I prefer buying full organic chickens and splitting the meat into 2 meals and a soup/broth out of the carcass. Chicken butchering is extremely satisfying and it’s great to roast the bones before making around 2 quarts of stock.
  8. Shopping at a Trader Joes – There is definitely a system to this madness. I probably buy the same 30 or 40 things when I see them + try 1 or 2 different ones. Start with veges, get some pre-made salsa verde burritos, 2 proteins, some cheese, lots of fruits and veges, frozen saag paneer for lazy lunch, and almond milk. I’m a sucker for a well laid out supermarket.
  9. Meditation – I can’t achieve ascension just yet. It’s more of just quiet time to do nothing and focus on being present. Highly recommended to re-center. If you can’t meditate, try stretching instead.
  10. Making sure things go back where they come from – Don’t ask me how I know where everything is. I do. It’s this weird version of object-permanence and my biggest pet peeve is someone moving something from where I last put it. This might come from me worried about losing things. I tend to designate locations for each item as their homes and if I’m not actively using them, then they’re probably at their home. If they’re not at home then where are they?!? Panic.
  11. Completing small discrete tasks – Let’s say I need to pour Evie some milk. I would open the cabinet door to get the cup, open the fridge door, take out the milk, pour the milk into the cup, put the milk back into the fridge, close the fridge door, and last close the cabinet door. Note the fridge door and cabinet door stays open while I’m doing the whole task. Why? The open fridge door would remind me to put the milk away. I don’t know why I do this, but I do know the result is that everything is always cleaned up in my small routine. Maybe it’s a FILO thing. What happens if you’re the type of person annoyed by opened fridge doors and cabinets? We can’t live together.
  12. Scrolling through news and digital content – There’s unfortunately so many places I like to ingest content. I did a full review of my digital consumption here: https://seelemons.com/2021/02/08/my-curated-digital-bubble/
  13. Keeping track of my second brain of random thoughts so I can forget them right away – I use my Keep note for everything. It’s easy and effective. I used to put everything in my Google calendar so I’d see time slots when I had thoughts, but it started to make my whole calendar look like a mad man. It was also harder to search and revisit the same set of notes. I’m happy with my current system.
  14. Keeping track of my “triumph moments” – If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with breadcrumbs of happiness throughout my digital spaces. If something good happens, I’ll write it in a happiness jar or draw it in my journal or write it in a long standing keep note or post it on Instagram or all of the above. It’s a way for me to diversify and reflect so it cements in my brain.
  15. Making sure I have a fun year of activities – I love booking trips, concerts, hangout, neighborhood activities, and other fun things in the beginning of the year so every month I can say I did something badass. It’s a great habit of planning ahead because now I always have something to look forward to in the future. If I don’t, I just plan something.
  16. Cooking new dishes – Cooking is a meditative past-time for me. Just let me get lost in executing a process I’ve learned through research and YouTube videos. It’s like taking a test with the grade being the taste and satisfaction of my eaters. This is probably why I get so devastated when Evie doesn’t eat what I cook or if someone waits too long and the food changes temperature. Don’t wait for me. Have a bite. Tell me.
  17. Cooking for big meals that require lots of prep like Thanksgiving – The key to a big meal feeding 8-10 people is preparation. You don’t want to have every oven going in parallel in the last 3 hrs. I’m not an iron chef. If I’m making 5 dishes then you better bet most of them are cooked earlier and wrapped in foil for it to be heat up. I’m probably drinking through the actual prep. If you’re doing food for over 10 people, a potluck is probably best.
  18. Writing documentation – Every document I create has a thoughtful title, “purpose”, “context”, and “useful links” to it. I assume someone has read all my things out of order and needs to be reminded because they can’t be bothered to open 3 other documents to get inside my brain. I tend to document everything. Must be my writing obsession.
  19. Scoping new projects – A project worth doing likely has contributions from others so I tend to over document following the point above. The project itself always has dependencies and stakeholders so I like to frame it towards the successful outcome and benefits. The system I use hopes that someone reading it doesn’t think I’ve wasted my time doing something completely not useful or wasted their time for reading it. Every project needs a roadmap and a resource request (if you can’t do everything yourself).
  20. Work to do lists and prioritization – I often get asked how I’m so productive at work. It all starts with the system around what I need to do and then just looking at one thing for a day. I used to create new pages or tabs based on what I need to read or work on, but then I just had 100s of tabs open. The day never finished. Now I follow a separation of activities based on my device. I do all my reading on my phone so those articles are opened with my phone’s browser. I do all my content writing for work on my phone’s email drafts or directly on the slides on the laptop. I immediately close things when I’m done with them.
  21. Motivation of doing work – I tend to do things that I know can take 2-5 minutes first and then don’t even write them down. I’ve often written whole articles as slack threads, but it’s because I thought I could answer it all quickly. For bigger item projects, I tend to have one big thing that I hate to do and wind up doing everything else before even looking at it.
  22. Getting into “the zone” or “flow state” – This probably deserves its own list of 30 strategies. I follow a process of creating my most favorable conditions. It doesn’t involve focus music. It does require turning off all notifications. It sometimes happens when I join boring calls that I probably don’t need to give my full attention. It always happens when I know exactly the order of the chunks of things I need to do and I see the full picture shaping.
  23. Driving to a new place – I rarely use Google maps when I start driving from home. I like the idea of being like my Dad back in the 90s. He’d just having a general idea of how to get somewhere and then just read road signs. I can memorize a few street names and exit numbers. It’ll be fine. We’ll be somewhere close (but I’ll probably get lost in the last 3 minutes).
  24. Reading a menu at a fancy restaurant – If I’m eating somewhere nice, I usually forget about prices and focus on experiences and flavors. I like visualizing the process of making certain dishes and considering what would be fresh or something I might not be able to make myself. The menu formation itself is an art, so I like to appreciate it as such.
  25. Prepping for a trip – Reading blogs and using Google Street view on random locations is my personal favorite rabbit hole. It’s usually a loose plan thinking through the essentials of what I’d do at each stage of my trip. The first and most important thing is transportation between home bases. I need to know each step because I might be too tired from traveling to make good last minute decisions. Once I’m in a home base in the new location, then I can plan some more on activities. I also tend to follow a packing regimen that’s optimized so I pack the Minimum Viable Suitcase (MVS). Carry-on only. Layers. Slippers in case the showers are gross. I tend to not give a crap about what I wear as long as it’s functional.
  26. Visiting a new city while traveling – Other than the fun research, I like to completely throw it out the window and ask for advice. I’m a very talkative traveler and usually ask advice on one place to eat and one place to see. When I was younger, I’d also do a free city walking tour and just meet random people. If I’m traveling to a conference area, I’d probably focus on walking vicinity to get an idea of geography and walkability. It gives me a decent sense of direction in case I get lost.
  27. Writing travel advice – As I’m traveling, I’ll make a ton of random observations about the culture and experiences and write them in a Keep note by the end of the night. I take photos to enhance my memories and use Google maps location to remind me of restaurants or landmarks I’ve visited. At the end, I’ll summarize it with my personal itinerary and write some Google reviews.
  28. Maintaining relationships – As a person that reads a lot and takes a lot of photos, I’m probably thinking about who else would be interested in these learnings and experiences. I have a lot of chat groups and I probably share a link or a photo in them once a week. As someone that does post on Instagram pretty often, it’s good to share to a subset of friends the life that’s not posted publicly. If you only know me by my posts then you may not know me at all. (Except this blog. I write my everything in lists of 30s).
  29. Winding down a long year – I love reflecting on the year and doing my end of year activities – https://seelemons.com/just-life/reflecting-on/
  30. Writing lists of 30s – Every list of 30 I write starts in a Keep note (this isn’t an advertisement for Google Keep, but feel free to contact me if you need one) and gets written within a week. If I think of a good idea, I start it and if I randomly think of something, I’ll add to it. I also think about photos I can take that might be relevant to the topic so I can use it as the hero image. At different times throughout the day, I’d try to get into flow state for 30 minute to finish the writing. At the end, I copy and paste it into the WordPress editor and do a readthrough to fix highlights. Publish on random days at 9AM.

~See Lemons have a System for that