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My life is full of little routines I’ve settled into. Occasionally something comes along that disrupts my routines. They shuffle around and make compromise or they go away, entirely replaced by new routines.

The Rituals of Living

the passage of time dominates the stage of existence. my life along with the lives of others are a series of routines upon that stage. This stage desperately needs choreography. these routines of mine should be subjected to a deep investigation and given due reconsideration.

Wherever I go, there I am: embedded in an ecosystem of my personal space. Whether I am at home, at work or shopping I bring my personal space with me into that environment. The objects in that space are objects in an ecosystem. Managing those objects to produce desired results is done through routines that I’ve haphazardly settled into. There are tools I can use to improve these routines to provide an abundance of well-being. If I can reframe routines with language and create an intellectual structure through which to investigate and optimize them, I can also manufacture an abundance of freedom. I can begin exploring ways to spend my time efficiently.

One of the tools to accomplish this is time management. Often investigated from only a professional standpoint; building on the works of others will only yield information about procrastination, email, phone calls, meetings and vacations. This is frustrating because time doesn't stop when I leave work. Time is a river of continuous action coursing through the entirety of my life. Time management should have been about all aspects of life as much as it has been about work. Even still, some aspects from the body of knowledge regarding time management can be reframed in a language that is more general. A language that penetrates the system of routines I’ve settled into to “go with the flow”. A system of insights that get to the essence of what it is I am really supposed to be doing.

Societies are made of humans and their machines, and my society is no exception. In the footnotes I find that my society is more fully enjoyed and led by successful humans and operates upon the backs of candidates for humanity. To have success is the paramount goal for everyone. To do it quickly and cleverly by any legitimate means possible so that freedom can be bought and experienced. The freedom to authentically own the limited time I have. For most, this never pans out.

Instead of growth serving life, life must now serve growth perverting the very purpose of existence

— Leopold Kohr

Though working hard is exactly what everyone seems to be doing, hard work doesn’t equal success. Working hard just isn’t good enough. Work simplification is in order. Working smarter is part of the answer. However, smarter work must be combined with harder work. Working smarter leads to more finished work with less effort, and hence is a substitute for harder work. It leaves you with more time to work, which must be feed back into working harder on ways to work even smarter. This feedback loop can lead to continuous improvement, especially when technology is involved in the automation of mundane and repetitive tasks.

Even then success is not a given. Hard and smart work taken to the limits of perfection in process efficiency will not guarantee success. In fact, successful people can trace the genesis of their success to a specific tipping point; an introduction by someone influential into a leadership role within a tribe. The result is success, an abundance of financial security that leads to the freedom to pursue chosen passions. Therefore, to bring success to everyone is impossible. There simply aren’t enough tribes to lead. Yet the definition of success needn’t be reframed, merely the avenues through which it can be obtained.

The normal workweek is 40 hours, but an actual 7 day week totals 168 hours. On average 56 of them are spent sleeping so that leaves 112 hours left of wakeful life outside the professional workweek. In actuality a great many "candidates for humanity" spend more than 40 hours working, by choice. Even more so when factoring in commutes, lunch breaks and after-hours work related social functions as time spent in pursuit of the necessity of being at or near their work.

On the average 44.8% of a life is spent at work. The rest of the 55.2% of a life is divided amongst personal responsibilities like the need to go shopping, pay bills, take care of a lawn, cleaning a house, bathing, eating, caring for family and friends. These little nuances don’t take a great deal of time in isolation, but together they can quickly add up leaving very little time left over for personal growth.

Work smarter... not harder

— Allan F. Mogensen

Professional life and private life tend to have a strong demarcation. Professional life feels like work for many people. Does private life feel like living? Because private life contains a great deal of work too, and a successful private life even more so. It makes sense to work toward bringing these two hemispheres of life into alignment toward a common purpose. In the spirit of this, I will then draw no distinction between the two for the sake of exploring this train of thought.

Routine actually comes from the French word rute which means road. Old French got the word from the latin rupta meaning broken. In latin rupta via is a route, literally meaning a broken way. The word routine, it means a sequence of activities. When people say “oh, that’s routine” it seems they mean an ad-hoc, vaguely conceived and hurriedly assembled sequence of activities. Something that feels like it will get the result needed, so hurry up and get started because there isn’t much time. The word routine has a listless quality.

Ritual, however, is a carefully conceived routine from the latin ritus meaning rite. It feels right to use this word instead when describing the enhancement of routines. To describe ritual I introduce some vocabulary to simplify the parts. Using this subtle shift in language builds a cognitive structure of names and forms — software for the mind. The names and forms of this vocabulary can be transliterated into a machine language and symbolically manipulated — software for a machine. As a result, this description of ritual can be encoded in software and the knowledge of rituals can be shared without the overhead of learning from scratch. This is important, because manufacturing an abundance of freedom is synonymous with increasing autonomy. If I can automate as much of my ritual as possible, I will have more time to experience authentic freedom.

'Sankey's original 1898 diagram...'

A routine, in general, is something that I do in order to produce some effect on myself or in the environment. A routine is a kind of elementary Recipe. A recipe requires the input of materials and tools. It describes a procedure for using those tools to transform the input materials into some desired outputs. Recipes are not limited to the concoction of food, but can describe the manufacture of anything. It is obvious that they can be plugged together, outputs into inputs.

The tools and the input/output materials are Resources and flow along avenues through the network of recipes. The complete structure of these interconnected recipes is my ritual. When my ritual is formally described, it can be depicted on a computer. I can use these incredible technological advances that have transcended human limitation. I can compare the results of my ritual with well-being well-defined. I am then empowered to shape my ritual with real data, to simulate results as well as to keep an historical record. My ritual can “learn” to optimize the production of well-being. It can “learn” to provide the agent of care — the prime mover in the ecosystem of my personal space — a greater autonomy; a greater abundance of free time.

Greater autonomy is not about spending your life doing nothing. It’s not even about having more time. It’s about optimizing the amount of time you’re given to do even more than you have been. By not following the same blind routines indefinitely, but shifting the locus of control and engineering routines that enable discovering and fully sharing your authentic self.