To close out my first month as a columnist, I’d like to introduce a special piece that I’ll be calling Normal or Neurotic? In these pieces, I’ll attempt to diagnose some of my behaviors as — you guessed it — normal or neurotic. So, let’s get into it.
Everyday at work the first thing on my to-do list is to put our American flag and newspaper rack outside. I also like to make my cup of coffee as soon as I get to the office so I can sit at my desk and open my email with a hot cup of joe to warm my fingers and kick start my brain.
The Keurig takes about a minute to heat up and about 30 seconds to pour the coffee after I hit the button. Instead of sitting there and waiting during that minute-and-a-half, I maximize my time. Stick with me here…
I walk into my office and set my purse down, walk to the back of the office where the kitchen is and set my lunch bag on the table. I turn on the Keurig to begin heating. Instead of waiting, I go back to the front of the office and put the flag and paper stand outside. I walk to the back of the office, place my cup under the spout, and press the button to allow the liquid gold to flow into my little green cup. Instead of waiting for it to finish pouring, I put my lunch away in our min-fridge.
By the time I’m done with that, the coffee is ready for milk and sugar. I go to my desk at the front of our office, sit down, and begin working.
Why does any of this matter? Because I’m maximizing my time during this morning routine for absolutely no reason. I don’t have an important meeting to get to, I don’t have any rush. So why do I care about shaving a minute-and-a-half off my morning routine?
If I were in some particular rush, I would say this is normal behavior because there is a purpose behind the hurried routine. However, because 99/100 mornings I am in no rush, I’m gonna have to say this behavior is neurotic.
This is a very silly example of my habitual time maximization behaviors, but it’s just to give you some perspective. I do things like this constantly! I am always trying to maximize my time for no reason other than I hate wasted time. Maybe that makes it less neurotic?
Perhaps I should weigh the pros and cons of doing this. On one hand, I got through my morning routine very quickly. But on the other hand, I started my workday in a stressful rush, which set the tone for the day — sometimes making my day so stressful I have to spend my entire lunch break watching ASMR videos of people eating crunchy foods to make myself feel a little better. And guess what, most of my days are stressful even when they don’t need to be.
That gives me a pretty clear answer — I should stop rushing myself when there’s no reasonable purpose to do so. Maybe I’ll start small and just make my coffee without any implications of feeling like a bad employee because I took an extra moment before starting a productive workday. Then maybe I can go on to bigger things. But for now, let’s just see how I do with my routine tomorrow.