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The Value Of Mindless Morning Work

Posted by on February 19, 2013

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About 150 years ago, the day of a typical Old School Man (back then called “a man” and frequently “a woman” because then almost everybody was Old School) might begin like this:

  • Fire up the wood stove
  • Feed and water the family cow
  • Milk the family cow
  • Feed and water the chickens
  • Get the eggs
  • Clean nests and stalls
  • Prepare breakfast for the family (families were bigger back then so this was a chore and a half)
  • Throw in some water fetchin’ and wood choppin’

My mornings, nowhere near as ambitious, can include*:

  • Make coffee
  • Move the chicken tractor
  • Feed and water the fryers
  • Feed and water the layers
  • Feed ducks
  • Feed the goats
  • Get the eggs
  • Load dishwasher

*Specific tasks vary with time of year and amount of ambition

Not too much work and it takes about 30-40 minutes, but it’s some of the most productive time in my day. It’s not productive because it produces more than any other part of my day. It’s productive because it enables the rest of my day to be more productive.

“My brain has a standard transmission”

You know any of those people that wake up ready to literally hit the ground running? They keep their running shoes at the edge of the bed. They get up. Slip into their running shorts and shoes, stretch a few minutes and then head out the door running. Know anybody like that? Yeah, I hate them, too. (If you’re that kind of person and you’re reading this you have my respect. And I still hate you.☺)

Then there are the people whose brains work that way. Bible students who live under the “no read — no feed” rule, meaning they won’t eat anything until they’ve spent some time in the Word. These folks hit the books running. Asking me to get in the Word in the morning without coffee is like asking an octogenarian to eat a steak without his dentures. Sure, he’ll get it down, but it ain’t gonna be pretty.

I think of these people as having an automatic transmission. They can go from zero to sixty at 0-dark-thirty in the morning. I’m not that way. Wish I was, but I’m not. Maybe it’s a limitation that’s in my genes or just in my mind, but either way it’s there.

My brain has a standard transmission and it helps if it can spend a few minutes in first and second gear before getting on the highway. That’s where morning chores come in. Look at that list again.

  • Make coffee
  • Move the chicken tractor
  • Feed and water the fryers
  • Feed and water the layers
  • Feed ducks
  • Feed the goats
  • Get the eggs
  • Load dishwasher

None of that work is brain or body taxing. It is just enough to ready for fourth gear, jump in the shower (3Ss) and ready to start my day with the added benefit of knowing the livestock are taken care of until supper.

Other ways to do it.

For the record, this is a file photo, not my home. I don't know why it's important for me that you know that. It just is. Maybe it's the white couch. Yeah, that's it. The white couch. Who owns a white couch? Not people with kids. Noooooo.

In discussing this post with one of the blogs readers in a Facebook message, he offered his version:

  • Alarm rings.
  • Take iPhone off the charger.
  • Take iPad off the charger.
  • Take MacBook off the charger.
  • Walk downstair. Drink coffee from timer-activated coffee maker.
  • Go back upstairs. Read Facebook while “sitting on the crapper”.*
    *You know who you are, long time OSR reader.

Or another, less effective, way I’ve witnessed:

  • Alarm rings.
  • Get up from bed.
  • Go downstairs and lie on couch, living under the illusion that being down in a different place constitutes being up.

Here’s the point (or at least something semi-pointy):

Front loading your morning with mindless physical tasks that need to be done is a great, Old School way to start your day. It’s not about chickens and goats. It’s about the principle. Mindless tasks first thing in the morning do three things.

  • Gets these things done.
  • Gets your mind and body ready  for more thinking oriented tasks.
  • Frees up time later in the day for the tasks that can only be done then. My kids aren’t awake at 5 am. They are awake at 5 pm. If I’m not loading the dishwasher at 5 pm I can focus on them. My clients don’t take calls at 5 am. They do at 830 am. If I’m ready to go, brain in gear and necessary tasks done, I’ll be better at making calls and sales at 830 am. As it is written in Ecclesiastes 3: 1 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” Don’t do day work at night and vice versa.

Your Old School Homework
Figure out what your “chicken and goats” are.
Start tomorrow.
Get up early and get them done.

Keep It Old School, My Friend

The Old Man

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