The Shower Strategy

It was hard getting up this morning.  Six a.m. and I had to get myself together so I could get the kids roused for school.  Was up half the night with indigestion.  Sleepy as hell.

After my wife helped me get the kids off to school and the coffee took effect, I faced the last step, getting myself off to work.  It’s a stressful task, my head started to spin with all the things I had to do today.  Getting ready for work means getting an outfit together, showering, getting a lunch together, choosing a coat (I’m in Michigan, 35F this morning), finding my shoes, getting together my cell phone, wallet, watch, keys, sunglasses, watch, iPod Touch, laptop, any books or folders I need for the day. Today is garbage day, so I had to remember to put the trash cans out on the curb too.

Because getting out the door seems such a huge effort, I usually wait until the last minute as well. I’m looking for ways to make hard tasks easier, and I learned awhile ago to have a “pocket pile” by the front door; all my pocket items go in the secretary desk there.

Today, though, I realized that the shower was one of the most stressful parts of the routine, and it doesn’t make sense; that should be relaxing.

I understood today that the stress came from the tasks all circling in my head during the shower.  I plan what to grab for lunch, what I’m going to wear, what I have to remember to do to get out the door.  And then I have to read back that list to myself, saying, okay, you’ve got three main things to remember, lunch, laptop, garbage.  L, L, G.  Three things. And then I worry about the time, if I’m going to make myself late because I didn’t start soon enough. If my mind drifts to phone calls I need to make or emails I need to return, then the list disappears, and I have to struggle to get it back. Okay, three things, what were they?  That stress carries through my whole exit strategy; the worst thing that can happen is for my wife to say, “Oh, can you remember to xyz” as I’m leaving because I usually cannot remember, and my irritability index is at full boil.

I know that it would be easier to get everything ready the night before.  Once in awhile I can do that, especially if I know I won’t be rested, but usually I just feel too tired and put it off.

Today though, it occurred to me to get all my stuff together before my shower. I don’t stress about pocket items, because they are all ready to go.  So I also got together all my clothes, packed my backpack, stuck a note on there to remember to take out the trash, and even got my shoes and coat ready to go, and then headed to the shower.  The result: relaxing shower, calm walk to work, feeling centered now despite tiredness.

I know that the tasks themselves are not always the issue, but the conditions of the task. I was able to take advantage of the urgency of the getting ready to go by getting all my stuff together before the shower, and then the urgency was not overwhelming.

And now I’m blogging about showers.

men's shower

Image by aaron schmidt via Flickr

5 thoughts on “The Shower Strategy

  1. I cannot function in the morning if I don’t lay out my clothes the night before, but packing other things, well I am a lot like you. Half the time, I end up leaving something and have to run back and forth from the car several times. Good for my figure, but not for being on time for work.

  2. Thanks for the replies!

    I tried the strategy again today and, surprise surprise, I got to work a little early today. However, I had a little Excedrin boost beforehand . . .

  3. Yes, I too use the ‘pocket pile’ method. I call it my bowl method. One day I hit upon the idea of putting all ‘loose’ stuff in a large copper bowl I have. I also keep sundry items I might need to take with me like a spare pair of disposable contact lenses. Or wet wipes. Headphones etc.
    THe advantage with a bowl is that it can be moved easily, stuff is easily accessible, easy to see.

    • That’s a good suggestion. However, I use a large immovable desk that closes; if I could move the bowl around, I would forget where I left it. 🙂

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