After my standard 10 hour work day with an early 6:00 start, I’m rushing home.
Today’s groceries day, and that means I’ll be bulk cooking all my meals for the coming week. This will take 3 hours, time that I see as a necessity in order to remove the overhead of cooking throughout the week.
3 hours? That is 3 hours that I could spend working on my passion project. But 3 hours, this one day of the week is necessary to remove the added overhead of preparing and cleaning dishes each time for smaller cooking.
Fasting? How much more can I do… I already fast 18 hours a day and one 48 hour period once a week, all for the sake of more time on my passion project. Any more and I may interrupt my general health and weight lifting goals. Why can’t there be a pill with all the calories and macronutrients I need?
This is necessary, I tell myself as I’m pulling into the grocery store parking lot.
I run inside, giving myself some extra exercise for the day and further shortening the time being spent. A quick rehearsal of the same grocery items that I get each week, recalling my most efficient route in the store.
Here we go again…
Checking my watch every few minutes to see if I am on track of beating my previous fastest time in the store. This could be the feedback I need of a better way to optimize my store trip… More time for my passion project.
Why not just hire someone to buy/deliver/cook my food? More money… I need my cashflow optimized as well. Cooking is an opportunity to relax and practice being “thoughtless”, a meditative practice that I can work in to my schedule… And what about the life skills I’m developing?
I push the thought out, high performance is all about being in the present moment, no distractions.
A few other “meta-thoughts” come up… Relax my muscles, maintain a slight bend in my knees while I walk, straighten my back, release the tension in my cheeks… Is my current posture reaching for this broccoli promoting bad habits?
Again, push out those thoughts. I remind myself of a lesson I’m learning: any non-relevant thought activity distracts from the current moment and ultimately hinders performance.
Ugh, go away meta-thoughts. Am I building a thought-pattern of being anxious? Why do I always over think?
Okay, a minute later and my mind is clear once more. I’ve been doing meditative practices for so many years that this is getting easier. Thoughts come up, that’s normal, but I’m able to quickly drop them.
The Turning Point
Groceries purchased. No shopping cart to take them to my car, I stick my hand through the loops of the 5-6 bags and “toughen it out” while I carry them to the car. This is an opportunity to exercise discipline and resourcefulness. The arm I place the grocery bags on is the opposite of the arm with my watch on. The watch.. right, I switch which wrist it goes on each day so that I can provide optimal novelty to keep my brain adapting.
More optimizations… But this is all so I can have more time for my passion project, my mission in life.
At home, I skip unloading groceries in the fridge. Cooking day is conveniently placed on grocery store day. I go right to my prepared cooking-ware, already placed on the burners and counters where I need them. Right out the dishwasher from the same morning.
I just bought a new house. This is a new kitchen. I need to find the most optimal way to organize my cooking routine. Thoughts are primed for how to remove unnecessary movement. Maybe next week I should place the extra virgin olive oil over here? That’ll be quicker to access. I’m all for the experimentation if there’s even the slightest hint of minutes saved.
I take off my Oura smart ring so it doesn’t get dirty, when I have a few moments between cooking I’ll go upstairs to to give the ring and my watch their once-a-week charge, perfectly timed when I need them off long-term anyways. Next week I’ll have my chargers moved down on my kitchen table, that’ll save the trip upstairs.
Cooking is done, dishes are cleaned and placed in the dishwasher. I’ll continue to place dishes in the machine throughout the week as I finish using my containers. Then, the day before my grocery store/cooking day I’ll start the washer. The morning of I’ll unload the dishes I’ll need for cooking and place them where they’re needed for cooking. The highly optimized cycle continues…
My food, now prepped in single glass containers. Glass, because heating plastic can be bad for you… The containers laid out in the fridge for optimal access throughout the week. This will limit the time I spend on loading up my lunch box each morning before work.
The following week I repeat this, but I had a rough week and I’m at the point of surrendering the resistance. I slack a little on worry about the optimal routine for cooking.
Half-way through I realize something interesting.
This is going far smoother than usual. I’m recognizing synchronicities: The tablespoon is exactly where I needed it when it was ready for cleaning. The not-dishwasher-safe can opener, placed on a drying mat, ended up being nearly dried by the time I return to it. No towel needed. Why was I convinced that I had to immediately wash it and dry it all in one go? It dried itself within a few minutes…
I look at the clock, not bothering to have checked it every dozen or so minutes.
Only 2 hours and a half hours have gone by. What?! How did I end up more efficient while trying less?
I feel more relaxed too. This whole evening felt effortless.
The typical weight of resistance and constant checking of my mental, emotional, and physical state was also gone.
I end my night with the same few wind-down routine to optimize my sleep. Relaxing with a chapter from my favorite non-fiction book while wearing blue (and red) light blocking glasses. Soon I’ll be in bed, wearing a light blocker over my eyes, ear plugs for my ears, tape over my mouth… all to optimize my sleep.
This routine still feels highly efficient, how could I possibly do better? I need to think more and keep my mind primed for optimizations.
But the lesson from cooking lingers in the back of my mind. Maybe I’m trying too hard… Have I passed the point of diminishing returns?
Post below what you think the moral of this story was. Let’s have some discussion. I’ll reveal my intentions in a future post.
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