Recommended Reading for the New Year:  What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam.

These endless months of the pandemic have thrown my days and habits topsy-turvy, especially as one day folds relentlessly into the next.  So I started reading this book for inspiration and motivation.  It’s about making the best use of your time.  Time schemes are what I study anyway, so it makes perfect sense.  

As far as this book goes, in a nutshell, it’s not really about what the most successful people do before breakfast as much as that they are Doing Things Before Breakfast.

In chapter 5, the author also states that you have to take some time off in order to preserve the quality of the work that you do, like hitting a pause and refresh button.  Yet she also points out that leisure time “is too precious to be leisurely about leisure,” and advises penciling in a loose idea of how you’d like to spend that time.

I was walking around 5th Avenue toward Union Square yesterday, doing the Manhattan double-tasking thing of listening to the audiobook as I ran errands through old corridors that I’ve passed by for decades.  Earlier times came flooding back to me, all that seemed important then, whilst observing so many places boarded up and gone—shockingly.  

Vanderkam brought up the old argument of some people’s preference to do absolutely nothing as a break from the week-day’s relentlessness.  Lounge! Loaf! Loll! However, the author advocates planning one’s time off. She acknowledges the reason why most rebel agains the idea is because they associate the word “plan” with “preparing for stuff you really don’t like doing.” 

She puts forth cleverly, “why put all the care into the work-focused week-day and no forethought at all when it comes to using your time to do something fun and satisfying?”  After all, it’s easy to lose time to screen-scrolling, deleting spam, and other distractions.  The author points out this is “the paradox of weekends—that you need to schedule time off, especially as weekends can slip away into chores, errands, email-checking…”. Oops, I was caught red-handed at that remark.

“Weekends are both expansive yet not as infinite as they seem.”

Hilariously, she breaks down the hours of a 2-day weekend:  60 hours from 6 PM Friday and 6 AM Monday.  60 hours – 24 hours for sleep = 36 hours of wakefulness.  36 hours = a full-time job.  Who signs up for a full time job without asking what you are expected to do with that time?   

“Life changes and rituals can change, too.”  Last year definitely conveyed that.  Nothing is ever perfect.  Disruptions happen in spite of the best intentions.  

It’s food for thought.  It’s so easy to rail against having a structured schedule and then bemoan NOT having one.  

This speaks of this past March 2020—that a considerable number of people came under a mandate to rearrange their schedules the world over, for their own good.  

Come late January 2021, because of the new routine experienced in the past year, it’s not surprising that new habits, goals and technology will emerge, along with new structure and new leadership.  It’s not going to be a smooth process but a sustained one that sees spurts, adjustment and reconfiguring, like a fitful jalopy.  And, of course, there will be that faction that wants to see things return to the old way that once was.  That’s understandable, but it’s simply not where the world is anymore.