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The Game

I play this game of productivity each morning that I’m home, taking habits I’ve looped together and creating progress metrics within them. First I set the kettle filled with cold water, then drink a pint of water while reading. I try to get at least five pages of meaningful reading done before the kettle whistles. Sometimes it’s only three pages, depending on the conspiracy between the depth of reading and the volume of water being heated. But the goal remains five pages, conspiracies be damned. I could max out the font on my Kindle app to even the playing field, but really, who am I cheating but myself?

Once my coffee is made, I write. My goal is to write 150 words before the coffee cools enough to sip, and then finish this morning’s post before I finish the cup. Sometimes the game is easy, sometimes I fail miserably, but I’m always more productive than I otherwise might have been. Such is the nature of habit loops, pulling us moment by moment in the direction we’ve set for ourselves.

What’s missing in this morning routine is movement. And I’m well aware of the omission. Burpees created shoulder problems, rowing for me is best done in the afternoon, and long walks aren’t possible in the frenzy of a workday morning. But not all habits need to be lumped into the same loop, and I’ve shifted movement to the late afternoon or early evening, when I need it most. It’s become a defined break between work and personal time. Often I’ll add a game or two of chess here, and read a few more pages. If I haven’t done it already, I’ll also chip away at Duolingo tackling French. This used to be a morning activity but I’d get too restless after reading and writing to lump a session with French in, so I’ve taken to doing it in the evenings, instead of watching television. I’ll combine some reading here after Duolingo. Sometimes television wins the hour but I’ve kept the Duolingo streak alive all year.

And that brings me to the last game of the day; reading before sleep takes over. Unlike the morning reading session I’m usually tapped out by late evening. Reading in bed instead of checking Twitter or the news is a way to end on a positive note, but I know I’m good for maybe five pages at most before I’m tapped out. The game is to try, and usually I get two or three pages in before I nod off. Game over, but another day ahead of where I was yesterday. That’s a win, isn’t it?

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