He chafed against the routine of youth, rising, school, homework, dinner, TV, back to bed, visits to family and church on Sunday. He broke with routine in college, attending class only when it interested him, keeping no schedule for meals or sleep. He had the luxury of selecting only jobs that afforded him the opportunity to work his own hours. He continued in this manner for forty years.
In 2010 his employer was purchased by a large company, with very good medical benefits, that did not include his HMO. Friends recommended a PPO organization. He selected a primary care provider. She sent him to a cardiologist, who suggested he see a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist was good, but moved on. His next psychiatrist was good. She encouraged him to establish a routine. He resisted. She moved on. His next psychiatrist, who he still sees, was good. She convinced him to improve his sleep hygiene. He finally agreed to try.
He has compromised. His day is structured around sleep and meals, but has blocks of unstructured time:
0600 He awakens, puts on his moccasins and goes to the toilet. He has an enlarge prostate. This takes a while.
0610 He weighs himself, takes his blood pressure and goes to the dining room
0611 He moves the full spectrum lamp onto the table. He turns it on and starts a timer on his iPad. He plugs the iPad and his iPhone into the charger, readies his stylus and puts on his reading glasses.
06212 He has SAD. He spends an hour in the light of the lamp. He uses the time on his tablet:
- He reads his email then checks his calendar for the day.
- He checks his To-Do list. He maintains it with ToDoist. It will show routine items for each day as well as weekly and monthly chores and one time tasks.
- He reads a few web comics. Every day he reads Schlock Mercenary. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays he also reads Freefall and Girl Genius.
- He solves puzzles in flow free. There are new easy puzzles each day. If he takes the time to solve them he extends his “streak”. There are also packs of puzzles. He has solved several thousand of those and will soon run out.
- He may write entries for his blog.
- He uses any remaining time according to his mood:
- He may play a game. He has recently completed The Room 3. He has found more room escape games, Talos and The House of DaVinci. He prefers puzzle games, either story line walk throughs like The Room series or physics simulations, like The Incredible Machine. He has a bridge building simulation but is stuck and hasn’t looked at it in weeks.
- He may check the status of Amazon orders.
- He may check his Vanguard account, perhaps trading or moving money between investments.
- He may read from a book using the Kindle reader. He is currently reading The ship breakers. He uses Amazon prime, and so receives a new novel each month. He has also bought several books he has not read. Once he would not buy another book until he finished reading the current one. This change amuses him.
0715 He removes his reading glasses, caps his stylus, unplugs his devices, puts the lamp away and makes breakfast: A Wasa brand light rye cracker, a slice of meat, usually ham, and a slice of cheddar, lightly toasted in the microwave. He eats at the dining table.
0730 He places his breakfast dish in the dishwasher, moves his reading glasses, stylus, and devices to the coffee table.
0731 He goes to the toilet, brushes his teeth, then shaves. He was unkempt for most of his life, leaving his hair and beard untrimmed and long. Now he keeps his hair short, and trimmed by a barber every six weeks. He has a beard trimmer and keeps a neat short beard. He showers, dries himself and dresses, fresh underwear, a clean shirt, jeans and shoes. Once he wore nothing but black t-shirts. Now he wears t-shirts with designs, or, more often, polo shirts. In winter, he will wear long sleeve shirts. He winds his pocket watch. It keeps good time when it is wound daily. He takes eight pills. He has gout, diabetes, high blood pressure, GERD, high cholesterol, an enlarged prostate, sleep apnea and depression.
0800 He moves to the bedroom where his computer is. He is learning to use the 3d rendering program blender. He alternates between doing tutorials and practicing the techniques from the tutorials. He has made a brief animated film, which still awaits post production, and is now working through a tutorial constructing a ukulele. He alternates this with constructing a classical guitar. The tutorial makes an approximate identifiable ukulele. He is constructing the guitar to match plans he has found on the web. The techniques are similar, but the detail is more precise and there is more of it. He will eventually become bored before completing the guitar and move on to other tutorials. His folders are littered with half finished projects.
1000 He performs tasks on his todo list for the day. In winter he limits himself to easy tasks mostly performed on line. SAD leaves him unmotivated to perform anything more complex. When the SAD is abated, he performs active tasks.
1100 He drives to lunch. Tuesdays and Thursdays he lunches with acquaintances from his days in technology. Tuesdays they have rotated among three restaurants, New Tandoori on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays, Yiassoo on the 2nd and City Fish on the 4th. Recently, New Tandoori has raised its prices. The person who arranges the lunches is looking for alternatives. He would like to replace it with Himalayan Kitchen, but that is farther than the three regulars from Apple would like to go, so he is looking for places closer to Apple.
Other days he eats with his wife. On Sundays, Fridays and Saturdays, weather permitting, they take their dog and eat at outdoor tables. On Sundays, they rotate through a list of four restaurants, Yiassoo, La Salsa, Fishes Wild, and City Fish. City Fish does not have outdoor seating. Every fifth Sunday, they pick a restaurant they’ve not been to before. Mondays they eat at Chick-Fil-A. Wednesdays they pick a restaurant, often Carl’s Jr or Arby’s but sometimes one they haven’t been to. Fridays they eat at Starbird, and take the dog. Saturdays they eat at Adamson’s French Dip and take the dog. They have eaten there every Saturday they are in town since it opened in 2000.
His unstructured time starts when lunch ends. He will spend more time on the computer, or work on other tasks from the To-Do list, perhaps read. During the afternoon, he will walk for an hour. He tries to match his walk with errands, usually shopping at nearby grocery or department stores. He lives a mile from a shopping center that contains a Trader Joes’s, and a Safeway. Nearby there is a Target. In a different direction there is a tiny strip mall with a 7/11 and an O’Reilly Auto Parts store. Somewhat farther in the opposite direction, there is an REI and a Bed, Bath and Beyond. Down the street from them is an Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH) store.
His recent projects have included a multiple day effort to clean 25 years of hoarding from his bedroom, give away what he no longer wants and recycle what he can. In the spring he will start on the next cleaning, finding homes for a dark room, studio lighting, and film cameras he no longer uses. Then there is the garage. It will take months, if not years to clean.
1730 He discusses dinner with his wife. Wednesdays the cleaners come at dinner time, so they will eat at Five Guys Burgers and Frys. It has outdoor seating so they take the dog. Fridays they will walk to dinner, weather permitting. There are many restaurants in the shopping center and in nearby strip malls, although they mostly choose La Bamba or Hunan Home’s Express. If they eat at home, they will eat at 1800.
1900 They sit together at a computer. They look at the Cheeseburger web site I can has Cheeseburger, I has a hotdog, Fail Nation, and Wins. They look at Facebook to see what their families have posted. He rarely posts to facebook.
More unstructured time starts when they are done. Currently, they watch an episode of The Avengers from the Complete Misses Peel DVD collection. The only other TV they have watched in years is Game of Thrones and Doctor Who. Once he would have retired to his bed, where he would use his laptop until late and then sleep. His psychiatrist has convinced him to only use the bed for sleep. Now he will change into his pajamas, and use the iPad in the front room until bed time.
2200 He takes eight pills, adds water to his CPAP humidifier and goes to bed. He will rise a few times during the night to use the toilet but otherwise sleeps until 0600.
He has daily, weekly, monthly and other periodic tasks in his To-Do list. Most are to remind him to take care of himself: taking his pills, having his haircut, cleaning his CPAP equipment, replacing his hearing aid batteries and ear domes. Many are computer house keeping, checking on backups, making sure mobile devices are synchronized and computer updates are installed.
He has one additional periodic entry in his calendar. He sees his therapist every other Wednesday. They will discuss whether to change that to monthly at their next session. He has breakfast monthly with a friend, but that varies depending on the season and their travel schedules. Most of the remaining entries are for occasional medical appointments. He sees his PCP yearly and when new problems arise. He sees a cardiologist, psychiatrist, sleep specialist, rheumatologist, endocrinologist, and urologist for his various conditions.
His routine is varied by travel. His wife used an inheritance to buy an RV and they take various length trough out the year. He adheres to his sleep schedule as much as possible and other routines but on a flexible daily schedule, punctuated by periods of driving.