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3 Serving Habits I have Built Since Returning Home

Returning home was a milestone moment in the journey of my life. As I wrote in my essay about the move, the idea was to do more of what I love, in the land I love, around those I love.

Interestingly, events ranging from the pandemic to confronting loss and reliving trauma have served as hiccups that kept me from gaining momentum.

Although there was no way of controlling these events, what has helped is to divert the energy toward areas where I did have control, such as my habits. Having achieved consistency with three such habits over the years, I felt it is about time I write about them.

Here they are -

1. Waking & Sleeping Early

Technically first kickstarted during my corporate days, waking early is possibly the most serving habit I have built in recent years. I remember coming across its benefits in an interview with Tim Cook I had read. The most obvious of these benefits was to get space to tick off the important stuff in the morning, such that distractions that invariably come up do not distract us. During those corporate days beating the traffic was another benefit.

Even though my commute is now a comical walk from the bedroom to the studio, I have not just kept up with the habit but doubled down on it. During my corporate days, I would wake between 6 am to 7 am and depart for work by 9 am at the latest. Since moving, I tend to wake naturally between 4-5 am. The benefit of drowning out distractions is possibly more valuable with the creative nature of my present work.

As someone suffering from insomnia, it has not been waking up that’s been a challenge as much as falling asleep. What has worked over the years is to form a custom night-time routine. I start with a hot water bath (with the intent of temperature regulation to aid sleep), diffuse lavender essential oil, cool the bedroom (same intent as earlier), and light reading. Since I do not use screens during or after this time, it’s got to be a physical book.

Of course, despite all of this, sleep can still be elusive at times. What helps on such nights is to burn one down or to let it happen and do something instead of forcing sleep.

2. Riyaz

Riyaz is “the systematic practice of music, dance, or any other art form.” In the early days of taking the plunge, I noticed quickly that my creative sensibilities were rapidly evolving and that it might be prudent to focus more on showing up with my work rather than showing off.

As a result, I began focusing more on riyaz or putting in the thousands of hours of practice rooted in polishing my sensibilities and focusing on consistency rather than being prolific with sharing my work.

As a general thumb rule, I have tried to make sure that I either write, make music, or capture visuals every single day. If there is a break to the streak, I try to rebuild it as soon as possible.

Besides the more obvious benefit of helping me get better at my craft, it also serves as a great way to add structure and calm to what can often feel like a chaotic rhythm to life.

3. Analytics

Another corporate habit that has come in handy is to maintain documentation on data around how I spent my time and money using spreadsheets.

No longer working with others, I have benefited by practicing self-discipline to accurately and consistently track this data. Having the data means I can derive insights and trends (visualized using charts and pivots). At a quick glance, I can find out my most inactive days or top expenses.

Again, much like riyaz, documenting and analyzing this information daily also helped offer a semblance of structure and control during an otherwise chaotic period.

If you are a member, check your inbox to download templates (and a guide) for tracking and analyzing your time and finances using the spreadsheet app Numbers by Apple.

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