The Topic At Hand: Blank Slate

Most days I do just enough to get by. Get up, pick out some pants, go make a living, head home, eat some dinner, relax a bit, then some sleep. On ‘productive’ days I’m able to pepper in a couple bonus items. Maybe I pay some bills, do a load of laundry, or get a haircut. On the rare occasion I drink too much coffee on a rainy Saturday I might even find time to give the stovetop a once over with a wet paper towel.

I’ve been told that this isn’t enough. There’s a lot more an upstanding member of society should be doing. I’m reminded of this whenever I flip through a magazine and see a list of tips on how to live greener or overhear an infomercial ask me if I’ve been using the same pillow for over a year (um, yeah). Some of these things I know I should be doing regularly but keep putting off (e.g. go to the dentist, check batteries on smoke detector), some of them are one-time annoying tasks that’ll likely never get done unless I consciously put time aside to handle (e.g. defrost the freezer, buy a decent brown belt), and other stuff I’ve been told I need to keep doing but I’m not entirely sure why (e.g. update all my passwords, check my credit score). Over time I’ve become OK with this because I’ve convinced myself of the old adage that there are simply not enough hours in a day. But is that indeed the case?

In order to justify my societal-diagnosed soft schedule I figured I had to at least see if it was even possible to accomplish everything I’m told needs accomplishing. Given a week’s time, could someone feasibly transform himself from a guy like me, who scoffs at coworkers brushing their teeth in the restroom after lunch, to someone who not only brushes their teeth three times a day but also exfoliates, moisturizes, reads the Times, and regularly tests fire extinguishers to ensure proper functionality?

Allow me to share my findings, my calendar. Starting from a blank slate I’ve meticulously scheduled all the tasks and duties that should make up a complete person’s day, one by one, minute by minute, in six phases. The calendars are interactive so please click on items to view details and scroll up and down to see all hours of a given day.

Phase I: The Basics

First things first – a man’s got to eat (3 regularly scheduled meals a day consisting of a variety of healthy foods) and sleep (consistent 8 hour sessions), right?

Phase II: Health & Hygiene

Next comes a legion of duties I’m expected to perform if I hope to one day call myself both able-bodied and well groomed. Items range in levity from the mundane (Mon. 9:00 – 10:00am: get that mole looked at) to the sublime (Fri. 7:00 – 7:45pm: trim pubic hair).

Phase III: Cleanliness

Now that I’ve got myself relatively put together it’s time to tackle my surroundings. Neither nook (Sun. 7:00 – 7:30 am: thoroughly wash all fruit) nor cranny (Thurs. 4:30 – 6:00 pm: dust every goddamned thing) is spared.

Phase IV: Get Organized / Updated / Financially Sound

“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” So said Albert Einstein. I take it a step further when I say, “Out of your Tuesday mornings (6:50 – 7:30), find time to count your loose change. From Sunday (6:45 – 6:50am), find a new Brita filter. In the middle of Thursday (10:15 – 12:30pm) lies ample opportunity to figure out how to delete your MySpace account.”

Phase V: Be a Decent & Safe Human Being

After this phase there is no longer reason to feel guilty (Mon. 11:15 – 11:25am: verify that toilet paper brand is environmentally friendly), uninformed (Sat. 4:45 – 5:55pm: research history of home for use of lead paint) or scared (Sun. 9:45 – 10:00pm: devise fire escape plan).

Phase VI: Odds & Ends

Because even after you’re fed, rested, clean, healthy, organized, and safe you still need to find time to purchase a decent “non-bodega” umbrella (Tues. 7:15 – 8:00pm) and figure out what that random key is for (Wed. 8:30 – 10:00pm).

And there you have it: A week of nothing but pure, list pulverizing accomplishment. If you haven’t already I encourage you to get in there and click around, scroll up and down, see for yourself if I’ve missed anything*. Once satisfied, I urge you to do as I and commence with a weeklong ultimate task blast of your own this upcoming Sunday. If you stick with it perhaps we’ll cross paths at the DMV Friday afternoon (1:30 – 2:30) renewing our respective driver’s licenses.

Good luck!

*Frivolous matters such as bathroom breaks, naps, and career not accounted for.


Read other pieces by Rich Zeroth.

View other pieces on the “Blank Slate” theme here.