Rooted in Routines – Disability VS Habit


I’m not level-Melvin Udall yet; I don’t take pleasure in flicking the light switch on and off five times before entering any room, or feel the need to bin a bar of soap after each use – That’s OCD, not habit. Or as we Singaporeans comically imitate the Thai: Same same, but different.

The need to abide by a routine – be it with the help from planners, task apps or lists galore (I’ve done it all) – has become a chronic disability, crippling my ability to spontaneously ‘enjoy life’. Or as I like to call it: Being unprepared.

Having a regular routine keeps me structured and calm. I discovered this during my last year of University that being neat and organised actually helped me gather my thoughts better.

Growing up a chronic overthinker has led me to quiver at the slightest indications of stress, making me quake and fret over things ranging from house-break ins to something as inconsequential as not getting enough sleep for the night. (Sleep dread’s a real thing).

And though I am aware that these scenarios – as laughable as they sound – may seem far-fetched, they certainly pull their weight during 1am nights of insomnia as I toss and turn on a bed seemingly made of stone. My resolution? Establish coping mechanisms such as wind-up and wind-down routines to move the day/night along with minimal drama.

As such, I have tackled my nights with hot milk and a soothing audiobook. As for my mornings at the office, every morning goes the same way. It also helps that my office is blissfully invigorating, with the perfect 24-degreed indoors and Ennio Morricone on the Bluetooth speakers – One of the finest pairings if there ever was one.

And being a chronic over-thinker doesn’t only affect my sleep. If you have ever spoken to me, you’d understand that my speech can get incredibly interrupted – at times garbled – with me sometimes forgetting to breathe, compulsively flitting from one topic to the next without any semblance of structure.

Internally, this happens because I have too much on my mind fighting to be heard in a single sentence – Words tumbling over the next, each explanation hinging on yet another memory which happened that time with that person, which makes it imperative for you to understand the backstory of memory 249576118371 in order to connect the dots.

That is why it can make conversations so tiring – especially when I’m trying to explain something that happened – when I can’t seem to coordinate most of my thoughts into a single stream of cohesive consciousness. As a result, most of my meeting agendas are planned to a T, lists are my Best Friend, and I blog my thoughts with thorough edits, all to ensure less room for error in the flibbertigibbet department.

You think that’s bad? I used a Powerpoint deck to plan my recent 8D7N trip to Taipei. You should’ve seen the way Aaron looked at me when I pulled it up on my laptop. Disbelief is putting it mildly.