Last night, while loading the dishwasher, I couldn’t find my favorite coffee mug. I didn’t think much of it, figuring it must still be on my desk upstairs. Nevermind, I thought– it’s full anyway. I closed the door and ran the load, not thinking anything of it.


Late this morning, continuing my slow-drinking coffee ritual long past the time the coffee pot warmer automatically turns off, I poured a cup to heat up in the microwave. And there it was: yesterday’s coffee mug, dutifully awaiting my return, evidence of my autopilot cycle short-circuiting.


While looking for one more caffeine fix yesterday afternoon, I had heated that mug o’ stale bitterness and left it there to chill as I abruptly switched to cooking dinner. The day had “gotten away from me” and I didn’t realize how badly until this morning.


Routine is good. It helps shape the habits that define a productive day with less thought and effort. Unless of course that routine is shaping thoughtless habits– ones that don’t contribute to sustainable patterns.


That coffee in the microwave was my “canary in the coal mine.” My patterns are trending away from keeping me focused on my highest and best use, forcing my faculties to become over-used. I should have seen it sooner, a la not posting to this blog. I justified other priorities, even though writing here sharpens my saw to do better work.


What’s your canary in the coal mine? What tells you you’re veering off track?