One of the areas of my life I am constantly trying to improve is productivity. I can remember this desire to accomplish all of the things starting in elementary school. I would write myself a little weekly schedule in pencil on a lined sheet of notebook paper that I would pin on my bulletin board in my room. It always began with waking up at 5:00am. I have distinct memory of the schedule including things on it like “finish studying for test” and “do push-ups and crunches.” My little Nickelodeon slime radio that I had to the left of my bed on an antique wooden hutch would sound when the clock struck 5:00 with a, “3, 2, 1…*Reveille song*” and the neon green slime bar blinked me awake while the trumpets sounded until I would push the red button and slowly roll out of bed. In theory, my plan was great on paper. In practice, I had a bit of self-discipline, but never enough to adhere to that schedule morning after morning.
These days, I am better about pushing myself to just start things and not listen to the voices in my head that make up excuses (this is human nature), but I still am far from perfect. I am always searching for answers to maximize my potential with the things I can accomplish during a day. Adjusting to a more flexible schedule the past year has been great, but it has also presented its challenges because I am not Type A. The fact of the matter is, I now know the way my mind and body work. What sets me up for the most successful day possible is to carve out two hours for a morning routine. Two hours may sound like a lot, but it seems to be the magic amount of time for my brain and body to ease into the day and get to working at all cylinders. I woke up this morning at 5:00am, and it seemed to be the perfect time (I often have tried for 6am but this was better.) I wanted to share my routine for those feeling like they need some structure and are looking for a roadmap.
5:00am-alarm sounds (hit snooze once, actually get out of bed at 5:07am-working on this habit)
5:12am-meditate for 10 minutes with the Breathe app, set the day’s intention
5:22am-stretch (I have some trouble joints, so these few minutes made a huge difference in the way I was feeling physically)
5:32am-drink a glass of water with the juice of a full lemon while coffee brews; feed Pudge
5:45am-sit down to write morning pages – write while I sip my coffee
6:15am-Dan is now awake and I am in a great mental space. I am also ready to turn on some morning jazz (I do all of the prior activities in silence). While Dan gets ready for school, I tidy the kitchen, make his breakfast and pack his snack bag.
6:45am-Dan has his breakfast, I make my breakfast, we chat.
7:00am-Dan is out the door. I’ve now had my smoothie, had a good amount of water, taken my daily vitamins. My mind is awake, my body is moving, and I am ready to take on the day with focus and a lot of positive energy.
7:15am-Switch music to opera, sit down to write this post (*phone is in another room and set to do not disturb*).
Because I carved out time to myself, I was in the headspace to care for Dan and Pudge and give them both a positive start to their days. I then sat down to write this blog post and finished it in an hour. Depending on the type of article I am writing, this process can take me two hours or more. My mind wasn’t scattered and I was able to share my thoughts more clearly than usual.
It’s also important to share that the reason I was able to wake up at 5:00 this morning was because I set myself up for success last night and was in bed by 10:00pm. I have been staying up later than usual the past several months and waking up about 7:30 or 8:00am. The fact of the matter is, my days aren’t as productive when I operate with less structure. Even though I am not in an office environment anymore, I have realized that if I don’t force structure into my days I don’t accomplish the things I set out to cross off my list. Goals are only accomplished by action, and you have to give yourself the time and space needed to get things done. I’m now ready to seize the day and cross things off of my list.
Any morning routine favorites you have to share? Life hacks that have worked for you? Leave me a note in the comments below!
Wishing you a great week!
I was unemployed for nine months and found that scheduling my days and sticking to a routine was vital to maintaining my sanity. I didn’t get up as early as you but I made a point of setting the alarm every weekday and having a plan for each day. It’s important though to give yourself days off even from self-imposed schedules. I found that every few weeks I’d feel stuck in a rut and need to spend the day doing something completely different and not in the plan, like a museum day.
I also missed the social interaction that most people get in the workplace. It’s a real challenge for the unemployed, stay at home parents, and independent workers. I volunteered weekly with an organization and found it helpful, but it was still difficult for me.