This has been a tough week. When you combine a lack of high quality sleep with some persistent neck and lower back pain you have a recipe for an extra difficult time getting around to doing just about anything. I couldn’t help but feel that I was missing something though to try and improve my situation but in my sleep-deprived state coming up with any kind of insight has been somewhat of a challenge; that is until yesterday morning. I realized that now that the semester is over and without any formal meetings to attend in the morning except once a week, I have been waking up and getting to work in a haphazard sort of way. I have been rolling out of bed a bit later than usual and then precisely because it is later than usual instead of taking any time to myself first thing after waking up and before the responsibilities of the day start, I have been rushing off to work to try to make it in sort of close to my usual start time. I had inadvertently chosen chaos instead of serenity for the start of my day, which inevitably trickled down to my productivity once I did make it into to work.
Prompted yesterday by an early meeting for the first time this week, I gave myself a bit more time at home before heading into work and boy did it make a huge difference to my overall outlook. I woke up and made coffee at home, taking the time to enjoy at least one whole cup as I watched my dogs from my kitchen window. It was a very small change but it paid huge dividends to my overall motivation and energy for the rest of the day. One doesn’t often realize that it is these small changes that overtime can have profound effects on our quality of life.
If you feel that waking up at 5am to get in an hour of hot yoga while writing your book followed by some lemon water as you journal about the three most important priorities in your day is working for you, then by all means keep on doing it. In my own life, that is just not a very reasonable goal although I will admit that sometimes I read productivity or work-life balance literature and think to myself ‘is everyone doing this?’ and ‘am I missing something?’ I have found that making time in the morning for ones self, anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour before you leave the house or get ready to do work, to do whatever makes you feel at peace is the ideal way to start the day. What you fill that time with is completely up to you. The key is to be intentional about this routine and obviously not to fill it with things like checking email which are known stress triggers.
Whether we realize it or not, we all have a morning routine. The difference between a reactionary morning routine that zaps your energy before you even get started and one that sets you up for success is a little deliberateness. It’s not always going to be perfect. I have been the perfect example the last few weeks and while I am not necessarily thrilled that I didn’t realize right away that I was doing myself harm I was still able to pick up on it sooner rather than later and take the necessary steps to make a change precisely because I’m intentional about how I live my life. That is the beauty of intentionality. The more you get used to making choices in a deliberate way to maximize your health and happiness, the less likely you are to go on auto-pilot, and in the instances when you do, you will be able to self-correct that much more quickly and bring yourself back into a state of harmony, no 4am wakeups needed.