What are some of your best tips for getting your day off to a good start?
First on the list is a consistent sleep schedule. My goal is to be in bed by 11 PM and wake up at 7 or 7:30 every day, seven days a week. If I cheat and either stay up late or sleep in, I feel it. Sleeping in doesn’t even feel good or luxurious now because this is so ingrained in my head. All of my doctors agree – it isn’t just the number of hours asleep that matters, the consistent sleep schedule is crucial.
Second, coffee. I get up, make a pot and try to swallow at least half a cup before I have to leave the house to take Ledcat to the subway. I typically drink a brand that costs around $7/bag. That’s my criteria – dark roast and no more than $7/bag at the grocery store. I have a pretty reliable Mr. Coffee drip maker, no Keurig for me! I use half and half, but keep a supply of powdered creamer on hand for an emergency. I love the taste of coffee, but I also need the caffeine. If we roll out of the house early for some reason, I can make do with iced tea or something. But a morning without coffee is very sad for me. I also use coffee as a prompt to eat breakfast – when I pour my second cup, I have to eat something even if it’s just a granola bar.
Third, I bite my tongue. Ledcat works in an office while I work from home, sometimes in my jammies. She gets to be fussy, crabby or have access to anything she needs during our mornings. She has to shower, get dressed, find things and so forth. I simply roll out of bed, toss on a sweat shirt over my jammies and get into the car to drive her. I try to get downstairs and take care of the critters’ needs and other tasks to make her mornings a little smoother. Sometimes I fail, but she knows that I try.
Fourth, I listen to my body. I typically need some time to wake up and get connected with the world before I am very productive. That’s not about coffee, it is about plugging my brain into my surroundings. If I’m feeling symptomatic, I may back off a task or reschedule my day. If I feel anxious, I put on something low-key on Netflix to help my mind unwind while I do routine tasks like data entry. If I’m groggy (like from a med change), I set up a time to take a nap and fight the urge to go back to bed by watching something stimulating or visiting a website that’s always engaging.
Fifth, I go outside. Driving Ledcat to work each morning has been a tremendous help to me because I am literally out of the house for a solid ten minutes. That doesn’t seem like much, but it makes all the difference. Then after the dogs eat, I take them outside for a little block of time into our backyard. I walk my older dog around to help him stay loose and this has beneficial effects for me as well.
Sixth on the list is embracing the day for what it brings. Some days are difficult physically and others are frustrating emotionally or intellectually. I try to start the day reminding myself that whatever unfolds, I’ll be okay. Maybe not great or even good, but okay. As the #1 song from my day of birth reminds me “I’ll be there.” And that’s good enough.
Number seven is planning. It is amazing how helpful it can be to pick out my clothes the night before or pack the bag I’ll need for the day. Even something as simple as discussing what to make for dinner can be a major stress reliever. It is equally amazing how even though I know this, I still run around at the last-minute searching for a certain top. Not quite as ingrained as it should be 🙂
Finally, I try to set realistic goals. If I have appointments, they are my focus. If I’m at home all day, I’ll set some household tasks as goals. I don’t always try to do both.
This is hit or miss. I don’t have children to usher off to school and I work from home so those are big time constraint determinants. If my hands are particularly achy, holding a cup of coffee can be problematic much less typing. And I can be lazy as well as incredibly hard on myself. But I try to stay focused on the fact the next morning gives me a new opportunity to try my hand at having a successful day.
What are your tips?