Finding 30 Minutes at the Beginning of My Day
Lately I’ve discovered if I hit the ground running first thing in the morning, I get a lot accomplished. This may sound counter-intuitive to you morning people out there, but my normal day has, for the last few years, run from 9 or so in the morning to anywhere from 1 to 3 the next morning. But as my productivity window seems to be changing, I figured I need to change my sleep schedule as well. I’m learning it’s not as easy as it looks.
I started by setting my alarm for 8 after having spent nearly 4 years rising whenever I felt like it, and leaving the alarm in the off position where it almost didn’t want to leave. That worked OK for a while, and I even trained myself to stop hitting the snooze a bazillion times. Finally, I was getting pretty consistent about getting up between 8 and 8:30 so I thought OK, that worked. Let’s try for earlier.
Trial and Error to Effect Change
I’d like to say I’m happily rising between 7:30 and 8:00 consistently, but I seem to have shot myself in the foot. My brain says, oh, don’t worry. Your clock is 20 minutes fast, so it’s barely 7:00. You have plenty of time! Unfortunately, “plenty of time” has meant sleeping until 9 the last two mornings, at which point I fly out of bed scattering cats and pillows hither and yon, trying to make up the lost hour or so I lost when I outsmarted myself.
Sometimes, we need to do more than try to fool ourselves into changing our habits. Before a habit can truly be changed, we have to want to change it, not just consciously, but to the depths of our subconscious too. Clearly I missed the boat on this one.
Working With Our Natural Resistance to Change Instead of Against It
Never one to give up without a fight, especially when it’s with my own change-resistant brain, I’m taking it back to the drawing board. First, I have to recognize all the advantages of getting my day started earlier.
- There’s more day in which to get things done (psychologically speaking)
- I get to the gym earlier and often find it less crowded which means I get my workout done quicker. Voila! Even more day!
- More day means more inclination to take time to make healthier meals.
- Starting earlier means I’ve gotten more done in time to get ready to add another night of dancing.
- Many of my potential and current clients are out of state, and would appreciate earlier con-calls.
All in all, I can see no real disadvantage to starting my day at 8 instead of 9. I know I use up the first hour feeding the cats, writing my morning pages, putting my contacts in and fixing my regular blueberries and yogurt breakfast. It still puts the earliest possible call at about 9:30, but for east-coasters, it’s still morning, if barely.
The Power of Intention
Intentions are powerful things. In fact, when we set a good one, it’s awfully hard to ignore. When I’ve truly wanted to get up early, I’ve had no trouble doing so (though it gets tougher when it’s still dark when I want to get up). Like other habits I’ve set and kept, the secret is in the intention setting, more than anything else.
Sure, I break my pattern now and then, like skipping back and shoulder day so I can actually vacuum and mop the entire house instead of just the rooms where the cats make pigs of themselves. I still end up making up the gym day about 95% of the time, if for no other reason than Jewish guilt.
Did I mention how effective Jewish guilt can be, even with ourselves? I can honestly say I’ve guilted myself into a fair number of better choices simply by asking “do you really need to do that?” Sure, it’s only effective part of the time as I long-ago trained myself to be somewhat resistant. (An overbearing Jewish Mama will send you one of two ways. Into a life of angst and guilt, or one of independence and guilt resistance. I chose the latter.)
Still, like anything else, we need to pick our battles, even with ourselves. This one however, is one I’m determined to win. My evidence lies in those days when I do jump out of bed by 8, and am at the computer working by 9. My productivity levels are unreal on those days, and I truly want more of them.
Adjusting Our Expectations to New Circumstances
My plan is to use the morning hours for client work, then after lunch and meditation, jump right into my own writing; not only these blogs, but the much-delayed completion of my Life Torn Asunder re-write. I was going great guns for a while, but lost my momentum. I believe getting myself on a better daily schedule is the solution to that particular weighty problem. And believing is the first step to manifesting.
Re-setting my alarm to gain 30 minutes might seem a small thing, especially to the people I know who are up at 5:30 every morning (the night owl in me shrinks from rising at that hour as if I’d looked in the mirror and seen a shriveled, ghoulish face instead of my own). Yet for me, it’s a giant leap out of the comfort zone I established after leaving my day job.
Setting our own hours is a luxury for the work-at-homers. But it’s easy to fall into habits of sloth and procrastination. That’s what happened to me, and it’s long past time to reverse the process. I may never be up at 6:30 or 7 on a regular basis again, but I also have no commute. I can still be working at my desk by 9, and even at my slothiest, I can’t call that a bad thing.
Several Small Steps Equal One Giant Leap
I mention baby steps a lot because most of the grand accomplishments in our lives take time. We obtain a degree in our chosen field one class at a time, and one semester (or quarter) at a time. We learn new skills step-by-step. And we change habits little-by-little. It’s far easier to set and reinforce a small change than a large one, and easier to fake out the change resistance in our brains if we don’t make the first few leaps too grand.
Once we’ve made the mind feel comfortable, and maybe even complacent with the changes we’re making, we can take a few of those bigger leaps. Then again, maybe not. If we’re getting where we want to go with the small ones, and we can make 5 or 10 small ones in the same time and with less effort than 1 giant one, is there really any reason to leap when we can step just a little further than comfort allows?
Knowing When to Leap and When to Build a Bridge
Don’t get me wrong. There is a time and a place to suck it up and jump off that cliff. But after you take that giant leap, you need to regroup and take smaller ones for a while until your brain stops whimpering and cowering like a beaten puppy.
What small steps can you take to gain an extra 30 minutes in your day without cutting out something important or sending your brain into a tizzy?
Finding Gratitude Every Step of the Way
My gratitudes today are:
- I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned which help me adapt to change more easily.
- I am grateful for slowly adding more productive time to my day.
- I am grateful for the freedom to find my productive sweet spot, and capitalize on it.
- I am grateful for the support and encouragement I’m getting these days, just by showing up and asking.
- I am grateful for abundance; freedom, joy, encouragement, friendship, an expanding social life and network, newfound marketing skills, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author