productivity hack #2 – bookends

Also from A Life Less Bullshit:

2. Create daily “bookends”
The way I start my day has a huge impact on how the next 24 hours unfold. If the first thing I do is reach for my phone and check my email in bed, my mind is already buzzing with a list of things that other people need from me. To stop myself from doing this, I bought an alarm clock to use instead of my phone alarm (remember alarm clocks, haha??), and every night before bed I turn my phone off and leave it in another room so that I’m physically incapable of checking my email from bed. (Hey, you do what you gotta do, right?) Now, with that hurdle taken care of, I’m focusing on creating what I call “daily bookends,” little routines to start and end my day. Because that’s the thing: The beginning and end of our day are the times we have the most control over. In the middle of the day, we’re subject to other people’s wants and needs by email, phone, in person, all of it – and it can be tough to focus on what’s most important to us when we’re being bombarded on all sides by other people. With this in mind, one of the easiest ways to ensure you’re still focusing on your personal priorities is to create a simple morning and evening routine to act as “bookends” to your day. Your morning routine might be 10 minutes and involve a latte and quiet meditation. It might be 40 minutes and involve writing in your journal and eating pancakes. For me, it’s peppermint tea and accomplishing one complete task for Life Less Bullshit (writing this note to you, for example, or outlining a blog post). No matter what your routine entails and how long it lasts, starting your day with something important to you sets an empowered tone for the rest of the day. And then, at the end of the day, it’s nice to have a “just before bed” routine, too. You know, a little way to end the day on your own terms instead of just falling into bed like an exhausted wreck. For me, that means 10 minutes of tidying up my apartment and laying out my workout clothes for the morning. For you, it might mean taking a bath, or washing all of your dishes, or reading in bed, or calling your mother. Whatever makes you feel your best. Our daily bookend routines don’t have to be strict, long, or complicated, but I’ve found that I function much better when I draw lines around my time and put a high priority on the things I know are important to me.

The “checking email in bed” was so me…at 5:30 a.m. and at 11:30 p.m.! The habit got so bad that I’d look at email (personal and work) constantly and set a precedent that I’d reply to people at all hours of the night. I also started playing Words with Friends and Scramble under the covers, which further impacted the quality of my sleep. Healthier behaviors at the beginning and end of the day will help me with overall productivity.

My bookends will be:

– Morning: at least for the next week, a morning workout (Pure Barre in Boston or Yogaglo at home), followed by a protein-full breakfast and Bellocq Breakfast tea. Gulp…this will be a difficult change. In the beginning of February, I tried a 6:00 a.m. Pure Barre class on a whim, and discovered I actually liked it. I never thought I’d be a morning exerciser, but now that I don’t do lesson planning in the mornings, I can actually fit in a full hour workout! However, I haven’t tried to do a full five days in a row of morning workouts. Alternating days has been the best I’ve done so far, but a consecutive day habit will require better sleep.

…which leads me to:

– Evening: packing my lunch, setting up the teakettle and tea, laying out an outfit, packing my work bag, writing in my one-line-a-day journal, drinking Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime or Honey Lavender tea and reading. This will be money-saving, time-saving, and calming.

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