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A Dozen Ways to Ruin a Perfectly Good Morning

Photo courtesy of John Liu

Recently, my husband has been making some major changes in his life that have increased his productivity, feelings of self-worth, and overall happiness. He shares all of his ideas with me, and what I’ve noticed so far is that the changes that have had the most effect on his life are the ones that happen in the first hours of his day. Intrigued, I did a little research into the subject, and was surprised to learn a few compelling facts that now have me rethinking my mornings too.

As it turns out, many Americans are sabotaging their overall productivity without even knowing it by getting off on the wrong foot each morning. In the United States, 55% of all adults say that they are ‘morning people,’ while the rest feel perkier in the P.M. However, because you’re likely to find that your days end pretty much the way they start means it’s important to make mornings count.

Interestingly, a podcast about productivity is what really got my attention on this subject with the claim that those self-professed ‘morning people’ are healthier and richer, and that they live longer, happier, more productive lives.

Despite the multitude of internet articles claiming that it’s possible to transform into a person who gleefully bounces out of bed every morning, it is much more realistic to make some tiny shifts to your current (possibly less-than-ideal) morning routine.

See what you can take away from this list of what not to do every A.M., followed by an explanation for what makes each component important to achieving a successful morning (and day):

  1. Sleep as late as possible. Early risers make good use of that quiet alone time. Allow yourself enough time to ease into your day without rushing around like a crazy person.
  2. Blast yourself out of bed with the loudest alarm possible. Jarring yourself into consciousness will guarantee that your day has a jittery start. Find a soothing sound that’s loud enough to wake you up but not startle you.
  3. Save time by skipping breakfast. – The importance of eating a good breakfast is ranked right up there with a good night’s sleep. Just do it.
  4. Forget showering – you took one last night, right? – Last night was a long time ago, and even a quick spray-down will leave you refreshed, invigorated and ALERT.
  5. Check all of your emails. – If possible, have a separate work email address and don’t log in to your work account until your work hours start.  Avoid checking personal emails until your first break of the day, or, if you simply can’t wait, at least put off responding until break time.
  6. See what everyone is up to on Facebook. – Does this even need an explanation?
  7. Make up for lost sleep on the weekends. – While it seems so tempting, keeping a regular sleep schedule – even on the weekends - will make it easier to wake up early on the weekdays.
  8. Don’t exercise. – Getting your blood pumping means more blood-flow to the brain, too. Your metabolism will be ramped up, giving you more energy and burning more calories!
  9. Wear the outfit that strikes your mood. If you’ve ever stood in front of your closet and wasted 30 minutes deciding what to wear, you know that morning-time is definitely not the best time to choose your outfit.  Lay everything out the night before, including shoes and socks, so that decision is already taken care of when wake up time rolls around.
  10. Save the fun for after work. Doing something fun before your work day starts is a surefire way to put you in a positive mood and a good frame of mind. All work and no play is no good for anyone.
  11. Shuffle your kids quickly out the door and onto the school bus so you can get on with your day. It’s been proven that two minutes of hugging per day makes for happier people. A little quality time with the little ones (or teenagers, as the case may be) will be good for all of you.
  12. Once you sit down to work, don’t get up until you absolutely have to. There are so many good reasons to take regular work breaks: improved circulation, avoiding eye strain, giving your hands a break from the computer mouse, and giving yourself a mental break only name a few.

You may never pop out of bed filled with vim and vigor, but that doesn’t have to mean that your mornings have to be disasterous and unproductive. Those of us who aren’t ‘morning people’ can learn how to make the most out of a situation that we’d rather not face at all…or at least until noon.

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The Only One Syllable Word We Struggle to Pronounce, Guest Post by Royale Scuderi

Photo courtesy of Marc Falardeau

It’s hard to say no.

It’s even harder when we really want to say yes! It can be excruciating when it costs us financially or emotionally to say no. But…

There’s always a “but”, isn’t there?

I believe that the toughest no is often the most necessary and the most valuable – at work, at home, in every area of our lives.

What do I mean by a “tough no?” How about when you are offered an exciting project at work, but just can’t fit it in and juggle your other work successfully? Or when you are asked to volunteer for that special cause that is near and dear to your heart, but your plate is already full? Maybe you are offered your “dream job,” but there’s a catch, you have to travel all the time and you have small children? Or maybe it’s a fabulous career move that sounds wonderful, but isn’t really the direction you want to go. How about the potential client, partner, friend that looks good on the outside, but just sucks all of your energy?

You know what I’m talking about. You’re beginning to sway, your arm is being twisted either by money, pride, or guilt – but deep in the pit of your stomach, you just know that saying yes is the wrong decision – or maybe now just isn’t the right time.

Can you say no? Should you?

Yes, you can! Yes, you should!

I have struggled with this from time to time and have always been glad when I managed to choke out the “NO” even if it half killed me to do it. I just recently wrestled hard with a “tough no” that might have cost me financially in the short run, but would have taken me down the wrong path and stood in the way of long-term goals. It was the right choice for me even though it was incredibly scary and heart wrenching to utter that no and then follow through and stand firm on it.

If something is not a good fit for you – the best answer is no.

If something doesn’t quite feel right – the best answer is no.

If something takes you off your path, veering from your vision and beliefs – the best answer is no.

Stay on course.

Know where you’re going.

Have your priorities straight.

Listen to your gut.

And most importantly – when the decision is made and the NO is given, move on and don’t look back!

The beauty of the tough no is that in having the courage to dig down deep and honor your soul, you open up the space for new wonderful opportunities to flow into your life and you’ll be able to confidently offer the joyous “Yes!”

Royale Scuderi is a life fulfillment expert, consultant and freelance writer who specializes in personal and professional growth, life satisfaction, and success. She is a curator of ideas and strategies that support a productive and purposeful life. Visit her at Productive Life Concepts .

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The #1 Way to Completely Ruin Your Weekend

Photo courtesy of Crock TeesIf your ultimate goal is to have the worst weekend of your life, keep reading. If you want to spend days repeatedly fixing your own mistakes, you totally wish you were me right now. Don’t worry – I will tell you exactly how you can totally ruin your weekend BUT, in the interest of self-improvement, I’m also going to be forced to tell you how to enjoy your weekend instead. Just in case you change your mind.

It all started out innocently enough. I wanted a swimming pool in my backyard, but I couldn’t afford the kind that is installed by pool professionals. If I had that much extra money, believe me, that is what I would have done. BELIEVE. ME. However, when I pulled up my bank account balance on the internet, instead of numbers it simply said, “Do it yourself.” Hmmm.

Buying the pool and supplies was easy and kind of fun! I loaded a shopping cart with all kinds of pool rafts, tester kits, and chlorine tablets. I brought everything home (including the pool) and Operation Pool Fail began! I was given the title of Director and Chemical Engineer, due to my physical limitations, and I quickly led the rest of the family…into a weekend of pure torture.

  • Day 1 

    We built that pool so fast I think we broke a record somewhere. There was much back patting.

  • Two Hours Later 

    Directions? We were supposed to follow those? The pool began to look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and we decided to start all over using the directions. We crafted an ingenious DIY tarp trench to allow for speedy pool drainage, and still waited all night for the pool to empty. (We did go to sleep, though.)

  • Day 2 

    We dismantled the entire pool we had assembled the day before so we could level out the ground underneath. This is emphasized in the directions.  We discovered an additional 87 other errors due to our poor planning and we had to work all day to fix them.

  • Day 3 

    We built the pool for a second time in sweltering heat and nearly dehydrated ourselves (ironic since we were building a pool). We became covered from head to toe in bug bites because no one thought ahead and bought some OFF!  After much sweat, some tears and a whole lot of kicking ourselves, we collapsed to ground and swore that we would do better next time.

Do yourselves a favor and learn from my mistakes. If I learned anything this weekend, other than which bug bite cream works best and that I do NOT look good with hat hair, it’s this: the nitty gritty particulars of proper planning are much more preferable to witlessly winging it. By investing time in formulating a solid plan before starting a project, you’ll not only save time in the end, but you’ll also save your sanity, and possibly, your weekend.

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