Sometimes things move so fast in our lives and seem so discombobulated that we assume it would take a miracle to get our ducks in a row. But the truth is that small changes literally do make a big difference. A lot of times it’s not the size of the load that’s the problem, but it’s how we carry it. Re-position some things in your day to get a better grip on it. Instead of letting your day drag you, make it work for you. Make it your employee, put it on your payroll, write it up if it slacks off! Set your day up so that you’re coasting in excellence and not having to paddle upstream.
Wait before you work.
So which one describes you:
The person that jumps straight up right when the alarm goes off?
The person that wakes up in a panic long after it goes off?
Or the Snooze Tapper that has every intention of waking up on time, but finds that nothing matters more in those morning moments than another 5 minutes of sleep?
(Psst… that last one is definitely me.)
Have you noticed that when you wake up late or in a panic, that it seems like you’re desperately trying to catch up the remainder of the day, while somehow screwing things up that you normally do every day with ease?
Now let’s rewind to that day you actually woke up early! You had your LIFE together that day, didn’t ya?! Even though you may have gotten less sleep, you probably felt more equipped to handle the day. The whole day you probably thought, “This is GREAT! I need to do this more often!” And the next morning you’re right back to tapping that snooze button.
It’s amazing what waking up just 15 minutes early can accomplish. A lot of our days would become more productive and less stressful if we just allowed ourselves that short amount of time to wait before we dive into our work, or phone, or tv, or email inbox, or social media newsfeed.
The Bible says that when we seek God early, we will find Him (Proverbs 8:17). Even Jesus felt the need to do this, so how much more should we? (Read Mark 1:35). This allows us to start the day with peace instead of panic, which sets the precedent for peace to follow us throughout the entire day. Take a second after waking up to be grateful for the day that is before you, because it wasn’t promised to you. Every day is literally a gift, so the first thing I do as soon as I open my eyes is say “Thank you, Lord. I love you” (usually half in English and half… something else, but God appreciates it nonetheless!)
Allow God to love on you before you go out into the world. Have an intimate moment with Him and let Him download some secrets to you about what the day may bring. Let Him prep you. Don’t just go into war with no strategy. Ask Him what you need to know to be victorious and conquer the day!
Write a to-do list. Every. Morning.
Write the vision and make it plain (Habakkuk 2:2). Listen… the Bible is FULL of practical, simple ways to WIN in life. It’s definitely one of the most useful, but underused, books that exists. God just whispered to me (literally as I was typing that last sentence) and said, “Then spend as much time reading it as you do other books…” Ok Lord, you’re right. I hear you. *hands up in submission* Sometimes you just gotta receive the rebuke.
Back to the point at hand! While I wait before I work, seeking God for daily strategies, I grab a paper and a pen and write down the things He puts on my heart to complete for the day. I always put a few extra things on the list just in case I actually surprise myself and accomplish everything on the list and end up with some extra time on my hands. I live for the days that I get to have my Super Woman moments and stand over my to-do list as if I just slayed a giant. Ahhh… pure bliss. (Thanks to the nuggets I’m dropping in this post, it’s been happening more and more lately!)
This part is important: Number the list in order from the thing you want to accomplish first to the thing you will accomplish last. Once you finish one thing, move right to the next. This saves so much time and effort because it eliminates the tendency to go back and forth on what item you want or feel like doing next. I don’t know about you, but I don’t do well with lots of choices. I’ll never decide. So it helps that I already know what’s happening next so that I don’t slow down the momentum. When you have a good flow going, the worst thing you can do it sit down to “think.” That’s when Productivity’s worst enemies, Laziness and Procrastination, try to sneak attack you! Don’t give those lames the time of day, awkay?!
Rest while you work.
Innovative concept, I know. Hear me out... When there is something that I am dreading, but need to do, I challenge myself to find a way to enjoy it and relax through it. There was one Saturday that I was completely envious of every 9-to-5er because they were out enjoying their beautiful day off, meanwhile, I had an eeextra long work list to tackle (entrepreneurship problems). When one of my friends asked what I had planned for the day, I told her that my plan was to cross everything off of my list while feeling like I had the day off. After I heard that come out of my mouth, I KNEW that God was working on my constant prayers for more faith because it sounded impossible, but oh… it was happening! And it did!! So here’s what I did…
I gave myself something to look forward to between tasks. You have to reward behaviors that you want to be repeated, even with yourself. Accomplishing the task of the day is the Mama Finish Line, but plant Baby Finish Lines along the way. Make these things small and simple, like a handful of Peanut M&Ms, 5 minutes of visiting the items in your Amazon shopping cart (talk about motivation!), a dance break to your favorite song, or your 3rd cup of Mango black tea of the day (just me??)
Make my work space as relaxing and productive as possible. I add aromatherapy, usually by lighting a few candles or using something like that Stress Relieving lotion from Bath and Body Works. *insert heart eyes* But what I love about candles are that they are very relaxing to watch as well. I personally like to play piano Jazz music because it is both calming and stimulating to the brain. That’s my go-to focus music. I wouldn’t have graduated my Master’s program without it. Ha! But no, seriously…
I make sure I have some of my favorite healthy snacks on hand. I’m highly motivated by food! But it’s important to eat things that don’t weigh you down or make you crash while you work. I usually stick with lightly salted popcorn, fruit, or trail mix (try to avoid the ones with chocolate) because foods that require repetitive motions to eat keep me from getting restless and start that constant yawning thing that gives you a headache and make your jaws crack…. Hate that.
If I begin to feel rushed, stressed, or overwhelmed during a task, I set an alarm for 2 – 5 minutes to sit still and rest my mind. When I tell you those few minutes get me ALL the way back together!! It’s amazing.
And now for my favorite tip of all:
I schedule a power nap!
Now before you get too excited there’s a strategy to this. Some of you say you’re going to take a “nap” but what you really take is a “mini sleep.” A power nap is only 10 – 20 minutes long but has amazing benefits! These benefits include:
Boosted productivity, energy, and alertness
Improved heart health
Improved memory and learning
Prevents cell damage
Boosts immune system
It’s best to take your power nap during your “sleepy hour” of the day. There’s a window of time during the day when you are most productive and least productive. For example, my most productive hours are around 8am-3pm and my sleepy hour is usually during the 4 o’clock hour, so if I need a “20” I take it around 4:30pm. If you don’t have the freedom to schedule your power nap during your sleepy hour, then squeeze it in whenever your daily schedule permits. This may sound tough to do, but think about the fact that we spend more than 20 minutes doing less productive things (like getting lost in Pinterest Land for an hour and a half.)
DO NOT sleep longer than 25 minutes!! Any nap longer than this will decrease the benefits of the power nap. The worst thing you can do is oversleep during your nap and wake up in worst shape than you started. And before you say, “Oh I can’t sleep for just 20 minutes” or “It takes me 20 minutes just to fall asleep!” Then take it from a person that used to suffer from insomnia and had to take 3 hour naps during the day… IT’S POSSIBLE!! And it actually helped to eliminate my insomnia and need for “mini sleeps.” I am now an amazing night-sleeper and it only takes me about 5minutes to fall asleep.
If it takes you longer than 5 minutes to calm our mind and fall asleep, then you’re either not tired enough or not allowing your mind to rest. But even if you don’t fall asleep, it’s worth it to just lay down with your eyes closed. Listen to some ocean waves and go to your mental happy place.
Sometimes things move so fast in our lives and seem so discombobulated that we assume it would take a miracle to get our ducks in a row. But the truth is that small changes literally do make a big difference. A lot of times it’s not the size of the load that’s the problem, but it’s how we carry it. Reposition some things in your day to get a better grip on that sukkah so that you lead it and it doesn’t drag you.