Adjusting my morning routine

Are you a morning person? I am not. Then again, I’m not sure I’m an any time person. I don’t seem to have a most-efficient time of the day at all it seems. When I wake up in the morning, I’m usually groggy and grouchy, unless I supermagically have a really good sleep.

I recently listened to Michael Hyatt’s latest podcast which talks about maximizing productivity by having a good morning ritual. I’ve been thinking about this lately as my life schedule has changed significantly in the last two months. My husband has gone back to school, which happens to be almost all night classes. Most days during the week this means I see him for 45 minutes in the day if I don’t get up in good time in the morning. Those 45 minutes require me to be home from work at 5PM, which means if I want to put in a good work week I either need to leave earlier in the morning, or work in the evening after he’s gone. Both are OK options.

Since I’m trying to figure out how to maximize my productivity, live intentionally, I’m wondering: Can I force myself to be a morning person? Can I engineer my life/day so that I get used to getting up in the morning? 

My components of a good day

There are a few things I’ve wanted to add to my life that I can never seem to make sure happen every day.

  1. Recently as I’ve started trying to run, I’ve found that after getting home and eating an early dinner with my husband before he heads off, the sun is almost already down making a run pretty uninviting! I’m looking at  scheduling a morning run/exercise. Granted, soon the sun will be down in the early morning, too.
  2. The other thing that I need to make a priority in my morning is a time to pray, read my Bible, and journal. This is something I try to do every day, but if I don’t make time for it in the morning it’s so easy for busyness to take over and it not get done. When I don’t do this on a regular basis I find myself feeling unbalanced, with my focus on the wrong things.
  3. The third thing that I’ve noticed has helped me have a better day is taking the time to review my schedule and my goals for the day and week.
  4. Finally, spend time with my husband and my DayLight (during the winter). See this post.

Exercise, Center myself, See my husband, and Day Prep. Those appear to be my components of a good day. I have been trying this out for the last week and have been surprised at the results already. The DayLight is helping me wake up early, and this routine is helping me feel more ready for my day.

What about you? What is crucial for your morning routine? 

I LOVE LAMP!

The last four years I’ve noticed a marked difference in my happiness levels starting as early as September 1.  While I may have had it in years prior, I only clued in to the “winter blues” in the last few years. The pattern is the same every year, peaking in the last week of November. The question I’ve been trying to answer every fall is “how do I stay productive while feeling the blues?”

I once heard that during a Canadian winter, one must sunbathe naked at high noon for an hour to naturally get enough Vitamin D. Since I don’t do that (!), the last few years I’ve faithfully taken 1000 IUs of Vitamin D (coupled with Vitamin C) every day. Last year my friend lent me a DayLight which I wasn’t very consistent in using. This past week I started using it again for 15 minutes every morning right when I wake up.

Can I tell you how amazing that was even the first day I used it? The first day! It was like the sun had risen in my heart! I’m confident that this will help throughout this upcoming cold, light-less Montreal winter.

So this winter:

  • vitamin D
  • at least 15 minutes of light therapy a day
  • regular exercise

What about you? Do you get the winter blues? How do you manage? What helps you stay on your game?

UPDATE:

People have been asking me what I recommend. Like I mentioned in the comments, the Philips brand lights are good as well as the DayLight that I use. To be honest, the Philips lights are way more normal sized compared to what I have and probably more reasonable in price, as well as more easily accessible. You can get them at Amazon and Costco.

This week’s Must Reads (Oct 15-21)

I read a lot of articles and blogs during the week. I do this for a few reasons. I like knowing a lot of things about a lot of things, though this is not always the best thing in terms of staying productive. It’s easy to find myself reading, clicking links, reading more and then I’ve spent 20 minutes reading about everything from new bridge designs in Montreal to the science of moisture wicking fabrics etc. I have various methods to keep this under control which I’ll share at another time. For right now, I want to share some of the articles I’ve read this week that are worth sharing. I may have already tweeted the articles or not.

Running

Writing

Productivity

Morning run & a Very Pink Smoothie

This week I have been working on the Couch to 5K program week one. It’s getting easier every time and I’m already starting to enjoy it. Maybe my running location has something to do with it. Here are some pics from my run (note: week 1 of C25K still involves a good chunk of walking).

Then I made a smoothie that was super duper good! I call it the Very Pink Smoothie because it just tastes pink! I like that. I concocted this one. It’s a strawberry banana cranberry flax dealio.  Cranberries are great for Vitamin C but taste nasty so I’m glad I found a use for the extra cranberries we had left over from Thanksgiving. Yum yum.

Recipe

  • half a banana
  • small handful of frozen cranberries
  • 2 slices of frozen peach
  • a few (frozen) strawberries
  • a teaspoon ground flax
  • 1c water (if you’re using all frozen fruit)
  • 1/2c milk or  non-dairy alternative
  • 1/2 teaspoon 1:1 ratio stevia

The third time I ran

Source: Mike Spray

My sleep was being affected by my lack of exercise.** Two weeks of no biking or running, I was sleeping 30 minutes to an hour more than before. I was getting home from work, eating, and by the time my head was screwed on straight again the sun was going down.

I determined to run anyways and did my third run with shoes, since it was getting colder out. As soon as I tied them up I was surprised by how heavy they were. I was afraid I was going to hate the experience again.

I was surprised by three things:

  1.  My stride did not go back to the typical heel strike that is often attributed to shoes. I kept running the same as if I had no shoes on, I could tell this because my heel wasn’t hitting first, and because my muscles in my legs felt the same as when I ran barefoot.
  2.  I didn’t hate it.
  3.  It made the bouts of walking I did easier (because it’s HARD to walk without heel-striking and that does not feel nice when you have no shoes on).

So I’m happy to say that I’m OK to run with these shoes I have, but I still would like to get some barefoot running type shoes, either Vibrams or some of the more normal-looking “minimalist” shoes.

**I wrote these three posts a few weeks ago.

The second time I ran (barefoot)

The other day I had “Run” down on my Daily Portfolio as my daily exercise. After work, supper with my husband before he left for class, finally making it back out of the grocery store, barely surviving the mob of hungry people, dusk had already set at 7:30 and the chances of my run were gone.

I was actually disappointed.

So today, as I saw an un-planned opportunity to run, I took it immediately. I grabbed my iPhone and left the house. I noticed a few things as I ran:

  • I felt my calf muscles differently
  • My endurance wasn’t particularly a problem for another short beginner run. Thankfully all that Bixi-ing I’ve done in the last month has strengthened my endurance.
  • I got bored quickly by going back & forth down the sidewalk near my place, but I kept going down it because the sidewalk was smooth and free of debris.
  • I’m not gonna lie (don’t tell my mom!), as I was running I was wondering how updated all my shots were. Good thing to ask the doctor to check when I see her next.
  • The pads of my feet didn’t hurt this time.

All this to say, I’m encouraged. 1.7k is a far, far ways away from 42k that’s for sure. But it’s at least 1/5 of the way to a 5k.

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