Say No to Miserable Monday Mornings

And I mean really say no. Say no to the tears, the tantrums, the frustration, the sinking feeling that the rest of your week is going to pan out in the same chaotic way. Just no.  You have to say no because your mood in the morning is going to reflect on your mood for the rest of your day. Say no because your bad mood is setting yourself up for failure.

Did you just catch what I wrote back there? Your mood in the morning is going to reflect on your mood for the rest of your day. So there is a way to turn things around if you want to avoid that downward spiral, even if your morning didn’t start off as smoothly as you’d hoped. (You can read more about how to cope with a late start here.) It’s just a matter of making some small adjustments to your morning routine. (If you don’t have a morning routine that might be part of the issue, which is why you should read this post here.)

I’m not a morning person either so trying to get back into the swing of things after the relaxation and freedom of the weekend is especially a challenge for me. However, since changing my alarm in the morning from a blaring alert to an upbeat song, I’ve found my mood improve dramatically from the moment I open my eyes. Giving up on the snooze button helped as well, as did my habit of setting myself multiple alarms. Now when I hear that song go off in the morning, I know it means business and I have no choice but to wake up. (Click here if bedtime is an issue for you too.)

Making bleary-eyed decisions stresses me out so I try to do as much as I can the night before to help my grumpy morning self: pack my bag, choose an outfit- anything that can help simplify my morning routine. Keeping things streamlined in my home doesn’t hurt either- I’ve made all of my accessories and toiletries easily accessible and I’ve been in the process of creating a drop zone to help me get out the door quickly. If you wake up and find your mind racing, you may want to include meditation, yoga, stretching, or journal-writing into your morning routine to clear your mind and get you motivated.

You also may want to consider what your schedule looks like Monday morning; I once had a client who took that time off to do his weekly review to get a clear picture of what the week ahead looked like. (In some ways it makes more sense than a Friday, no?)

More than anything, though, I’ve found that a change in my attitude has been key in making my mondays a little more manageable. I’ve tried to let go of the little things that used to freak me out (like having a bad hair day) and put things into perspective. At the end of the week, a lot of what I worried about Monday morning has already been accomplished. Why would I bum myself out about the things that I needed to get done before I actually had an opportunity to do them?

So when Monday morning comes around, I try to do myself a favor and take everything in stride: all my tasks will get done in a (probably) timely fashion by the end of the week, and all my little frustrations will (most likely) be gone by then as well. I changed my perspective, which changed my mood, and it kind of changed my Monday mornings. I hope it changes yours as well.

Do you have your own strategy for waking up Monday mornings? Tell us your secret to becoming a morning person- comment below or email me at keepingbusywithb@gmail.com and I may feature your advice in an upcoming article!

More Thoughts on Procrastination

KBB_reading_nookA little while back I wrote about some of the ways in which procrastination is a healthy device that allows us a little more insight as to how we work, why we work the way we do and some of the ways we an embrace procrastination as a natural part of the workflow process. Intrigued? Don’t wait until later to read it. (You can find it here.)

As much as I believe in the potential for procrastination as a useful tool to work smarter instead of harder, there is a fine line between embracing the practice and being overwhelmed by it. When a procrastination habit becomes harmful, it’s probably time to reconsider the reasons behind it and develop new strategies to make sure we meet our deadlines on time, while still on our terms.

There’s no scientific method to my strategy to combat procrastination, but the solutions I’ve found seem to fall into three categories.

Determining the Problem

A doctor can provide relief for certain symptoms; however, he or she cannot treat you until the root cause of the illness has been determined. In a similar fashion, until you determine why it is that you’re procrastinating on a certain task you cannot begin to find a true solution to your bad habit. You’re simply putting a band-aid over the problem. Do some real soul-searching to try and figure out why you’re doing this to yourself.

Are you suffering from a lack of motivation? Set goals, determine rewards and build patterns into your daily life that help you work towards the completion of your project.

Having trouble keeping focus? Shorten the blocks of time you plan to focus on a certain task. More often than not even committing to just ten minutes of performing a certain task can encourage us to focus on it longer. Still not working? Take notes on your energy levels and amount of focus throughout your day and adjust your schedule accordingly. Try saving the more difficult or complicated tasks that require the most of your attention during the times when your alertness is at its peak.

Deleting the Unnecessary

Often our schedules are overflowing with multiple commitments, social engagements and various other personal and professional activities. It’s easy to procrastinate when feeling overwhelmed or stressed so when yourself letting important things slide because of an overcrowded schedule, it may be time to decide what activities and commitments to delete. Can you get by on less shift at your part-time job? Can you get away with dropping an elective? Any commitments, whether they be personal, professional or academic should be dropped if they become toxic, harmful, unreasonably demanding, unnecessarily involved, not enjoyable, or unhelpful towards your goals. If certain tasks are getting out of hand, see how much work you are able to delegate to colleagues, co-workers and friends, even if the arrangement is only temporary. We all need breathing space.

Discipline thyself.

It’s easy to lose focus when there’s no focus to your schedule or work. Blocking off chunks of time and forcing yourself to commit that time to working on certain tasks may be the actual motivation to get things done. If work is ill-defined or poorly organized, it can be off-putting to try and follow a task through to completion, and sometimes even possible to start. Evaluating energy levels, eliminating distractions, and creating environments conducive to our own unique productivity needs are all great ways to enjoy work more, and dare I say make it easier?

If procrastination is a sickness then it’s one we all suffer from, but hopefully by gaining an understanding as to why we do it, we can gain more insight as how to prevent it but for now, hopefully we’ve found our prescription.

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Have you been procrastinating on commenting on this blog? Putting it off can be bad for you and your health. Share your strategies on how you got your life back on schedule by commenting below. Still too shy? I’ll keep your thoughts a secret if you send them to be at keepingbusyb@gmail.com.

When Those Lists Keep Adding Up

KBB_stack_of_filingAlmost everyone I know has a to-do list. Think about yours. It could be on a piece of paper, scrunched in a corner of your daily agenda, or neatly outlined on your Smartphone. Maybe it’s just in your head as you scramble to get out the door to do your errands.

No matter what form, we all have our ways of prioritizing all of the things we need to do in order to keep our businesses, homes or lives in order.

Now I want you to think about your list. If you’re like most people, your list is probably a mile long. You’re bound to forget one of those things, or worse: you might put it off.

Thought about that list? Great. Now ask yourself, what’s the one thing that’s been on here forever? What do I just keep forgetting? What to-do just seems to keep on slipping through the slats? You might have to dig a little deeper to think of that one thing but once you have it, grab onto it mentally and don’t let go.

Is this an exercise in procrastination? (No. I was going to write a post about that but I think I’ll just do it later.) It’s actually proof of something that I’ve only learned very recently.

To-do lists don’t work.

Now don’t immediately start composing that nasty email to me, because to-do lists have helped out a ton of people, myself included. But all too often we fall into the trap of using a to-do list as a brain dump. We write down every single little thing we’ve ever thought of doing ever, instead of just keeping it short, sweet and limited to a certain category of things.

People familiar with the practice of GTD (Getting Things Done) will remember how creator David Allen suggests organizing several to-do lists in order of context.

I have to admit that had been something that has helped me tremendously. My lists are shorter and I am much more selective about each of the items that go on each list.

This doesn’t mean you have to become a hardcore GTD convert in order to gain something from this practice. The next time you write down a to-do list for all of the errands you need to run on Saturday morning, limit the things you need to do to just that Saturday morning. If it’s not an errand, don’t add it to the list. If you do, you run the risk of losing your memory’s grip on that item and the task will never be completed. Not much of a to-do list, right?

It may seem like common sense, but you’d never include items to pick up at the grocery store on a list of things to do to clean your garage. So why would you do any of that to your to-do lists?

Try at least grouping your to-dos into like categories. You may even want to try separating those to-do lists by context, rooms in your house, or by home improvement projects. Whatever floats your boat!

Who knows? You might actually end up getting some of those nasty tasks crossed off.

KBwB-BFlower-50How many items do you have on your to-do list? I’d love to hear about yours as well. Drop me a line at keepingbusyb@gmail.com or comment below. Together let’s get them done! Looking for other projects to keep you busy? I’ve been sharing all of mine here.