When it’s 11:00 p.m. on a Tuesday night and you haven’t accomplished what you wanted for the day, its easy to look back through foggy, tired lenses and think, ” I just didn’t have the time. Now, I’m so stinking tired.” A close look at your day could reveal something you didn’t expect.
The Energy Suck
What comes after the lamenting over lack of time and being tired is inevitably the stress and anxiety from having not accomplished the greatness you fully intended to achieve this morning. Then comes the blame game.
There was the guy in the Land Rover that cut you off in traffic this morning. “Dang, that took a lot out of me. I hate that guy.”
There was the irate client that lost their mind over something that was so totally out of your control. “That nearly sent me off the cliff. Really zapped my energy. I hate that guy.”
Meetings ran long, equipment failed, tools were missing, assistant over-scheduled you, the world just sucks! “I could do so much more if 1) things just went my way and 2) I had more time. It all comes down to those two problems, right?
Admission: The above has been me in various forms as recently as yesterday.
Those things actually DO drain you, both mentally and physically. Thing is, though, they’re always there, every day, for all of us.
Problem 1: Isn’t it ridiculous to think things will ever go completely our way? I mean, we know that’s not going to happen. It hasn’t happened to a single human being or lower life form since the beginning of time.
Here’s what we should do in the face of that: Accept it, get over it, and move on. Problem solved.
As for Problem 2, that’s a little more tricky, so I decided to do an analysis of my day, yesterday. Do I have enough time to do what I need to do? In my case, “what I need to do” is write at least 1,000 words per day, which can take from 1 hour to 3 or so.
This is my yesterday, beginning with the night before, which has an impact on yesterday:
12:00 a.m. – To bed after watching the latest episodes of Turn (fantastic A&E series, if you haven’t seen it) and Game of Thrones.
7:00 a.m. – 7:30 a.m. – Wake up, get up.
7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. – Shower, dress, take the dog out, make the coffee, get out the door to work.
8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. – The job (half-hour for lunch) and back home
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. – Supper, clean-up and evening chaos commences
6:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. – Some chores
7:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. – Family time, bedtime for kids
9:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. – Down time and bed
In the above real-life scenario, I had approximately 2.5 hours wherein I could have accomplished some or all of my goals for the day. I had time at lunch, during homework time (typically doesn’t require much), and during down time. The problem with down time is that it comes late in the day and my brain is well and truly tired.
Morning Time is the Right Time
Traditionally, free time has come during the late evening. As a 20- and 30-something, I could really produce during the 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. time slot. Those days are gone, for me.
When I do succeed in writing in the late evening, my attention to detail is limited and the errors are many. On the other hand, after a big glass of water, a showering, a bite to eat and a cup (carafe) of coffee, my head is clear and bright in the AM. To make the morning possible, the late night must be sacrificed.
Getting in bed a couple of hours earlier and up at a very doable 5:00 a.m. yields two hours that are full of mental and physical energy, clarity, and quiet. Perfect for what I need to accomplish. I know it is easier said than done, but it is the only option.
I can write during those two hours. That leaves only a half hour or so during the rest of the day that I can use to hone what I wrote and prepare for the next day.
Two and a half hours per day, each day, provides 75 hours per month. That is almost two full 40-hour work weeks added to each month. The real bonus is that it isn’t simply “work.” Sure I’ll be working, but it will be work of my own choosing and toward goals I need to accomplish.
When I’m doing something I want to be doing, something getting me closer to my goal, I feel energized. I feel powerful, like I can’t be stopped. It is such a great feeling. We have to be ever mindful to keep the momentum going in the right direction, however, because momentum works in both directions. There is no stopping in the middle. We’re either moving forward or backward.
If you’re sitting on the fence between the good and the bad, then you’ve already chosen your side.
Take a close look at your own daily grind. See what you can extract from it and let us know in the comments.