Thursday, January 7, 2016

Getting My Groove Back

Back when I was teaching, and my kids were all still at home, I would wake up at 4:30, work out, shower, fix breakfast for the kids, and get us all to school. My routine was set, and I knew just how long everything would take me to get to work on time. My afternoons were jam-packed with phone calls, meetings, appointments, and chauffeuring kids, when needed. My job necessitated that I have routines in place so our schedules worked smoothly. 

Since retiring this second time, though, I've had a harder time finding my groove for a morning routine. Often I am awake by 3, back to bed, if I'm lucky, and then up with Chuck at 4:45. There are certain things I can count on; breakfast with Chuck, a little time on the couch together before he heads to work, and chatting on the phone during his 80 minute commute. It's the time I have to myself I've had difficulty managing. I couldn't quite put my finger on why, until this week. I finally figured out I HAD A PROBLEM WITH MY PHONE.

It used to be when I woke up, whether that was at 3 or 4:45, I generally grabbed my phone first thing, checked Facebook, and then the scrolling would begin. I would head downstairs to start my coffee, and grab my laptop, so I could see things a little easier. I would sit on the couch, mindlessly plowing through the many posts on Facebook. When Chuck woke up, I'd set things aside to spend time with him, and we would chat on the phone during his commute to work, and then I'd head back to the couch, assume the position, and get lost in the "time suck" of Facebook. 

You've probably heard the ROCKS IN THE JAR (time management) analogy shared by Steven Covey. If you put the big rocks (priorities) in first, then the progressively smaller ones, you can fill every nook and cranny with sand, but if you start with sand, the bigger pieces won't fit in. 

I'd been starting each day with the sand, so to speak, and neglecting my big rocks until later in the day. Once I realized how much more productive I could be by tackling my big rocks first, I started limiting my time online. What a difference it has made. 
On fire, I am. 

We all have our priorities. Yours are probably quite different from mine, but we all have tasks we would like to accomplish on any given day. Mine are becoming part of my routine, although they are still not done in any particular order. Each morning, I set an intention, one word which provides an overriding thought throughout the day; a touchstone to which I return often, checking in with myself to see how I'm doing. I've chosen words like: love, gratitude, service, self-control. I make time to read from the New Testament, and to pray. I make a list of tasks for the day which I need to get done. And I've been exercising. I do a quick seven-minute workout app on my phone that is a killer, but I know that planks, sit ups, and push ups are going to help me tone my muscles. And as much as I hate exercising indoors, I have decided to ride our exercise bike while I talk to Chuck on his commute to work, to help me pass the time. It's so dark and cold this time of year in the early morning hours, so this is my compromise to make sure I get in a workout.

I'm voraciously reading Debbie Ford's book, The Best Year of Your Life. The Kindle version was only $1.99 on Amazon, so the cheapskate in me was thrilled, and the intentional living part of me was ecstatic. As a fan of Debbie Ford, I am enjoying her positivity and good suggestions for setting goals and accomplishing them to make this the best year of my life. It's going to be hard to top 2015, but I'm going to try!

All of these wonderful resources seem to be falling in my lap from all sorts of places. Once I set my word for this year, INTENTIONAL, I have been drawn to inspiring quotes and scriptures, and great books. I've been printing off goal-setting sheets, and week-at-a-glance printables like crazy. Synchronicity is at play in my life once again. I love that right now I seem to be a magnet for intentional living inspiration. 

For me, routine is less about the ORDER in which things are done, and simply that the things are DONE. Early. Right away. After waking up. Before the day gets away from me.

In case you're wondering, I haven't totally given up Facebook, but I've been waiting until most of my tasks are done, or until about eight in the morning to take a peek. I've been spending about 20 minutes checking in with friends, sending birthday and get well greetings, and then I just pop in periodically throughout the day. I'm spending so much more time being productive, and reward myself with quick breaks on the internet in between my tasks. 

When Chuck checked in with me mid-morning on Tuesday, I told him I was enjoying a break on Facebook with my second cuppa, "my guilty pleasures."

"Nothing wrong with a guilty pleasure," he said.

With my husband's stamp of approval, maybe it's not as guilty a pleasure as I thought. Social media will still be a part of my morning routine, but it will be just be a filler like sand, and not a priority. Looks like I'm on my way to getting my groove back.

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