“make mornings matter” in march!

“If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, that will probably be the worst thing you do all day.” – Mark Twain.

Source: Frog by David Wagner

Source: Frog by David Wagner

Happy Thursday, friends! How is your week going so far?

The always-amazing Crystal over at Money-Saving Mom is hosting a really neat Early to Rise Challenge during the month of March. I have been inspired by her posts, and floored by her {and other participants} wake-up times: 5:33. 6:01. 5:45. A.M.!!

Now to some of you, that is a piece of cake. That is simply routine for you. 5 a.m. and sunrises are a normal part of your day. {My mom is one of those people. Hi, Mom!}

But I have always been a night owl. Maybe it’s related to writing — I often feel more creative late at night, when the world is quiet and I am close to dreamland. {In fact, I titled my short story collection 3 a.m. because that’s when I was up writing many of the stories in the book!} I’ve read that we all have natural body rhythms as either night owls or early birds, and I am definitely in the night owl category. I often joke with my Gramps, who lives out in California, that he and I are on the same time schedule — we go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time; I’m just three hours ahead of him on the clock! 🙂

Still, I like to feel productive, and I’ve found my mornings often set the tone for the rest of my day. If I have a sluggish morning where I wake up, head straight to my computer, check my email first thing, and browse around on Facebook, it will soon be an hour later and I will feel totally crummy. Then I’ll be rushing to “get a start” on my day and very likely the whole entire day will seem like a giant game of catch-up.

If, instead, I wake up, drink two glasses of water, brew some tea and cook a healthy, hearty breakfast, and start the day with one chore I do not want to do or have been putting off — just do it and get it DONE so I don’t have to worry about it anymore — then the entire day seems sunnier, easier, lovelier. I feel on top of things. I feel productive. Even if the task I’ve been putting off takes me a total of three minutes, like yesterday morning, when I called the mechanic who I had been been playing phone tag with the entire day before. I called him first thing when I got up, was done with the task in three minutes, and felt a sense of motivation and accomplishment that carried me through the entire day!

To paraphrase Mark Twain’s quote from the beginning of this post, what “frogs” are you putting off? Think how great you will feel if you get them done first thing and then have the whole day to not worry about it!

Another thing that really gets my day off on a great, energetic note is to do a little bit of exercise first thing in the morning. One of my goals for 2013 is to stretch every day, and I feel so much better the rest of the day if I take a few minutes to stretch my legs and hips when I first get out of bed. I am also trying to motivate myself to get into the routine of doing my sit ups and push ups first thing in morning, before I hop in the shower and eat breakfast. I often feel too tired or busy to do them at night, but I really want to work on building up the strength of my core, and so doing my sit-ups and push-ups are important to me. For the rest of March — and beyond — that is a small goal I am focusing on!

How about you? How do you make your mornings matter? If you’re looking for inspiration, I love this post by Crystal: “15 Things You Can Do Each Morning to Make Your Day More Successful.” I think she gives great advice! And whether your morning starts at 5 a.m. or noon, this is a no-judgment zone! It’s all about what works best for you and your lifestyle. 🙂

saturday upsides: even chores have silver linings

Happy Saturday! I can’t believe how quickly this Thanksgiving weekend is flying by. We’re having a wonderful time visiting Mike’s family, and it’s been a nice mix of productive work time, relaxing lazy time, Christmas shopping time, family time, and of course eating yummy food time! I need to do a bit more grading before we head back to school on Monday … I tend to put grading at the bottom of my to-do list {maybe because I really dislike giving bad grades and sometimes I simply have to.} The great students more than make up for it, though. Which brings me to my topic for today’s Saturday Upside, linked up with Bonnie at Recipes Happen:

even chores have silver linings

We all have those chores we don’t like to do, those small tasks that we procrastinate on. For me it’s grading and cleaning the bathroom. Mike really dislikes doing laundry. Another friend of mine hates doing the dishes.

But the thing I’ve learned about procrastinating is that it just makes the dreaded chore bigger than it needs to be. It gives it power by letting it take up your brain space. The dread of what needs to be done later taints the present time, which is time spent doing other things you do enjoy. And then, when you finally do get around to completing whatever it was you were procrastinating on, don’t you often think, I guess that wasn’t so bad/didn’t take so long/wasn’t as difficult as I was expecting? It happens to me a lot. It would be so much better if I would just bite the bullet and complete the chore before the procrastination lethargy settles in!

Something that helps me is to try to find the silver lining even in life’s chores. Maybe that means putting on my favorite new CD or Pandora playlist and dancing while I clean the bathroom. Mike folds laundry while watching one of his favorite TV shows. Even washing the dishes could be time spent daydreaming about your dream vacation or mentally plotting out your Christmas list or listening to an intriguing podcast or audiobook. Hate to exercise? Call a friend and have a catch-up chat while you walk around the neighborhood. Or power-walk around the mall while you window-shop!

“Silver linings” can also be mini-rewards you give yourself. Like I said, I have lots of terrific students, and I often save the papers from my best students for the end of my grading stack, as a little reward for me at the end. {It always makes me so happy and proud to see my students trying their best and shining with their work!} Maybe you could break chores up with little treats: a good cup of coffee or tea, a chapter of the great book you’re reading, a square of dark chocolate, a game of fetch with your dog, a phone call to a friend. It also helps me to think about the end goal of whatever I’m doing: the students I hope I am helping become better writers, for example; or how important it is to keep the bathroom clean and wiped down to stay healthy, especially during the winter cold/flu season!

And sometimes it helps to get down to the basics: if I feel annoyed at having to clean my apartment, I’ll remind myself how lucky I am to have a place to call my own. On those days I don’t feel like getting up and going to work, I think instead about all the people who are trying so hard to find work, and how lucky I am to have a job to get up and go to!

What could be the silver linings in some of your least favorite chores or tasks?